Greece - Formalities
Update January 2016: Due to the current situation with regard to the number of migrants and refugees attempting to enter Europe, a number of Schengen Area countries have re-introduced border controls. Therefore, it is advisable that cruisers now check with the official authorities when entering or leaving a country.
While at sea it is also advisable that any sightings of refugee/migrant boats be immediately reported to the appropriate Coast Guard via VHF. This is especially important if it is necessary to rescue any whose life is in danger.
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 (Hellenic Coast Guard)
The Hellenic Coast Guard, colloquially known as Port Police or PP, should only be visited when:
(1) entering the country from outside the Schengen Area, or
(2) once a year after that to have your DEKPA or transit log (Greek cruising papers) checked for the new Circulation Tax (TPP) payments (see further details below).
On entering the country, the PP will want to see the yacht registration certificate, the Greek language certificate of third party insurance (see Documents below with revised limits), 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.
With the introduction of Law 4256 which came into effect on 14 April 2014, PP permission is no longer needed;
(a) when arriving in harbour
(b) to haul out
(c) to re-launch
(d) to leave harbour
(e) to change crew lists.
Also, boats arriving from outside the Schengen Area no longer have to use a port of entry, but in practice still need to enter at a PP manned port as the appropriate entry forms must be completed.
Authorities in the Eastern Aegean do recommend checking into Greece through an agency. By law, this is optional, but harbour fees must be paid via an agency and therefore in order to ensure a straightforward clearance, it may be simpler to use an agency.
New Circulation Tax (TPP)
This is the controversial tax which was due to come into force in January 2014, but there is still no indication if or when TPP collection will start.
It is intended that TPP will be payable by all boats over 7m afloat in Greek waters, irrespective of how short a time they actually spend there. The Cruising Association are in direct contact with the Ministry of Maritime Affairs and the Aegean who are responsible for implementing this tax. See a full description at http://cruising.org.uk/news/greektax#TPP
Formalities for EU Boats
For EU boats over 10m, a DEKPA must be purchased from the PP (DEKPA are the Greek initials for a "Cruising Bulletin" or "Private Pleasure Boat Maritime Traffic Document").
The DEKPA is an official log of entry and exit from ports and remains permanently valid for that boat. While the boat stays in Greece, the DEKPA only has to be presented to PP once a year. You have permission to keep the yacht (but not necessarily yourselves) in the country indefinitely.
EU boats under 10m do not need a DEKPA.
Formalities for 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 Port Police, Immigration, Customs and then back to Port Police (in that order).
Customs will issue non-EU boats with a transit document (Transit Log) instead of a DEKPA, valid for six months. Only one transit log can be issued every 12 months.
The Tranist Log is a permit to cruise in Greece for 6 months. It costs 30 Euros for private owners. 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.
Whereas previously the Transit Log was extendable for up to 18 months, in January 2015 a retrospective law was introduced that from the 1st July 2014 the transit log is no longer extendable up to 18 months unless the boat is in bond (i.e. vacated and in-active in a marina or out of the water).
See Documents for full details on the rules of the transit log.
Denying non-EU boats up to 18 months in Greece is totally against EU rules, but, as ever, Greece has gone its own way and with the recent change of Government there, it is not expected that the situation will change any time soon. Boats have already been fined for breaching this law (see Fees for details of fines).
See noonsite news article which has full details about this important change.
Note: The time permitted by Customs is for the boat, not for the crew (where visa rules apply). It is likely the boat can stay longer in Greece than the crew are permitted under Immigration laws.
Formalities for 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. Tip: If you have a European passport, but you live more than 6 months in a non EU country, then is important to have the right documents to prove this, in order to obtain a transit log for 6 months instead of 1 month.
- As of 1 August 2014 Harbour Dues are no longer payable to the PP, but instead are collected by the local authority (Limeniko Tameo) responsible for managing the quay (often payable via an agency). In some smaller ports, the PP have been designated managers for the quay. See Fees for more details.
- 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.
- The PP have been told of all new procedures and regulations, however you may find that in some ports the PP are still ignoring instructions and clinging to old procedures (visits every 30 days).
- 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. However, be cautious about calling for assistance via VHF (use a mobile instead, if possible) as it is very likely you will be caught up in the Greek legal system.
- In the case of a distress call or a boat being towed into a harbour, the boat may be detained until it has been declared seaworthy. This could involve an expensive visit from a authorised surveyor.
- Also, the port police must be informed of all injuries suffered on board any vessel in Greek waters. The port police have a legal obligation to pass on all details to the public prosecutor who will decide whether the captain has been negligent. Legal processes in Greece can take years!
