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By No owner — last modified Sep 25, 2017 03:54 PM

 Spain - 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.

European Union regulations apply.

Boats from other EU countries need only to clear in if arriving from outside the EU. In practice, however, the authorities expect to be informed of one's arrival even if coming from a neighbouring EU country. As a result of the implementation of the Schengen Agreement, boats having on board nationals of EU countries which are not signatories of the Schengen Agreement must clear Immigration at the port of entry into Spain.

In the case of non-EU boats, the captain should proceed ashore and clear Customs (Aduana) and Immigration at a port of entry. Normally officials then come to inspect the boat. In subsequent ports where Guardia Civil and/or Customs officials are stationed, the clearance procedure may be repeated, although this varies from place to place. Sometimes the local yacht club or marina inform the authorities about the arrival of foreign yachts and many marinas have their own Customs office.

After having cleared into Spain, the procedure at subsequent ports seems to depend on the attitude of local officials. However, one should be prepared to show all relevant documents whenever asked. One may be asked for registration papers, crew lists, certificate of competence and proof of marine insurance. Once cleared, yachts are free to stop in ports and anchorages where there are no officials.

Non-EU boats should clear with Immigration and Customs on departure from Spain. Customs will record the date of departure on the Customs permit if one has one. This permit can be used again if re-entering Spain within the period of its validity. Each arrival and departure must be noted by Customs on the permit.

At least one member of the crew should have a VHF radio operators certificate.

Watch out for Light Dues, charged at many ports for a minimum of 30 days, which can make short stays very expensive.

NOTE that the Spanish maritime ensign, which should be flown as a courtesy flag, differs from the Spanish national flag in that it does not have the crown in the centre.

Last updated February 2016.


Spain is a member of the Schengen Agreement Area. See Noonsite' Schengen page for more details on the immigration rules.

Often the Immigration official does not stamp passports of people entering on yachts, but if it is your first entry into the Schengen Area (or you are leaving the Schengen Area from Spain) or are planning to leave Spain by another means of transport, a passport stamp will be needed.

Last checked February 2016.


Firearms must be declared. Rifles and shotguns for hunting purposes are permitted if a Weapons License is obtained from the Spanish authorities prior to arrival. Obtaining such a license is generally a lengthy one.

Yachts in transit can import spares and equipment duty-free but the procedure is not simple. The owner must lodge a cash deposit with the local Customs office equal to the value of the imported goods. This is returned when the goods have been placed on the boat under Customs supervision. In the absence of a Customs officer, the document must be signed by the police before the deposit is returned. In some places it may be necessary to employ the services of a shipping agent.

For non-EU yachts, EU regulations apply concerning temporary importation. See the Noonsite European Union page for more information.

Last updated February 2016.


Tap water: Over recent years the water system in Spain has undergone great improvements and tap water in built-up areas is relatively safe. Unfamiliar water can still cause minor stomach upsets and you may wish to purchase agua mineral, bottled water. Agua con gas is fizzy water and agua sin gas is still water. In small villages, the water may be well water and not mains so if in doubt, ask.

Dentists: Any dentistry carried out will normally have to be paid for as they are all private. The yellow pages of the telephone directory carries a good list of dentists (dentistas). You will often find a dentist in the large supermarkets.

Drugs: Prescription and non-prescription drugs are available from chemists (farmacias), distinguished by large green crosses.


Yachts must carry their original registration document, insurance policy (and a translation into Spanish) 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.

Although a Certificate of Competence (ICC) is not required, many Spanish Harbour Masters believe it is, so it is advisable to have one. For information on the ICC see the Noonsite European Union page.


Overtime is not normally charged, as all formalities are completed during normal working hours and yachts are not expected to clear at other times.

Harbour fees are charged in most ports if there are any facilities provided for yachts.

A special tax (G5 tax) is payable in some provinces around Spain. See this noonsite report on Spanish Taxes applied to Foreign Registered boats for more details.

Tasa de ayuda a la navegacion (Navigational assistance rates or the "lighthouse tax")

Light dues, payable throughout Spain (and the Canary Islands), were revised for 2015. This tax is now charged as a daily rate to transient foreign yachts. See this noonsite report for full details.

Tasa de Embarcaciones deportivas y de recreo (Recreational vessel rates)

This is charged by the day as well. See the above report for full details.

In Galicia, a "Pasaporte" can be purchased for €5. This is valid for two years and gives discounts of 15% on berthing fees in a number of marinas in the area.

Last updated September 2015.


Anchoring Restrictions

Restrictions on where you can anchor in Spain 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.

