Suez Canal: Transit Information

A transit of the Suez Canal requires some planning. There is a lot of paperwork to complete and a pilot is required for the whole transit. In addition, there is an overnight stop at Ismailia and clearance has to be completed once the transit is complete. It is possible to complete the formalities oneself when transiting from Port Said but an agent has to be used for a transit from Suez Port.

Clearing into and out of the country, nor visas, are needed by anyone traveling on a yacht transiting the Suez Canal and remaining in the port area. For more details see Egypt Formalities [https://www.noonsite.com/place/egypt/formalities/].

Port clearance fees for canal transits continue to fluctuate dramatically with a large price hike for southbound yachts in January 2024. Fortunately this fee has now been removed, however, speak with your agent to confirm the latest fees as they tend to change at short notice.

Published 5 years ago, updated 1 week ago

Suez Canal transit

TRANSITING NORTH TO SOUTH – Port Said to Suez Port

Captains of yachts intending to transit the Canal from the north, must check-in at Port Said. This port is only really suitable for checking in as the swell is extremely bad. All yachts are informed at the yacht club either by a club official or an official of the Canal Authority, on the correct procedure to follow.

A port clearance fee for Port Said has to be paid, on top of the transit and agent fees. This increased substantially in January 2024 to US$900-$1000, however, the good news is that mid-February 2024 it was removed completely. Fees do tend to fluctuate wildly, so be sure to confirm with your agent in advance if there have been any changes.

Although time-consuming, taking about 2-3 days, the formalities can be carried out by the captain alone and the service of an agent is not essential. It does, however, make life a lot easier as the agent will handle all of the below.

The captain first has to visit the Small Craft Department in the main building of the Canal Authority in Port Said. He will be instructed as to the various formalities to be carried out and also the payments to be made. These payments include the transiting fee, insurance policy, ports and lights fee (see fees further down the page).

Pre-Transit Procedures:
The following offices must be visited in  Port Said (southbound):

  • Suez Canal Small Craft Department: to present ship’s documents and request transit.
  • Port Immigration: to complete arrival forms even by those who do not require a visa.
  • Insurance company: to issue insurance certificate*.
  • Return to the small craft office to present the insurance certificate.
  • The day before the transit the Customs and Quarantine offices must be visited to clear the yacht out of the country. The officers may visit the yacht too.
  • Port immigration office: to present departure form.
  • Red Sea port authority: to issue the port clearance.
  • Return with the port clearance to the small craft office who will give it to the pilot before the transit.
  • Inspection office: for final inspection before the transit in order to issue a transit permit.
  • All yachts have to be searched by the Egyptian army before transit. The usual timing for army boarding is at 1900 the day before transit.
  • On the day of the transit, the small craft office will call the skipper to collect the pilot and take him to the yacht club to commence the transit.
    Pilot boarding time not before 10 am (see notes further down about the transit).

Notes:

  • Since May 2022, there has been no Suez Canal measurement for yachts up to 300 tons, on the basis that the yacht’s tonnage is recorded in the yacht’s registration certificate. This means that determining the fees for canal transits no longer depends on the estimated tonnage made by the SCA, but instead on the actual registered tonnage of the yacht. This saves both time and money.
  • No Suez canal certificate is issued for small craft, but your Suez canal gross tonnage is registered under the yacht name in the canal authority system, making paperwork for a second transit much simpler.
  • * Yacht owners do not have to have prior arranged insurance for the Suez Canal. Your agent will organise transit insurance.

Exiting at Suez Port:

Normally, southbound yachts stop at the Suez Yacht Club before continuing into the Red Sea. Port Suez is the safest place to leave your boat if you wish to explore Egypt inland.

After the transit, once you have dropped off the pilot, you can leave Port Suez any time you wish. Standard fees are charged for stopping here (see below), so it makes no difference how long you stay.

There are only two more ports further south in Egypt: Hurghada (extremely expensive) and lastly Port Ghalib (very expensive). Most yachts check out of Egypt at Port Suez and sail straight through Egypt only stopping at the designated anchorages (see restrictions).

Note: You cannot go ashore anywhere on route, you cannot stop at any Island except for Gifton Island at Hurghada. If there are military personnel near an anchorage, they will most likely come and check paperwork. Be polite and courteous and all should be okay. They may in extreme circumstances ask you to leave.

TRANSITING SOUTH TO NORTH – Suez Port to Port Said

Captains of yachts intending to transit the Canal from the south, must check-in at Port Suez. It is essential that you contact your agent before you arrive at Suez. The agent has to complete clearance formalities with the authorities prior to your arrival.

A port clearance fee for Port Suez has to be paid, on top of the transit and agent fees. This remains at US$185 for yachts up to 60ft in length and US$280 for yachts over 60ft. There is also an additional charge of US$150 when transiting during national holidays, on a Friday or Saturday.

