Essential information for sailors heading for foreign climes

1.   It is an offence to carry Red Diesel in the tanks of a pleasure craft in Belgium and a few boaters have been subject to significant fines as a result. The RYA is working with Belgium authorities and the EU commission to resolve this issue. Find out more about this issue.
2.   For a useful outline of all the rules and regulations for boating in Belgium visit the following website which has been written by the Belgian authorities, follow this link.

1.   It is essential when boating in France to carry original documents, your registration, especially must be the original document.
2.   There have been lots of rumours over the years regarding boaters being fined in France including rumours relating to various items of equipment, such as out of date flares. It is unusual but not unknown for the French authorities to decide to apply their national legislation to a UK flagged visiting boat. Details of what you would be expected to have are available here.
It is important to note that French legislation requires equipment to be serviced and in date in accordance with the manufacturers’ instructions.
3.   Any vessel, French or foreign flagged, built from 1 January 2008 must have a treatment system or retention tank for black water if they wish to have access to French ports, mooring and anchorages.

1.   Evidence of competence is, in our opinion, essential in Spain; an ICC is recommended. This advice also applies throughout the Mediterranean.
2.   Historically there has been a lot of confusion over boat taxes in Spain. Anyone who is resident in Spain may be subject to significant taxes and should take legal advice. RYA members wanting to know more about keeping a boat in Spain can view further advice online at the RYA website.
“Recently there have been suggestions in the press that changes to the tax regime may be in the pipeline. At the time of writing there is however no further information available on this matter”, explains Carol.
3.   Discharge of sewage within Spanish territorial waters is not permitted.
4.   A Spanish translation of your insurance document is required. Check with your insurer.

1.   In Portugal third party liability insurance is required for motor boats and for sailing boats over 7 metres in length.
2.   Evidence of competence is essential; an ICC is recommended.
3.   Vessels in Portugal staying for more than 183 days may find themselves subject to taxes. Further information compiled by a local boating group in Portugal is available at Lagos Navigators’ website (select Bureaucracy).
4.   There have been one or two reports in 2011 of Portugal imposing elements of their national legislation on visiting boats e.g. carrying the correct quantity of flares. If the vessel in question is under the jurisdiction of the coastal state. (according to the Law of the Sea) the authorities are within their rights to do this. Lagos Navigators also provide an overview of the Portuguese requirements.
5.   A black cylinder by day and an all-round green over red over green by night is used in Portugal to indicate a port is closed. Check your Almanac for up to date information for specific ports.

1.   A common travel area (CTA) exists between the UK, the Channel Islands, the Isle of Man and the Republic of Ireland and passengers are not required to carry a passport or national identity document for immigration purposes. The CTA is a ‘free movement’ zone – if you have been given permission to enter one part of the CTA, this permission will usually allow you to enter another part of it (provided you do not leave the CTA). There are of course exceptions and further information can be found at the UK Border Association website.
2.   A Personal Flotation Device (lifejacket or buoyancy aid) must be worn by under 16s and by anyone on a boat under 7m in length.

Isle of Man
1.   Isle of Man offers reciprocal healthcare with the UK allowing UK residents to continue to receive free healthcare when visiting the Isle of Man.
2.   The Common Travel Area (CTA) is an immigration arrangement, and it does not regulate the movement of goods. Customs restrictions apply on all CTA routes except those between the Isle of Man and the UK. (For customs purposes, the Isle of Man is part of the UK and it is part of the EU for tax purposes.)

Kiel Canal
Routes such as the Panama Canal, the Suez Canal and the Kiel Canal fall outside the scope of United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). In each of these cases a treaty or convention provides an agreement by which the route is open to foreign vessel traffic. These waterways remain under the administration of the country through which they pass, but traffic is permitted subject to the terms of the treaty or convention until such time as the country withdraws from the agreement.
Visit the Kiel Canal website.

Travelling with Pets

Courtesy Flag
It is generally expected that a courtesy flag (a small version of the coastal state’s ensign) is hoist by foreign flagged vessels, acknowledging that they are in foreign territorial waters. You may come unstuck in some countries if your courtesy flag is tatty, too small or not there at all. In some instances – such as the UK – the maritime ensign is not identical to the national flag.

Schengen Area
The Schengen area has a single external border, within which internal boarders have been abolished and the free movement of people is guaranteed. Belgium and the Netherlands require that boaters complete a form on arrival from outside the Schengen Area. The UK is not part of the Schengen area.  

More information about boating abroad is available on the RYA website with further more detailed information available to RYA members.