Documents Required

Documents and Other Considerations when Cruising Abroad:

Clearance formalities vary greatly from country to country, being extremely simple in some and ridiculously complicated in others. The complexity of formalities is often a reflection of the nature of the regime in power and it can be safely assumed that the less liberal a country the more complicated its entry formalities.

Regardless of the country visited, or the kind of government in power there, formalities should always be taken seriously and even what look like illogical restrictions should always be complied with. Moreover, however lax or strict a country may be known to be, entry formalities must be completed as soon as possible, and the intention to do so must be indicated as soon as one enters that country’s territorial waters by flying the Q flag and contacting the relevant authorities by radio.

In the current security climate, it is now not unusual to have to advise the customs or coastguard authority of your ETA two or more days in advance. All countries where advance notice of arrival is required have this information clearly stated in bold.

See the individual Noonsite Formalities pages for each country for full details:
For example: https://www.noonsite.com/place/new-zealand/formalities/

Each port of entry also has localized clearance information:
For example: https://www.noonsite.com/place/new-zealand/north-island-new-zealand/opua-bay-of-islands/#clearance-section

Be sure to research the options for clearance ports in advance so you can select the most suitable one for clearing into and out of the country.

Boat Documents

It pays to carry all original boat documents.

Although some forms will have to be filled in on the spot (or for many countries now online in advance), considerable time can be saved by having some papers prepared beforehand (for example photocopies of the ship’s papers as well as plenty of crew lists).

Many cruisers now have a small printer/scanner on board to save time and effort finding a copy shop ashore. Place the documents in a solid folder with waterproof pockets or similar, to cope with countless trips ashore and thumbing.

Boat Registration

It is an international requirement that all vessels (including trailed sailboats) outside their home waters are properly registered. Many countries have a simpler (and cheaper) option to register a boat other than the more involved commercial register.

In the United States yachts can either be registered with the state where the owner lives or if ownership can be traced to the original owner, the vessel can be documented with the Coast Guard. The latter is generally preferable if possible when cruising abroad.

Note: USCG vessel documentation and renewals can now be done online. Read more at this noonsite news report.

Insurance Certificate

Many countries and some marinas insist on a minimum level of third-party insurance (be sure to carry the original document). Also, there may be an additional requirement such as a translation or a reciprocal arrangement with a local insurance company. See individual country pages for any special requirements e.g. Australia Documents.

Noonsite Insurance Information.

Radio Licence

A radio operator’s license, whether for VHF, HF or amateur radio, is required in most countries, although this is rarely checked. Some cruising yachts carry an amateur radio, most of their operators being properly licensed to operate a maritime mobile station. However, in some countries, such stations can only be used legally if the operator is in possession of a reciprocal license issued by the country concerned. In most places, this is a simple formality and costs a small fee. In a few countries there are strict restrictions on the use of any radio equipment while in port, while in others, such as Thailand and New Zealand, the use of portable marine VHF radios on land is forbidden.

Noonsite Communications Information

VAT Paid Certificate

If cruising in Europe with an EU registered boat, then a certificate showing that VAT has been paid will be expected. In the case of an older boat, then endeavor to obtain a Customs declaration that ‘VAT is deemed to have been paid’, before leaving your home. Without it, a Customs official can insist that VAT is paid on the current value of the boat at the rate applicable in the country being visited.

Noonsite VAT Information

Clearance or Exit Document

This is the document which is (or should be) issued to show that a boat has left a previously visited country legally. It is often called a ‘zarpe’. It will be expected at your next port of call. Note that some countries do not issue exit zarpes as a matter of routine (e.g. USA) so some planning will be required if your destination country will not permit entry without one.

Other Documents

As well as the above, some countries may also want to see the ship’s logbook (this can be used as a legal document) and a list of electronic or other valuable items on board.

Boat Stamp

A ship’s stamp is greatly appreciated in many countries where, for some strange reason, a rubber stamp has a certain authority. The stamp should show the name of the boat, registration number, and flag state.