Pre-Transit Procedures:

  • Submit a copy of the yacht’s registration certificate and crew list to the local agent in advance of your arrival.
  • The agent will then obtain all the approvals necessary to allow entrance to the anchorage.
  • On arrival at the Suez anchorage, call Suez Port Control and request permission to enter the anchorage, which is at the Suez Yacht Club.
  • Port Control will then get in touch with the Agent and arrange for them to meet the yacht at the Suez Yacht Club. The Suez Yacht Club is located on the left-hand side of the Canal, just beyond the Canal Authority buildings.
  • All yachts have to be searched by the Egyptian army before transit. The usual timing for army boarding is at 1900 the day before transit.
  • On the day of the transit, the small craft office will call the skipper to collect the pilot and take him to the yacht club to commence the transit.
    Pilot boarding time not before 10 am (see notes further down about the transit).

Notes:

  • No Suez canal certificate is issued for small craft, but your Suez canal gross tonnage is registered under the yacht name in the canal authority system, making paperwork for a second transit much simpler.
  • * Yacht owners do not have to have prior arranged insurance for the Suez Canal. Your agent will organise transit insurance.

Exiting at Port Said:

If you are not stopping anywhere else after the transit, the outward clearance can be obtained while doing the transit formalities. Yachts may then proceed to sea as soon as they have dropped the pilot. However, you will not be allowed to leave the port in Ismailia. The alternative, if you have a visa, and wish to go ashore at Ismailia, is to check out of the country at Port Said. You won’t want to hang around in Port Said as the swell is terribly bad.

THE TRANSIT – BOTH WAYS

A regular canal transit takes two days, with an overnight stay in Ismailia.

On the day of the transit, the pilot will arrive in the morning (not before 10 am) to guide the yacht as far as Ismailia in the NW corner of Lake Timsah, where the yacht must spend the night as yachts are not allowed to transit at night. The crew are not allowed to go ashore. Early the following morning, either the same pilot or another one will continue the transit to Suez or Port Said.

Transiting the canal in one day is possible, starting from mid-September. This is considered a special service and is offered to the yachts that request it for an amount of 5000 dollars. For a one day transit yachts must be capable of a consistent speed of 7 knots. See circular by the Suez Canal Authority.

CANAL REGULATIONS

  • Yachts must be capable of a consistent speed of 5 knots, which will be checked during the technical inspection. The speed limit in the canal is 9 knots. Yachts normally transit just after the morning convoy.
  • It is not permitted to sail in either in the canal or the Bitter Lakes.
  • If a yacht breaks down, you can only be towed by a Canal Authority boat (at a high fee!). However, it’s wise to contact your agent first who may be able to sort out a cheaper solution.
  • The Canal transit takes two days with a stop-over at Ismailia.

Note: There have been reports of several yachts being run aground, and one severely damaged, due to the incompetence of the Egyptian pilot. It is therefore strongly recommended that at no time should the pilot be allowed to steer the boat, that the latest charts of the Canal are constantly referred to and that if it appears that the pilot is giving wrong instructions, such as advising the person at the helm to leave the main channel to cut a corner, the captain should use his or her common sense before accepting such advice.

BERTHING

The Suez Canal Authority are currently developing all yacht-related services and infrastructure in the three Canal Cities. A development plan to improve the facilities at Ismailia Marina began in April 2022 and was completed in September 2023 with the marina now offering 120 berths and enhanced bunkering services and maintenance facilities. They are working towards having a digital documentation service for the transiting/berthing yachts. Suez and Port Said are the next ports/marinas to be developed.

To book a berth in any of the 3 marinas, or make an equiry, contact the Suez Canal Authority at [email protected].

FEES

Suez Canal Transit and Pilotage Fees:

These will be indicated by the Suez Canal officials who board the yacht on arrival. There is no Suez Canal measurement for yachts up to 300 tons, on the basis that the yacht’s tonnage is recorded in the yacht’s registration certificate. This means that determining the fees for canal transits no longer depends on the estimated tonnage made by the SCA, but instead on the actual registered tonnage of the yacht. This saves both time and money.

  • The fee is approx. US$7 per ton.
  • Total fee may vary from US$300-700.
  • Fee for a one-day special transit: US$5,000.

For yachts over 300 tons, it is advisable to visit the Suez Canal Measurement office and check the calculation to ensure your agent is not over-charging. Once you are measured you go on record, so do not get measured again for subsequent transits.

The canal fee used to be a return fee (long term limited offer): so as long as you returned within 6 months your return transit was free. However, in October 2022 the Chairman of the Suez Canal Authority agreed to cancel the free transit dues on the return trip for sailing yachts.

DISCOUNT!! From 1 July to 1 October, 2024, yachts under 300 tons will receive a 50% transit rebate.

Port Clearance (Sailing Permit):

Southbound – Port Said:
No charge (as of mid-February 2024)

Northbound – Port Suez:
US$185 for yachts up to 60ft in length
US$280 for yachts over 60ft.
US$150 additional charge when transiting during national holidays, on a Friday or Saturday.

Note: The Red Sea Ports Authority have a history of suddenly substantially increasing the costs of port clearance for yachts. On 1 January 2024, southbound port clearance was increased from US$265 to US$900-1000. Mid-February 2024 the fee was removed completely.

