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By No owner — last modified May 01, 2013 03:03 PM

 Belgium - Formalities

Clearance

As a member of the European Union, EU regulations apply.

As Belgium is a signatory of the Schengen Agreement, boats having on board nationals of EU countries which are not signatories of the Schengen Agreement, (such as the UK), must clear immigration at the point of entry into Belgium.

All visiting yachts must report to Maritime Police Control at a Port of Entry, and submit a completed form. This form can either be obtained in advance or from the Harbour Master on arrival.

A example of this form can be downloaded here.

Spot checks are often made by Immigration or Customs and boats found not to be complying with the regulations can be fined 75 euros.

See the Customs section below regarding marked (red) diesel.

Last updated November 2016.

Immigration

Visitors must have a passport valid at least three months beyond their proposed departure date.

Visas are not required for EU citizens for stays up to 3 months.

Belgium is a member of the Schengen Agreement Area. See Noonsite' Schengen page for more details on the immigration rules and a link to the Schengen Visa application form..

Last updated November 2016.

Customs

The importation of hunting and sporting firearms is possible but prior authorisation and licences must be obtained prior to arrival. They must be declared to Customs on arrival.

Foreign yachts remaining more than two months in Belgium must obtain a registration plate, as all Belgian yachts have, and pay navigation dues. Further details can be obtained from the Bureau de Perception des Droits de Navigation. The registration plate allows a vessel to stop on navigable waterways or to use their tributaries.

EU regulations apply concerning temporary importation. See EU VAT page for more information.

Notes on Red (marked) Diesel:-

As will be seen from the information below, the situation regarding red diesel is in turmoil. The situation may become clearer after September 18th.

July 28th 2017: The Belgian Ambassador to the UK has said that Belgium will not fine UK boats found to be carrying red diesel, from now until the issue has been discussed by the EU Committee on Excise Duty on September 18.

The Cruising Association had received reports that UK yachts visiting Belgium were:

  • tested for red diesel in tanks and fined €500 if any traces were found, even if receipts were provided
  • inspected for paperwork, including Schengen crew lists.

As a result, the CA wrote to the Belgian Ambassador in London and Belgian Customs in Brussels to ask for an explanation for their change of conduct. Our contact in Nieuwpoort could give RATS no explanation of the sudden Customs action but now confirm that advice, agreed with them three years ago, will now be honoured.

It is recommented that any boats planning to visit Belgian ports carry receipts for all diesel purchased in the past two years, which should have tax paid on 100% of fuel. They should also carry a Schengen crew list, and if possible, a print-out of the full text of the email from the Belgian Ambassador. See this Noonsite News report.

July 6th 2017:There is no longer any concession which permits British leisure craft to have red diesel in their fuel tanks when visiting Belgian waters. This means that having any trace of marked “red” diesel in a private pleasure craft is unlawful regardless of the country in which the diesel was purchased and is an infringement of Belgian law.

The RYA has been notified that a group of three boats were each fined €500 in July 2017 in Nieuwpoort and in Oostende two yachts were fined €750 and one yacht was fined €500 also in July 2017.

It is strongly advised that foreign yachts which have any red diesel, and only in their main tank, to have receipts (no more than a year old) showing that the tax on it has been paid.

Last updated July 2017.

Documents

Yachts must carry their original registration document, insurance policy and ship's radio licence. One member of the crew must have a radio operator’s certificate of competence. For EU boats, proof of VAT status is also required. A copy of International ColRegs must also be carried and the current tide tables for the area.

On inland waterways, if a boat is over 15m or capable of more than 11 knots, then the skipper must have an International Certificate of Competence (ICC) endorsed for inland waterways.

Restrictions

Red Diesel: If carrying any red diesel, ensure you have receipts (no more than a year old) showing that the tax on it has been paid.

The yacht must be equipped with adequate safety equipment including:- coloured rockets, safety harnesses, compass, lifejackets, fire extinguishers, first aid kit, navigation lights, bilge pump, anchor, tools for the engine.

The name and home port must be clearly marked on the stern.

Navigation: When motorsailing, a black cone with its apex down must be hoisted in the rigging. Port entry signals must be obeyed, due to the very heavy shipping traffic in and out of ports.

Inland waterways: Navigation is freely allowed on the Belgian waterways, although there are regulations one should be aware of. There are maximum speed limits on many of the canals and rivers. Vessels must not sail within 60 ft (20 m) of the banks of the River Meuse and the Ghent-Terneuzen canal, and within 25 ft (8 m) on the Lys and the Brussels - Charleroi canal. Full details of the regulations can be obtained in the booklet "Dispositions reglementant la police et la navigation", available from the offices at the locks. Information is also obtainable from the Ministère des Travaux Publics.

Foreign yachts arriving in Belgium by one of the canals must report to the first navigation tax office, to complete an entry declaration. On departure an exit declaration must also be signed at a navigation tax office. These offices are situated at the locks.

Pets

PETS (Pets Travel Scheme) is operated in Belgium requiring pets to have pet passport, current Health Certificate and current Rabies Vaccination Certificate, be microchipped and blood tests to have been taken by recognised Veterinarian prior to import.

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