Marine Reserves/National Parks

If wishing to anchor, or enjoy many of the bays in the Balearics, cruisers should learn about Project Posidonia which has developed "reserves" to protect the seagrass and consequently put in place restrictions for visiting yachts, including the requirement to book a mooring buoy in advance. Read more here.

The island of Cabrera, a tiny piece of land off Majorca’s southern coast, has been declared a national park and access is restricted. For more information on how to apply for a permit see Cabrera Port Information.

Atlantic Islands (Galicia)
The Atlantic Islands National Park (El Parque Nacional Marítimo Terrestre de las Islas Atlánticas de Galicia) falls into the same catagory as Cabrera and comprises the islands of Cortegada, Sálvora, Ons and Cíes off the coast of Galicia (NW Spain).

The anchoring permit for the Islas (Cies, Salvora and Ons) can be obtained online well in advance. You must print it out and have it on board for inspection on request. You will receive it via return email. It is valid for up to two years.

See Instructions on how to get a permit

Some local marinas, such as the Real Club Nautico de Portosin, offer assistance with applying for this permit.

Within 2 weeks of your arrival in the Islands, you must apply for daily permits for each day you plan to spend there. Again, this can be done online at the website link above. The Islands have free Wi-Fi, so you can actually apply as you arrive. However, keep in mind that the number of visiting yachts is restricted and you may not get your chosen dates.

It is possible to anchor here without an advance permit, in case of emergency or bad weather.

(Last updated September 2017)

Charter Yachts

Foreign yachts can charter in Spain under certain conditions. Charter vessels must not exceed 72 ft (22 m) LOA nor carry more than 12 passengers. They must comply with the international regulations for the safety of life at sea and have an insurance to cover both crew and passengers. A special permit must be obtained from the local maritime authorities (Comandancia de Marina) and also a licence from customs. Yachts will be granted a five month period (extendable for two further periods of five months) in which to charter. If such vessels are engaged in any kind of fishing, proper licences must be obtained both for the passengers and crew.

An update in Spanish law regarding VAT (October 2013) means that all yachts flying an EU flag and exclusively engaging in charter activity are now exempt from taxation.

Last updated January 2015.


The Pets Travel Scheme (PETS) is valid in Spain and allows dogs and cats to enter and leave Spain with the necessary micro chip (to ISO standards), current Rabies Vacination Certicate (valid from 30 days prior to travel and up to 12 months after arrival), and current Health Certificate and Pet Psassport.

Dogs must wait at least 6 months after blood test.

The following ports are included in the PETS scheme as follows :- By ferry - Calais to Dover, Coen,Cherbourg, Le Havre and St Malo to Portsmouth By rail - Eurotunnel shuttle service but not Eurostar. By air - From certain Europe airports to Heathrow London (check with Airline or Tour Operator for details).

Check Regulations for pets coming into Spain from United States and Canada.

Potentially Dangerous Dogs - some breeds are subject to strict control and regulations so you need to check your dog is not in that category. Dogs, cats or ferrets under 3 months old are now allowed to enter Spain. Up to five animals are allowed to enter Spain as non-commercial import per traveller. Five or more animals, or animals travelling alone, come under the rules for commercial imports. Once in Spain pets need Passport in order to travel to other countries within or outside the European Union.

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svChampagne says:
Sep 09, 2017 01:39 PM

August 2017

Enjoyed the dramatic sights offered by circling Isla Dragonera before dropping hook in what passes for the island’s only anchorage at Cala Llado. A quick jump in the water with a mask revealed a less than ideal anchorage and all who use it should BE AWARE:

Holding is very sketchy. The bottom offers tiny patches of grass amongst a cavernous collection of large and jagged rock. Our anchor bit simply because it snagged a crack along the top of a rock, lucky us. However, an anchor could easily land in any one of the abundant crevasses and become seriously fouled, or it could fail to grab anything. We watched a neighboring boat attempt to anchor several times before ultimately moving on.
There is a massive ridge-like rock amongst the surrounding 5-meter depths than raises much closer to the surface, to within about 2 meters (approximately N 39* 35.18’ by E 2* 19.68’). This rock was noted during my snorkeling explorations, however it appeared far-enough away to not warrant concern. Then, of course at O’dark thirty, a 180-degree wind-shift (seemingly not uncommon in these locales) swung our boat directly over said rock, and thunderous smashing sounds and vibrations had all hands on deck to remedy the situation. Anchor retrieval saw a small glitch but luckily the anchor did come up without too much fuss, perhaps the swing in direction actually helped dislodge us from the our little “crack” holding. At any rate, my imagination was certainly capable of imagining a much worse outcome, and it served as a good reminder to always anchor with a 360* view in mind.
We got underway and decided to cross the channel (less than a mile) in hopes of snagging a vacant mooring ball from the nearby Sant Elm field, we’ll sort the rest out in the morning. All went according to plan, and we were sleeping soundly until woken by a second round of smashing/crunching noises. “You gotta be kiddin’ me!” is all I could think as I hastily wrestled on a pair of shorts before gaining the deck. A large (18-meter or so) motor yacht still tied to it’s mooring ball was somehow tangled with us. Wha? A younger crew member of said yacht was doing his best to fend off the embattled bows. We joined the fight. We soon realized that their mooring had failed and they awoke as surprised as us. The skipper got his engines running, the crewman cast off his mooring lines, and we both parted ways relatively unscathed, thankfully. After the mess I watched their yellow mooring ball bob itself out to sea.

