For an explaination of the rules applying to non-European Union registered boats, see European Union - VAT page.
For other information about the European Union, try their "user-friendly" website at http://europa.eu/index_en.htm
VHF Radio Regulations for European Inland Waterways
Are you sailing through inland waterways in Europe this year? If so, you may need an ATIS capable VHF radio with a valid ATIS code.
ATIS, (not to be confused with AIS), stands for Automatic Transmitter Identification System. This system is used on inland waterways in various countries in mainland Europe. At the end of every transmission the radio sends out a unique FFSK data signal, which contains the user or ship's unique ATIS call sign, this identifies you to marine coast stations and inland stations.
RAINWAT is the "Regional Arrangement Concerning the Radiotelephone Service on Inland Waterways" which, through the Basel Arrangement, has introduced the Automatic Transmitter Identification System (ATIS) for vessels making VHF transmissions whilst on the inland waterways of the signatory countries:
Austria; Belgium; Bulgaria; Croatia; Czech Republic; France; Germany; Hungary; Luxemburg; Moldova; The Netherlands; Poland; Romania; Slovakia; Switzerland; Serbia & Montenegro.
The Radio Communications authority of a boat's flag country is responsible for issuing the ATIS number which then has to be programmed into a ATIS-enabled VHF radio.
Last updated July 2009.
What does it mean?
The Schengen Agreement came into force in 1995. This Agreement links all member countries with a consistent visa policy and therefore a Schengen visa issued by any country under the Schengen rules will be valid for travel in all the Schengen countries. This means that one visa alone will enable the bearer to travel in all the Schengen countries.
Not all European Union countries are signatories to the Schengen Agreement.
Current members of Schengen Area are:-
Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland.
Short Stay Visits to the Schengen Area
A short stay visit (whether a visa is required or not) to the Schengen by non-EU citizens is now defined as 90 days in any 180 day period. See a full explanation at European Home Affairs page.
It is important to remember this restriction when contemplating an extended cruise in northern European waters and/or the Mediterranean if a member of your crew is a non-EU citizen.
If a Schengen visa is required, then application must be made to the Embassy or Consulate of the country which is the first port of call. Applications should normally be made to the Embassy in your home country, so pre-planning is important as your passport will have to accompany your application.
Applying for the visa once you have left your home country is very difficult indeed. Not entering the Schengen Agreement Area through the country specified on your application as your point of entry can also cause difficulties.
Travel insurance, including medical cover and repatriation, is also required when you apply for a Schengen visa.
How long can I keep my boat in a Schengen Country?
The rules applicable to how long the boats themselves may be kept in a Schengen country depend on whether is is a member of the EU. See European Union page for more details. Norway and Iceland are not members of the EU. See Norway customs and Iceland customs for more information.
Nationals NOT Requiring a Schengen Visa for Stays of Up to 90 Days
Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, the United States, Andorra, Argentina, Brazil, Brunei, Chile, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Israel, Malaysia, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, San Marino, Singapore, Uruguay, Vatican City and Venezuela.
NOTE: Citizens of non-EU countries who do not require a visa to visit a Schengen country, are still usually (but not always) subject to a 90 day limit in any 180 days.
Nationals NOT Requiring a visa for stays Longer than 90 days.
EU citizens and those of Norway and Switzerland.
Nationals of New Zealand are permitted to spend up to 90 days in EACH in several of the Schengen Area countries due to prior bilateral agreements.
See New Zealand Travel Advice
Nationals Requiring a Schengen Visa for any length of stay
Afghanistan, Albania, Algeria, Angola, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Belarus, Belize, Benin, Bhutan, Bolivia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Botswana, Burma (see Myanmar), Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cambodia, Cameroon, Cape Verde Islands, Central African Republic, Chad, China, Colombia, Comoros, Congo (Democratic Republic), Congo (Brazzaville), Côte d'Ivoire, Cuba, Djibouti, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia , Fiji Islands, Gabon, Gambia, Georgia, Ghana, Grenada, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Guyana, Haiti , India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Jamaica, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kyrgystan, Kiribati, Kuwait, Laos, Lebanon, Lesotho, Liberia, Libya, Macedonia, Madagascar, Malawi, Maldives, Mali, Marshall Islands, Mauritania, Mauritius, Micronesia, Moldavia, Mongolia, Montenegro, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar (formerly Burma), Namibia, Nauru, Nepal, Niger, Nigeria, Northern Marianas (Islands), North Korea, Oman, Pakistan, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Peru, Philippines, Qatar, Russian Federation, Rwanda, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Solomon Islands, São Tomé and Principe, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Serbia, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Suriname, Swaziland, Syria, Tajikistan, Taiwan, Tanzania, Thailand, Togo, Tonga, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Tuvalu, Uganda, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, Uzbekistan, Vanuatu, Vietnam, West Samoa, Yemen, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
A copy of the Schengen visa application form can be found here.
Last updated October 2014.