Useful Resources

  • Managing Essential Paperwork whilst Cruising

    Even when you cast off your lines, bills, tax returns and admin still follow in your wake. This Yachting World article explains how to make... Read More

  • Storing Documents on Board

    Some useful ideas from Carolyn Shearlock of the Boat Galley.

    http://theboatgalley.com/storing-documents-on-a-boat/... Read More

  • UK Registration

    UK Maritime & Coastguard Agency has information on registering a yacht in the UK.

    https://www.gov.uk/register-a-boat/the-uk-ship-register... Read More

  • Where to Register your Yacht – A Guide

    Where to Register your Yacht Offshore: The Ultimate Guide... Read More

News

  • Indonesia: Super Yacht Asia Sinks Following Collision with an Unidentified Object

    Date Published - November 26, 2019

    This report was updated a few hours after it was posted with accurate facts from Asia's owners: Yacht Asia, a 29m superyacht, was lost in... Read More

Crew Documents

Passports

A valid passport is required for each crew member. It is a usual requirement that it is valid for at least six months. It is worth having good color copies of crew passports on board for carrying around when required instead of the real thing.

Visas

Ensure that every crew member who requires one, either has a visa in advance of arrival or ensure that a ‘visa on arrival’ will be issued. Visiting cruisers are often subject to different rules to those applied to visitors arriving by air or cruise liner. Be sure to check the current requirements well in advance of arrival. Some countries may have a convenient embassy in a neighboring state where a visa may be obtained. Do your research in advance using Noonsite’s detailed immigration information for each country.

For further information see Visa section below.

Crew Lists

Several copies of the complete crew list are likely to be requested when clearing into a new country. This list should include for each crew member, including the Skipper:-

– Full name
– Date and place of birth
– Nationality
– Passport number
– Date of expiry of the passport

Medical Information

Vaccination certificates if required.

Medicines: A prescription or a letter from a doctor specifying the medicine, and why it is taken, should accompany any medicines containing powerful narcotics or habit-forming drugs, especially those used by a member of the crew on a regular basis, such as heart and blood pressure medication, diuretics, tranquillisers, anti-depressants, stimulants or sleeping tablets. Also, take note if there is any particular restriction as some ‘over-the-counter’ medications can be restricted in some countries.

Skipper: Certificate of Competence

An International Certificate of Competence (ICC), or some official document showing the competence of the person in charge of the boat, is now required by officials in many countries. Whilst your home country may not require such a certificate, it is worth getting something before you start cruising to avoid any nasty surprises (see this Croatia report by American cruisers who had to pay to get a Croatia Boater’s License in lieu of an ICC certificate).

If traveling on the inland waterways of Europe, then proof of having passed the CEVNI exams is required. This is a theory test to ensure you understand the inland waterway rules and signage and can be done online.

It is not a general requirement in the Caribbean countries to ask for evidence of competence.

Noonsite Information on the International Certificate of Competence

Pets

Any animals on board must have international health certificates and their anti-rabies and other vaccinations should be kept up to date. All Noonsite Formalities have a pets section (for example https://www.noonsite.com/place/fiji/formalities/#pets-section).

Divers

If you carry scuba diving equipment on board, you may be asked to show diving qualification certificates before getting your tanks filled. In some countries spear guns are illegal. This is noted on the individual country pages under ‘Restrictions’.

Useful Resources

  • International Yacht Training (IYT)

    This website lists IYT schools worldwide that will provide ICC courses for candidates of any nationality.

    http://www.iytworld.com/index.php/schools... Read More

  • Managing Essential Paperwork whilst Cruising

    Even when you cast off your lines, bills, tax returns and admin still follow in your wake. This Yachting World article explains how to make... Read More

  • Royal Yachting Association

    The International Certificate of Competence can be obtained from them, as it is now required by most countries in Europe.

    Email: [email protected]

    http://www.rya.org.uk/Cruising

     ... Read More

Reports

  • Cruising Regulations: Obtaining an International Certificate of Competence (ICC)

    Date Published - July 18, 2018

    Even if a skipper's home country does not require any evidence of competency, officials in many countries expect one. Having an ICC will satisfy this... Read More

News

  • Coronavirus (COVID-19): Special Procedures Being Introduced in Ports of Entry Worldwide

    Date Published - February 12, 2020

    Most countries on the popular cruising routes have now closed to visiting yachts in reaction to COVID-19 Coronavirus. Finding a country for safe haven is... Read More

  • Some Good News Regarding the International Certificate of Competence

    Date Published - March 07, 2012

    The Royal Yachting Association in the U.K. (the RYA) can now also issue an ICC to non-U.K. citizens/residents. This covers nationals of non-UNECE countries, including... Read More

Books

  • The International Certificate of Competence

    This concise little book covers all that is required for both the theory and the practical tests for an ICC for Europe. It includes a... Read More

Boat Equipment

AIS

It is becoming more common for countries to expect a boat to have its AIS receiver switched on if the boat carries one. In a few places (e.g. Singapore & Thailand) AIS is mandatory and would have to be hired if not already fitted.