That was the first (and last) time we ever used one of the CBBA mooring balls. I am not writing this post as a targeted criticism against CBBA, nor am I opposed to fixed-moorings. Accidents do happen and even well-made parts do fail. Sooner or later, the sea claims all. That said, we should all be aware that such failures do occur, even in popular, protected, and well-funded first-world cursing grounds. Because we tied-up in the middle of the night and had not paid for the mooring, we were told by a staff member the following morning that we had little room for recourse. Considering that we received only scratches, the other boat was already gone, and that our itinerary was very tight we choose not to pursue the issue any further. All in all it was quite night, but thankfully—for me at least—all’s well that ends well.

I should note that we observed a number of boats using the anchorage at Isla Dragonera seemingly without trouble or hassle. I can only offer an account of my observations and experiences, of course every crew must decide for themselves. If you are new to the Med, as I am, I do recommend diving your anchor (especially if staying overnight) as the holding conditions seem quite differentiated and erratic.

dcaukill says:
Aug 25, 2017 07:24 AM


The drive to protect Seagrass (Posidonia) is making cruising Mallorca (Balearics) at anchor in particular very difficult.
You are not allowed to anchor anywhere where there is sea grass where your anchor or your chain touches it. The "posidonia police" come along and inspect your anchor then tell you to move on, even if your own dive onto your anchor showed no weed present. This is ANYWHERE. So if you drop into a cala or anchor off a beach (e.g. Cala Carogol) they will turn up and turf you off, even where they have not yet laid buoys.

Others have mentioned the price of moorings (Euro 50-100)and the fact you have to book them in advance by phone talking to someone whose English is about as good as my Spanish.

Makes you feel very unwelcome - we shall move on next season.

Richardss says:
Nov 18, 2016 08:29 PM

Wintering in Spain at Sotogrande

WE are leaving out boat out of the water at this marina the cost seems reasonable for a 13M sailboat at 4200 EU. The boat yard appears organized and there are lots of staff and security people around

Val Ellis
Val Ellis says:
Oct 22, 2016 10:37 AM

Posted on behalf of Mark & Lisa Powell

A warning to non-EU cruisers in the Med.

We would like to pass on our experience yesterday with French customs. As the website correctly states, non-EU registered boats may remain in EU waters for 18 months before payment of VAT is required. We entered the EU last July, after crossing the Atlantic in May and then spending some time in Portugal and “resetting the clock” in Gibraltar in July. Therefore, the boat could stay in the EU until Jan 2017 without paying VAT. However, before returning the US for the winter, we obtained a “Precinto” (6-month customs bond) in Spain. This basically put the boat in bond while we went back to the U.S. for 6 months. Our understanding was that this Precinto would stop the Temporary Importation (TI) clock for 6 months, effectively extending our time to 24 months in EU waters before VAT payment is required.

Yesterday, while motoring along the south coast of France (near Bandol/Toulon), we were approached and boarded by French customs. Because out boat has only been in EU waters for since last July (13.5 months), they were very cordial and we had no problems. We also showed them our Precinto from Spain. They were completely unfamiliar with this document. I also showed them the paragraph in the IMRAY cruising guide describing the customs bond and 6-month extension. In no uncertain terms, they told us that France does not provided such an extensions and that they would not recognize or honor this Precinto from Spain. They kindly suggested that we sail to Tunisia for a day to “reset the clock” before our 18-month deadline in Jan 2017. says:
Nov 10, 2013 06:04 AM

The above report is VERY astonishing!
Spain, having been hit by the crises quite hard (unemployment rate shooting to an average of 50%!) is in desperate need of funds - and they go and look for income wherever they can.