…………………………………………

Sample Agent Fees, 2024
From Agency Prince of the Red Sea.
Noonsite members and friends enjoy a 10% discount on agency fees.

Northbound Transit – Port Suez:

  1. Suez Canal Transit Dues: Determined after measuring the volume of the yacht by SCA, but generally approx US$ 7 per ton.
  2. Port Clearance (Sailing Permit):
    US$ 185 up to 60 ft long.
    US$ 280 over 60 ft long.
    US$ 150 an additional fees charged, when transit during national holidays, Friday and Saturday,
  3. Port Dues:
    – National Security: US$ 70.
    – Immigration Dept.: US$70.
    – Insurance Certificate: US$ 7
    – Bank commission US$ 15 for electronic transfer of transit fees to SCA treasury
  4. Marinas Fees in Port Suez:
    Up to 15 meter: US$21 per night.
    Over 15 meter: US$ 30 per night.
  5. Agency Fees: US$ 50

Southbound Transit – Port Said:

  1. Suez Canal Transit Dues: Determined after measuring the volume of the yacht by SCA, but generally approx US$ 7 per ton.
  2. Port Clearance (Sailing Permit): Zero
  3. Port Dues:
    – US$ 200 (inc. Immigation, State Security and Police)
    – US$ 250 (port disbursement – Customs, explosives check, insurance and port and lighthouse admin. fees)
  4. Marina Fees in Port Said: US$30 per night.
  5. Agency Fees: US$ 150

Ismailia marina (mandatory overnight stop during transit) costs US$ 50 per night – marina fees and diesel can be paid by credit card.

…………………………………………

Suez Canal Agents:

Take great care when appointing an agent for transiting the Suez Canal. Speak with other cruisers for recommendations and read reports on Noonsite. Some shipping agents may offer low prices at the outset, however, once they have your papers they may quote an increase in fees due to “changing of the canal dues” or some “tariff” they had overlooked. The yacht’s owner is obliged to pay.

NOTES

  • No Entry visa required before arrival or during transit.
  • Canal Transit in 2 days (80 miles) – with overnight in the middle of the canal (Ismailia Yacht Club).
  • Using 2 Canal Pilots during transit.
  • All agents’ and Suez Canal fees must be paid in US dollars, therefore some cash should be carried. It is advisable that, where possible, the services expected and the fees to be paid should be fully agreed beforehand.
  • If you arrive in Egypt and Suez is your first port of entry, the above fees for a northbound transit (assuming you are transiting the canal) are all you will have to pay for clearance and transit. Substantially cheaper than clearing in elsewhere with the new rates introduced in October 2022. See Fees for details and confirm with your agent prior to arrival.For the time being, new (high) clearance fees are not being applied to Suez Canal ports.
  • Agency Prince of the Red Sea, do offer Noonsite subscribers a 21% discount on their agency fees using code “PORS 1234”.
  • For Egypt clearance details and fees see Formalities.

WARNING NOTES

  • Do not rely on the pilot knowing anything about piloting a yacht. Keep in 8-10m of water close to the buoys if the flow is against you and 15-18m if the flow is with you. You can gain well in excess of 1 knot doing so.
  • No yacht can transit the canal if a warship is passing through.
  • If you have problems in the Canal, such as engine trouble, it is best to contact your agent first who may be able to find a solution. The tow spot agents in Port Said for small craft are Prince and Felix. If the Canal Authority are contacted they will send a Canal tug and the charges are extremely high.
  • Be prepared for the “baksheesh” culture of the canal and carry plenty of small change US$

PERMITTED SHELTER ANCHORAGES IN RED SEA EGYPT

For details of anchorages where yachts are pemitted to stop for shelter on the approaches to the south of Suez see the Noonsite Restrictions section.

USEFUL LINKS:

Suez Canal Authority (SCA)

Port Said Website

Suez Port Website

Comparative Agents Fees

Read and Post Related Comments

Related to following destinations: , , , ,


You must Login or Register to submit comments.

  1. November 8, 2021 at 9:50 PM
    profile photo
    sue-richards says:

    While Suez Canal fees will be going up by 6% in February 2021 for commercial vessels, it is understood this will not be applied to yachts.

  2. March 26, 2021 at 9:18 AM
    profile photo
    sue-richards says:

    The Red Sea Port Authority raised sailing permit (Port Clearance) fees March 2021 from $60 to an incredible $930. Yachts currently waiting to transit the Suez Canal have no choice but to pay, although no one can actually transit at the present time as a “mega ship” has blocked the canal [https://gcaptain.com/grounded-mega-ship-blocking-suez-canal-in-both-directions/]in both directions. A similar fee increase happened in 2019 [https://www.noonsite.com/news/egypt-port-said-significant-reduction-in-clearance-fees-for-southbound-transits-of-the-suez-canal/] and after 12 months fees were brought down to a more reasonable level. It is hoped the same thing will happen this time. For now though, fees to transit Suez are on a par with those for the Panama Canal.