Safety Equipment

As a minimum, a boat should be equipped with any safety and emergency equipment as required by their flag state for offshore cruising. In some countries, it is illegal to carry out of date flares (e.g. France).

Spares

Any spares (even standard engine and refrigeration spares) may not be easily available in other countries or may be available at greatly inflated prices. Stock up before departure and remember to ask joining crew members to bring out spares in their luggage.

Firearms

If firearms are carried, these should be licensed in the country of origin, as this license will be requested in many places.

Any firearms, ammunition, flare guns, spear guns or similar weapons on board must always be declared to Customs on arrival. They will often be removed and held in safekeeping until departure or, at a minimum, must be in a secure, sealed locker.

Adaptors

Make sure you have a wide range of power and water adaptors available, plus adaptors for re-filling your gas bottle.

A longer shore power cable is a really useful extra for all those times when the power bollard is just too far away (crowded marinas, on the hard, public quays, etc.)

Extra Kit

Investigate the advantages of a WiFi booster for accessing the internet at anchor and in marinas.

Identify how you are going to secure your valuable deck items such as dinghy, outboard etc. and purchase suitable cables, locks, and chains to prevent theft.

Useful Resources

  • The Q Flag: What it means and when to fly it

    A useful summary by Carolyn Shearlock of the Boat Galley.

    http://theboatgalley.com/the-q-flag/... Read More

Useful Resources

  • International Yacht Training (IYT)

    This website lists IYT schools worldwide that will provide ICC courses for candidates of any nationality.

    http://www.iytworld.com/index.php/schools... Read More

  • Managing Essential Paperwork whilst Cruising

    Even when you cast off your lines, bills, tax returns and admin still follow in your wake. This Yachting World article explains how to make... Read More

  • Royal Yachting Association

    The International Certificate of Competence can be obtained from them, as it is now required by most countries in Europe.

    Email: [email protected]

    http://www.rya.org.uk/Cruising

     ... Read More

  • Storing Documents on Board

    Some useful ideas from Carolyn Shearlock of the Boat Galley.

    http://theboatgalley.com/storing-documents-on-a-boat/... Read More

  • The Q Flag: What it means and when to fly it

    A useful summary by Carolyn Shearlock of the Boat Galley.

    http://theboatgalley.com/the-q-flag/... Read More

  • UK Registration

    UK Maritime & Coastguard Agency has information on registering a yacht in the UK.

    https://www.gov.uk/register-a-boat/the-uk-ship-register... Read More

  • Where to Register your Yacht – A Guide

    Where to Register your Yacht Offshore: The Ultimate Guide... Read More

Reports

  • Cruising Regulations: Obtaining an International Certificate of Competence (ICC)

    Date Published - July 18, 2018

    Even if a skipper's home country does not require any evidence of competency, officials in many countries expect one. Having an ICC will satisfy this... Read More

  • Demystifying international clearance for cruisers

    Date Published - July 03, 2013

    One of the most common questions by cruisers new to extended cruising is details of clearing into countries. How does it work? What do you... Read More

  • Croatia: Recognised Certificates of Competence

    Date Published - June 21, 2012

    The report is a link to a website giving a list of certificates of competency, by various countries and recognised in Croatia... Read More

  • Proof of Competency for European Countries

    Date Published - November 04, 2011

    Updated January 2015 - Frequently asked questions.... Read More

  • US SAILING creates International Proficiency Certificate for Bareboat Chartering

    Date Published - March 01, 2010

    Original report posted in October 2005.

    In order to make it easier for cruising sailors from the U.S. to charter sailboats in the European Union, US... Read More

News

  • Coronavirus (COVID-19): Special Procedures Being Introduced in Ports of Entry Worldwide

    Date Published - February 12, 2020

    Most countries on the popular cruising routes have now closed to visiting yachts in reaction to COVID-19 Coronavirus. Finding a country for safe haven is... Read More

  • Indonesia: Super Yacht Asia Sinks Following Collision with an Unidentified Object

    Date Published - November 26, 2019

    This report was updated a few hours after it was posted with accurate facts from Asia's owners: Yacht Asia, a 29m superyacht, was lost in... Read More