- A useful report on Greek regulations can be found at http://cruising.org.uk/news/greektax#EntryProcs
- Be patient and smile!
Last updated May 2015.
Greece is a member of the Schengen Agreement Area. See Noonsite' Schengen page for more details on the immigration rules.
It may be possible to obtain a short-term residence visa (90 days) for non-EU nationals from the nearest police station if you can show a compelling reason you need to stay and have sufficient funds. This allows a total stay of 6 months. This is extension is applicable to Greece only, not elsewhere in the EU. Staying for tourist purposes is not permitted.
Entry may be refused if there are Turkish Cyprus stamps in the passport.
Individual passports are not usually stamped on entry into Greece by yacht, nor is this done for departure with the same yacht.
However, non-EU nationals should insist that their passports are stamped on both entry and exit.
If any crew member leaves the country other than by yacht, then passport stamps are required by Immigration at the point of exit.
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.
For immigration control, boats should carry an up to date crew list with passport or ID numbers, to be shown on request. There is no need to have this authenticated.
Last updated January 2016.
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 should apply concerning temporary importation. However, this is not currently the situation in Greece. See EU VAT page for more information.
For non-EU boats the Transit Log is supposed 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 should 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.
Codeine is an illegal substance in Greece. A prescription issued in another country may not allow its importation.
It is strictly forbidden to remove antiquities and art objects from Greece without a special permit.
Spear fishing equipment is not permitted on board if you also have scuba gear.
Last updated February 2015.
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 (revised April 2014) are 500,000 euro liability for death or injury by sinking, collision or other cause for crew and third parties; 150,000 euro for damage and 150,000 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 have reported 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 remains permanently valid for that boat. While the boat stays in Greece, the DEKPA only has to be presented to PP once a year.
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. This is no longer extendable for up to 18 months unless the boat is put in bond (either bonded in a marina or out of the water in a boatyard, vacated and in-active).
For example, cruise in Greece May to October. In October, lay the boat up for the winter in either a marina, or a boatyard, and hand the Transit Log to the Customs officer as soon as the boat is vacated. This effectively will "stop the clock". You can then return to continue cruising in Greece 6 months later. In May when you return make an application for extending the transit log for another 6 months and pay the transit log fee once again.
It also pays to tell the port police if you haul out, and when you re-enter (as proof that the boats was out of commission and not being used).
See Fees for details of Transit Log fees and fines for overstaying.
Note that officially, 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. 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 May 2015.
20€ to Customs for a Traffic Document (DEKPA) each time the vessel enters the country. Applicable to all EU boats over 10 metres. Valid for one year.
30€ to Customs for the Transit Log if the owner is an individual, and 45€ if the owner is a company. The Transit Log is issued for 6 months and is non-extendable.
15€/metre every 3 months, paid to the Port Police, starting from the date you enter the country.
Fines for overstaying the Transit Log:
88 Euros for out of the deadline exportation, plus 14 Euros for each day you stay in Greek waters after the 6 month deadline.
Note that the Transit Log can be put on hold at any time by taking your boat out of the water (putting it in "bond").
15€ to the Port Police - paid once each time the vessel enters the country (not all ports will make this charge although it is law).
Circulation Tax (TPP) - supposedly from 1st January 2014
See the Cruising Assocation website - http://cruising.org.uk/news/greektax - for the latest confirmed fees and associated information. As of May 2015 this new tax was still not being charged.
Harbour fees are not paid to the Port Police anymore, but to agencies/special private offices (Limeniko Tameo) responsible for managing the quay. Fees depend on the length of the vessel and the length of stay, but continue to be quite low. Advance payments for a month or more will earn discounts.
Marina fees, which broadly seem to include any quays or pontoons privately managed, will be collected as before, by the marina operator.
See this report for full details and fee schedule.
Other Fees sometimes charged:
Re-launching fee of 7.34 Euro.
A fee is charged by customs for each fuel delivery.
Editor's Note: Interpretation of these rules is very likely to vary from port to port, and even from official to official, within the various authorities involved. 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 May 2015.
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.
There are a number of marine parks around the Greek Islands and mainland which have restrictions for yachts wanting to visit. In particular the Zakynthos Marine Park (see Zante for more information).
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 €400 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.
Licenses are no longer required if fishing from a boat.
With the introduction of Law 4256 which came into effect on 14 April 2014, chartering regulations in Greece have been made much more favourable for foreign yachts. See details here.
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).
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 February 2015.
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.