Very recently a yacht ("Air") has been seized by the authorities in Palma de Mallorca for an outragous claim for "back taxes" because it had advertised on its website to be available "for charter in the Western Med"!
Mind you: They have not advertised to be available for charter in Spain and they have not been caught actually doing illegal charter in Spain - just the mentioning on their website was enough for the authorities to seize the vessel!
The owner - a billionaire - has received very little sympathy from the public when he was billed € 20 Million(!) for the authorities to again release the yacht! While I have to admit that I can also keep my sympathies at check for people in that income range, I still feel that the concept behind this system to compensate for a significant drop in income from the yachting industry should be taken as a major alert to all of us!

Also very important to keep in mind is, that Spain may be a "member of the European Community" - but only on the paper. Sad truth is, that there is a lot of corruption and at least "massive bending of the law" going on - and foreigners cant expect to see much help from their own governments because by them Spain is considered a "law abiding member of the EC".

See for your info the story of an attempt to make a salvage case out of a simply emergency reported on our blog at: (in German and English) as well as an at least as outragous story that is still happening to us which you can read up at: (in English) or at: (in German)

As far as importing your boat to Europe I would most seriously dispute Spain to be the "by far best place" to go about this.

If you are comming from outside the Med, I would strongly recommend to go about this in Portugal (where most people speak English on top of it!).
I personally know the first hand story of a large 38m Schooner that had been imported to the EC in Lissbaon with the Authorities happily accepting the value stated by the owner as a basis to compute the taxes. (Which, in that case were rediculously low!)

Another good option I have heard a lot about is Croatia. But also Greece seems to be a place where one can strike a fairly good deal with just a tiny little bit of negotiation.

On the other hand does Spain, France and most of all Italy have the reputation of being "hard headed" and especially if you run into an official having a bad hair day can quickly get out of hand.

Just my 2 Cents.....

Sue Richards
Sue Richards says:
Oct 25, 2013 01:11 PM

Posted on behalf of Don Stewart, SV Glenn Farr
By far the best place to import your boat into in Europe is Spain. The valuation of the boat is based on the "blue book" price (or if your boat is not listed, then listed sale price of your model boat or similar found on the internet). This was the case with my sailboat. Of course there were a number of different boats for sale. They took the middle of the road price. The procedure is then to take 10% of that price and charge VAT/IVA on that. So for example, if your boat is valued at $50,000 then you pay VAT/IVA on $5,000. The whole process took place at the customs office in Barcelona. This was the only office we had to visit. Officials were very friendly.

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Great New Service for noonsite users: Get notified of cruising news, reports and country updates as they are posted

Great New Service for noonsite users: Get notified of cruising news, reports and country updates as they are posted  (23 May 2013)

St. Martin to the Azores: SY Lady Domina still overdue/missing

St. Martin to the Azores: SY Lady Domina still overdue/missing  (22 May 2013)

Heading to the Mediterranean this Summer?

Heading to the Mediterranean this Summer?  (20 May 2013)

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Spain and the Canary Islands: Anchoring Restrictions  (11 Oct 2012)

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Gibraltar: Diamond Jubilee Flotilla 4 June 2012  (27 May 2012)

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Mallorca, Port Soller: Crackdown on Anchoring - Update  (14 May 2012)

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Some Good News Regarding the International Certificate of Competence  (07 Mar 2012)

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European Inspectors Focus on Yacht Safety   (10 Feb 2012)

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The Cruising Association Share the Secrets of Sailing the Bay of Biscay  (02 Dec 2011)

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Spain: More Tax for Spanish Boat Owners  (02 Nov 2011)

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Portugal, Algarve - Marina de Lagos Special Offers  (15 Jul 2011)

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Spain: Yachting Protest over Matriculation Tax in Palma de Mallorca  (02 May 2011)

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Yachts in Europe: New Marine Safety Inspections from Jan 2011   (06 Jan 2011)

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Spanish Berth Owners Safe - "Law of the Coast" Called Off  (16 Aug 2010)

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European Storm Xynthia - France Hardest Hit  (01 Mar 2010)

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European Black Water Regulations  (22 Nov 2009)

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Reminder of the Effect of the Schengen Regulations  (06 Sep 2009)

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ISDMT Tax Crackdown Begins in Torrevieja, Alicante, Spain  (09 Jan 2009)

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Two survive on raft three nights after yacht sinks  (27 Nov 2008)

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Missing Yacht - Formosa ´68  (07 Oct 2008)

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Boater fined €150,000 after delaying ship  (22 Aug 2007)

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Book Of The Month - Mediterranean Spain: Costas del Sol and Blanca  (11 Apr 2006)

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EU extends VAT grace period for non-EU boats to 18 months  (23 Mar 2004)