  • Some Good News Regarding the International Certificate of Competence

    Date Published - March 07, 2012

    The Royal Yachting Association in the U.K. (the RYA) can now also issue an ICC to non-U.K. citizens/residents. This covers nationals of non-UNECE countries, including... Read More

Books

  • The International Certificate of Competence

    This concise little book covers all that is required for both the theory and the practical tests for an ICC for Europe. It includes a... Read More

Private Notes

12/02/2020 SR Been thinking about posting something for a week but nothing concrete about checking small yachts. Then bit by bit information came in, and it seems there are a number of places on cruiser itineraries right now that are implementing quarantine etc. Emailed lots of people and places and this is what we have so far. Need to contact more of North Pacific.
13/02/2020 LL added information from Federated States of Micronesia.
17/02/2020 SR Karen confirmed that Marshalls restrictions won’t expire on March 2nd but will be in place indefinately. Amended text.
19/2/2020 LL updated NZ information received from Ministry of Health.
27/02/2020 SR Updated Marshalls Info. with more countries banned as per the government notice (from Karen Earnshaw of SY Seal).
28/02/2020 SR OCC sent us Italy and Ireland info. Have updated countries too.
29/02/2020 SR Sent out a blanket email to encourage co-operation to all cruising associations I could think of. Getting replies, and Addison Chan emailed with Bahamas info. Will send to all contacts next.
29/02/2020 SR Read that Jamaica had turned away a cruise ship. Ministry of Health website had restrictions so published those. Caymans too have some measures – not too stringent – but added. DR very vague – have added and emailed Ministry for more details.
1/2/2020 LL added information for Samoa – all travellers arriving from certain ports have to undergo medical checks and if arriving from NZ have to have a medical certificate. Updated links to Aussie Dept of Health advisory for the maritime industry from Dept of Health website. Added info on PNG and travel ban between PNG and Torres Strait Islands
02/03/2020 SR Removed the countries that basically have just general visitor restrictions. We need to just stick to specific yacht checks. Getting feedback from SSCA and CA now. Added Turks and Caicos and Puerto Rico and Antigua. USA definitely nothing in place yet, but have military email to use for answers so might have something to post soon. Answered comment with what we know to date.
03/03/2020 SR Did a dig on facebook and turned up some new info. about Tunisia which I added.
03/03/2020 SR Claus, Panama rep of Danish Cruising Association, got in touch with Puerto Armuelles info. Good contact (new Karsten?) – [email protected]
03/03/2020 SR Email fwd by Lisa Dorenfest from Panama Posse of procedures in place in Boca Chica. Neither Erick or Claus have said anything about this. Have fwd to Erick to get an official stand on this but posted the info. to help cruisers for the time being.
03/03/2020 SR WARC Suzana fwd Tonga Health announcement.
04/03/2020 LL posted information from Fiji received from Cynthia at Port Denerau Marina.
04/03/2020 SR Joan Conover of SSCA has worked really hard to get the USA info. pinned down. Spent alot of time on the phone it seems. Well done Joan! I also moved around the country order starting with Caribbean and North America as hot spots now.
05/003/2020 SR Grenada MAYAG have come back good.
06/03/2020 SR Another busy morning. Palau comment posted – Lynda verifying but added info. St. Lucia updated by Peta (WARC contact) and Sarawak added – passed on Gov info. Jamie Furlong.
Malta information updated with details from Pierre at MIYM marina. Didn’t want his marina mentioned, but links he sent us are in public domain.
06/03/2020 SR El Salvador coronavirus situation passed on by regular contributor Rob Murray. have asked him where he got it from to confirm.
06/03/2020 Sr Turns out that MAYAG published Immigration changes for Grenada too fast and Immigration are getting uncomfortable about saying all POES except 2 are closed. So have asked us to remove info.
08/03/2020 SR Gwen of Marmaris fwd FCO advice on Turkey – added – and told us about greece/turkey ferry being cancelled.
08/03/2020 SR Saw on FB that Maldives have restrictions – emailed agent to double check. Then got email from OCC Port Officer to say the same so have added.
09/-3/2020 LL Received update on Cook Islands from Senior Immigration Officer Paul Crombie and on Singapore from Ai Li at Raffles Marina.
09/03/2020 SR Got update on Marshalls ban on yachts from Karen. She’s now in Hawaii but is keeping in touch over this. Keep an eye on Marshalls FB page.
