Greece - Formalities
The Greek courtesy flag must be flown and also it should be in good condition, as torn or frayed flags are regarded as a sign of disrespect.
As Greece is a member of the European Union, formalities for EU vessels and nationals should be simple, although this does not always appear to be the case.
Port police will want to see the yacht registration certificate, the Greek language certificate of third party insurance (see documents below), and they will ask for a crew list with passport numbers and birth dates. Very rarely, other certificates (competence or radio) may be asked for (again see documents below). If you have a DEKPA from a previous visit, they will record your entry into the country.
Update: November 2013: Yet Another New Tax
The "Special Tax" suggested in 2010 for larger boats (motor over 10m, or sail over 15m) has now been abandoned in favour of a tax payable by all boats over 7m entering Greek waters, irrespective of how short a time they actually spend there.
The tax is valid for a year and rises from 200 euros for 7 boats to 400 euros for those of 12m. Above that the charge is 100 euros/metre. There is a 30% reduction for boats permanently based in the country. It is due to be implemented from 1st January 2014. The current translation available is unclear is some areas, but see here for a report. Ensure you obtain an official receipt.
For EU boats over 10m, a Traffic Document (DEKPA) must be purchased from the Port Police. The DEKPA is an official log of entry and exit from ports and is valid for 60 entries (enough for a few years cruising). It's a small booklet with space for stamps. It must be stamped at least every 30 days. You have permission to keep the yacht (but not necessarily yourselves) in the country indefinitely. EU boats under 10m will be asked to pay harbour fees, but do not need a DEKPA.
Non-EU boats with a non-EU skipper
Formalities for non-EU vessels can be just as complicated as before and so the entire procedure is described below, even if in practice this may not be strictly adhered to by local officials.
On arrival in Greece, clear with Immigration, Health and Customs (in that order).
At Customs non-EU boats are issued with a transit document (transit log) instead of a DEKPA, valid for six months, but extendable up to 18 months. This is a permit to cruise and there is no charge. It is completed in Greek and English with details of the yacht, crew, fuel and other provisions. The log must be produced when requested and must also record any crew changes.It must be surrendered to Customs on leaving Greek waters.
All boats must then visit the Port Authority (Police).
After each three months in the country (90 days), non-EU boats become liable to pay 'cruising tax' charged by length and beam. Not all ports charge this, but missing this payment risks a fine. Storage ashore does not postpone cruising tax liability.
Non-EU Boats with an EU skipper
Such boats are issued with a transit log for one month only after which time they must leave Greece or pay VAT.
Fees charged and regulations enforced are inconsistent throughout Greece, often common in countries that are so wide spread with a multitude of islands and regions. Where reported, noonsite has made a note under ports that are reported to be expensive or difficult.
According to a ministerial directive which came into effect in September 2007, every boat over 7metres that enters Greece and is not permanently moored in the country, is obliged to pay a fee of 15€ each time they enter the country to the Port Police. The relative directive is valid all over Greece, however noonsite has only heard of Gouvia, Corfu charging this "cruising permit" fee in 2013. It is also doubtful as to whether this fee is still in force as many of the recreational boat charges levied by Greece have been revoked over the last few years in an effort to increase tourism.
The Port Authorities may also want a passenger and crew list on departure from each port.
If wishing to spend a night away from the boat (on land), then the Port Police should be informed.
Note that the Greek Coast Guard does not monitor or call on VHF Ch 16. If you require assistance you must call them on Ch 12. Monitor Ch 12 on entering a port in case the port police wish to call you.
Always check in and out at a Greek port if there is a Coast Guard/Port Police office (even if the dock guys say it is not necessary).
Be patient and smile!
Last updated November 2013.
Greece is a member of the Schengen Agreement Area. See Noonsite' Schengen page for more details on the immigration rules.
Extensions of visas for non-EU nationals may be obtained from the nearest police station or Aliens Department, Leoforos Alexandros 173, Athens. Only one such extention is allowed.
Entry may be refused if there are Turkish Cyprus stamps in the passport.
Individual passports are not stamped on entry into Greece by yacht, nor is this required for departure with the same yacht. However, if leaving by another means, these stamps are required by Immigration at the point of exit.
It may be advisable also for non-EU passport holders to insist on having a passport stamped on entry (even if planning to leave the country by yacht) as some officials will want to see a stamp.
If you overstay your visa, you will be fined (usually double the cost of an extension). Officials are vigilant over applying this, unless you have been immobilized is hospital, for example.
Last updated November 2013.
Firearms must be declared and will be sealed in a safe area on board.
Foreign yachts can buy fuel at duty-free prices, which must be arranged through customs. Stations that sell fuel for foreign yachts are marked by blue and yellow diagonal stripes on the quay.