09/03/2020 SR Cyprus added (Gwen sent a ministry of health advisory) and UK (from FCO – very little).
10/03/2020 SR Solomons new restrictions, limiting POE’s – Immigration officer Billy Noro got in touch – [email protected]
10/03/2020 SR Erick came back with update, first case in Panama. No restrictions yet but panic buying in shops so not so easy to stock up for Pacific crossing.
10/03/2020 SR Suzana reported on Bermuda – nothing yet but have added as hot country for Atlantic crossing. Checked Bahamas and indeed they have measures now. Added and am checking with Addison Chan if advance 24hrs health dec. applies to yachts as it does cruise ships.
10/03/2020 SR Checked BVI ministry of health and sure enough, new protocols in place. I think we need to be checking regularly for increased measures and new measures.
11/3/2020 LL Updated Galapagos with information received from Javier at galapagosyacht services. Saw a post on SE Asia FB page about Thailand – got info from link on FB page to The Phuket News. Added note about the whole of Italy going into lockdown. Also confirmed from Rachel at Seaspray Marine Services Langkawi who had just spoken to the Jabatan Laut and confirmed that private vessels are not affected by the cruise ship ban. Clearance procedures have not changed. Added note to same as it’s a popular cruising destination.
11/03/2020 SR Behan of Totem who is headed for FP was told by her agent that medical certificate is not required by yacht crew – yet. Updated text and country info.
11/03/2020 SR Dan of Marina Papagayo confirmed what’s going on – just increased checks but nothing onerous. Made a note on the news item but haven’t added to Costa Rica as not really anything new for now.
12/3/2020 LL Addison Chan confirmed that no extra procedures in place for yachts in the Bahamas; added information on VOA countries for Thailand; confirmed Marshall Islands are refusing entry to all yachts.
13/3/2020 LL Updated information on Colombia/ Cartagena procedures.
14/3/2020 LL Updated information on Cook Islands/Trinidad&Tobago/New Zealand, Panama
15/03/2020 SR Saw Lynda had published about Spain and Galapagos in News item but didn’t see in this doc. so added to this doc. and countries.
15/03/2020 SR found an email from Behan in spam re Am Samoa. Info. was in biosecurity, but not on news item. Added and updated. Montenegro also was detailed in country bio section but not on news – have added. Grenada updated with info. from OCC. Added Chile from info. Raul sent from Roaring Forties Marina.
16/03/2020 SR Added Croatia – Chris Robb sent an email from ACI marinas with a government link. Got info. from that.
16/03/2020 LL updated NZ and Australia from government health websites. New Caledonia information from Chloe Morin at Noumea Yacht. Confirmed by Richard Chesher.
16/03/2020 SR Spain closed borders – updated. Made just a link. Colombia no foreign boats. updated. Made just a link.
16/03/2020 SR Malaysia lockdown info. from WHO news item added to Malaysia bio and made into just a link.Colombia, Chile, Guatemala, Greece and Ireland updated from e-mails received..
16/03/2020 SR Read about South America in Reuters news announcement.
17/03/2020 LL updated Pitcairn Islands information from Brenda Christian, PI’s Police & Immigration Officer; also updated info about Cook Islands restrictions on yachts and private vessels. Also updated French Polynesia with information from Olivier from AVP. Updated Sth Africa information from Vanessa at SABBEX. Updated Malaysia closure with official notification sent by Rachel Robertson at Seaspray in Langkawi.
17/03/2020 SR Updated Malta and moved (waiting on details from contact) – Updated Bonaire and Curacao from tourist board websites -A&B – Statia added – Costa Rica now closed from Behan – Belize turning away boats from Diane Selkirk (need to find out more) – SVG from gov.uk website – more on Panama – more on US – more on Malta – ABC’s – Channel Islands UK (from OCC) – St Lucia (Sally told us, have asked AB for more details to save time). French Carib gone into lockdown – added and updated all.
18/03/2020 LL Updated Tonga with information from Tonga Online website; Cook Islands from Walter Tangata; French Polynesia from Pacific Puddle Jump
19/03/2020 LL updated Indonesia from Balihotelsassociationwebsite.
19/03/2020 SR too many updates to keep track of and keep noting here. have decided we no longer fill in update history, just note status and last updated date (from 18 March) next to country name. Have even stopped adding notes to update history in country sections too as takes too much time. Instead am dating updates in biosecurity section. Will have to do!!!

Update History

Date Last Edited

March 29, 2020 - 11:30 PM

Last Edited By