EU regulations apply concerning temporary importation. See EU VAT page for more information.
For non-EU boats the Transit Log is suposed to have an inventory attached - quote from the Greek regulation - "Into the Transit Log must be entered, large portable items of a certain value such as electrical appliances, scuba diving gear etc. so that these can be re-exported once more, otherwise these must be cleared. Customs privileges only apply to equipment that is permanently installed on the craft and is necessary for the navigation and safety of the craft, as well as all crew and passengers personal belongings."
If VAT has been paid on a non-EU boat, then a permanent Transit Log will be issued.
Products of animal origin, not originating from an EU member state, Andorra, Liechtenstein, Norway, San Marino or Switzerland, are not permitted to be imported into an EU Member state.
It is strictly forbidden to remove antiquities and art objects from Greece without a special permit.
Last updated November 2013.
No special medications or immunizations are necessary for travel to Greece, but do not drink tap water unless it has been boiled, filtered, or chemically disinfected.
Greece has a national health care system which is inexpensive and readily available. There are three kinds of medical facilities: The large cities have the largest and best equipped hospitals, while smaller city hospitals are adequate for emergency situations. Smaller towns and villages have medical centres adequate for advice and first aid in case of emergencies. If you do not have insurance, you can get examined at any hospital for about $2, and get first aid attention.
Pharmacies in Greece are also able to provide first aid for simple matters, and can give competent advice. They are identified by the "Green Cross" emblem and are open during normal business hours (8:00 AM to 1:00 PM and 5:00 PM to 8:30 PM). Most staff speak English, and the medicines are normal European quality.
Useful emergency telephone numbers:-
24hr pharmacies 107
Emergency doctor (2pm to 7am) 105/107
Greek Authorities are rigorously applying entry regulations due to Avian Flu. Incoming yachts should call Port Authority on VHC Ch12 advising ETA. Fly the "Q" flag and do not go ashore until Port Authorities have been aboard.
Infestation by rats can be a problem in some harbours and appropriate precautions should be taken on the mooring and anchoring warps.
Yachts must carry their original registration document and ship's radio licence. One member of the crew must have a radio operator’s certificate of competence.
The original insurance certificate must be carried and a Greek translation showing third party insurance with the amounts in figures. The minimum amounts are 293,470 euro liability for death or injury by sinking, collision or other cause for crew and third parties, 146,753 euro for damage, 88,041 euro for pollution. It should be noted that if a boat is owned by a company or corporation, it will cause fewer difficulties with the authorities if the name of the company is the same as that of the boat (or nearly so).
The skipper must have an International Certificate of Competence (ICC). Cruisers report in 2013 that Greek authorities (especially in the south) were asking for the ICC.
EU Boats - VAT
For EU boats, proof of VAT status is also required. See EU VAT for the rules on Temporary Importation (TI) for non-EU boats.
EU Boats - DEKPA
All EU boats over 10m must purchase a Traffic Document (DEKPA). The DEKPA is an official log of entry and exit from ports and is valid for 60 entries (enough for a few years cruising) after which another must be purchased. This may be stamped on entering and leaving a port at which point the harbour dues may be collected. Even when not required at every port, it should be stamped at least once every 30 days.
It is not uncommon for no DEKPA forms to be available. In this case, get your crew list stamped and the lack of DEKPA forms noted upon it.
Non-EU Registered Boats - Transit Log
A Transit Document (Log) is issued at the first port of clearance and is valid for six months, but extendable up to 18 months. This is a permit to cruise and there is no charge. It is completed in Greek and English with details of the yacht, crew, fuel and other provisions. The log must be produced when requested and must also record any crew changes.The yacht may remain in Greece for as long as the log is valid. It must be surrendered to Customs on leaving Greek waters.
Crew and passengers on board a yacht are considered by the authorities to be in transit, and the transit log only authorises day visits inland, the nights being presumed to be spent on board. The Port Police and Immigration should be notified if travelling away from the yacht overnight or if an individual leaves Greece by other means such as by air. These changes have to be noted in the transit log and entry and exit stamps put into the passport.
Note: Channel Island yachts are classed as non-EU. See report here for more details.
See Fees for the charges for the various documents.
NOTE: Not all all officals in all Greek ports (expecially the smaller, more remote ones) are fully aware of the correct documents required, but failure to have the proper documents can involve heavy fines at a later stage.
Last updated September 2013.
Traffic Document (DEKPA): Applicable to all EU boats over 10 metres. Valid for 60 ports of call: 30 Euros to the tax office but 15 Euros to the Port Police.
Transit Log: Issued for 6 months and can be extended for up to 18 months: 80 Euros.
Cruising Tax Charge (replacing the Cruising Permit): 15 euro per metre, charged for each period of 3 months spent in Greek waters (about €200 for a 12m yacht). Payable at the end of each 90 day period and not payable if departing before 90 days. Missing this payment risks a fine. If your yacht is on the hard, this tax is still payable, so be sure to make arrangements for payment during your absence.
Update: November 2013: Yet Another Proposed Tax
The "Special Tax" suggested in 2010 for larger boats (motor over 10m, or sail over 15m) has now been abandoned in favour of a tax payable by all boats over 7m entering Greek waters irrespective of how short a time they actually spend there.
The tax is valid for a year and rises from 200 euros for 7 boats to 400 euros for those of 12m. Above that the charge is 100 euros/metre. There is a 30% reduction for boats permanently based in the country. It is due to be implemented from 1st January 2014. The current translation available is unclear is some areas, but see here for a report.
Other charges are sometimes applied:-
All public harbours now charge a mooring or anchoring fee based on the tonnage and length of the boat which in general amounts to 6 Euros for 11m. Boats from EU countries pay lower fees than those from non-EU countries, while Greek flagged boats pay even less.
There is a basic fee charged at every port for completing the paperwork.
A lower fee is charged for anchoring. In most ports these fees are charged even if stopping for provisions only, or even to buy fuel.
Re-launching fee of 7.34 Euro.
A fee is charged by customs for each fuel delivery.
Interpretation of these rules is very likely to vary from port to port, and even from official to official, within the various authorities involved. See Diederik Willemsen website for another opinion.
For the inexperienced Greek Islands sailor it can be a little confusing sometimes as (usually depending on the size of the island) the collection of port fees and/or mooring fees seems to be a little bit of a hit and miss affair.
Last updated November 2013.
Restrictions on where you can anchor in Greece relate to a “default” EU Law which forbids anchoring or manoeuvring under engine within 500m (can be 1,000m) of the "shore"/"beach"/"swimming area" unless there is a swimming area marked out off the beach. See report for more details.
Seaworthiness (Mechanical Failure/Grounding)
If any vessel, Greek or otherwise, reports any sort of a problem to the port authorities, which could possibly affect there seaworthiness, (grounding or mechanical failure etc.), the port police will then require that they have a surveyor's report to say the vessel is seaworthy before it is allowed to leave the harbour. This will be rigidly enforced, especially if the vessel has required assistance or is unable to moor correctly in the harbour, ie alongside, stern to etc. Unless there is a danger ot life, it is best not to involve the port police unless absolutely necessary (they will appreciate this also). In some minor cases, the authorities may accept a report from the breakdown service used (if it is reputable), but more commonly they require a report from a ministry approved surveyor. This can be expensive, usually €350 or more plus expenses for a small leisure yacht.
Fishing and Diving
Fishing is forbidden with scuba gear and is only permitted with a snorkel in undeveloped areas. If you happen to be scuba diving and any form of fishing gear is found on your boat, it is most likely you will be arrested and the boat impounded.
Scuba diving is restricted in Greece. Permission should be sought locally before diving.
Because the registered owner of the boat is expected to be on board, if a friend is allowed to use the boat in the owner's absence, a proper document should be prepared, in Greek, stating this. Non-EU boats may only be sailed by the owner(s).
Chartering by foreign yachts from Greek ports is no longer illegal. This restriction was removed in the summer of 2002 as a consequence of the ending of maritime cabotage and Greek waters being opened to foreign ferries in accordance with European Union directives. However, for a boat to charter in Greece it must be inspected and certificated to Greek law (as per other EU members) which is a complicated and bureaucratic process. It is illegal to charter a non-Greek flagged boat in Greece if it does not have the relevant certification.
Note February 2012: New Law proposed for 2012 season - Any private vessels found chartering (that are not commercially registered as charter vessels), advertising illegal chartering or carrying passengers for payment, whose clients have joined the boats in Greece, will face large fines and possible imprisonment.
This law is an attempt to fight illegal chartering in Greece, however if the law comes into effect, it may cause problems for long term cruisers who occasionally invite family and friends on board and ask for a share of expenses.
Drinking and Driving
It is forbidden to handle a boat under the influence of alcohol. The Greek Port Police may alcohol-test skippers on small boats and yachts.
Last updated March 2013.
Cats and dogs require health and rabies inoculation certificates issued in the country of origin, not more than 12 months previously for dogs, six months for cats, and not less than six days before arrival. Birds also need a health certificate.
Greece accepts pets covered by the PETS Scheme (Pet Travel Scheme) with current Pet Passport.