What Papers Do I Need To Have On Board?
There are many sources on the internet to guide you on this and again I am not an expert so this is just my personal experience of most places around the Med. This list assumes a British yacht with mainly British nationals on board. Other nationalities may experience some subtle differences.
- A current passport for each person on board that has at least 6 months to run.
- A visa for non-EU countries such as Turkey.
- Non-EU nationals will need an EU Schengen visa plus individual visas for any non-schengen area countries visited. All EU countries bordering the Mediterranean are part of Schengan.
- A crew list showing all people on board together with passport type & number, nationality etc. Some countries also want home address as well.
- Yacht Registration paper. Either GB Ship Register Part 1 or Small Ship Register (SSR) is acceptable.
- VAT documents showing at least that any VAT queries are the domain of the U.K. Authorities. I.e. Bill of Sale in U.K.
- Yacht insurance papers usually including local language translations. Most marine insurance companies know what to provide for each country so just say you are visiting them all. Italy now also insists on the main engine, the dinghy & outboard being explicitly mentioned.
- Radio Licence - now acquired online and self updated with any new kit - I have never been asked for this.
- Skippers qualifications - the International Certificate Competence (ICC) is preferred over my Yachtmaster Instructor papers mainly because they can read it in 8 languages.
- Dinghy qualifications - have these added to your ICC. Increasingly port authorities are treating a yacht tender as a separate vessel that must be operated by a qualified person. So far separate insurance has not been asked for but make sure your tender is clearly marked as "Tender to Yacht Name".
- Your Right to Operate the Yacht. If a registered owner of the yacht is not on board then you will need a signed paper showing you have the right to operate the yacht. This can be a simple signed letter but the more "Official" you can make it look the better. Get a self inking stamp showing the yacht name and a date, then sign over the stamp, - fools them every time.
- Turkey requires a list of all major items of equipment together with serial numbers - I was never asked for this but it seems to be a way of controlling the illegal import and selling of gear.
- Cruising Log - opinion differs on the level of detail that is needed. As a minimum you should be able to show where you have sailed and where you spent each night. Most electronic charts will log this for you if you wish. Ideally you should log any Distress calls you hear recording as much detail as you can. In practice calls like these tend to be heard when the weather is bad and you are both already busy coping with that.
- Medical Insurance - some countries (i.e. Turkey) now expect you to carry medical and repatriation insurance especially if you intend to stay for some time. Check your target destinations each year as things can change suddenly. I use Bishop Skinner brokers, now part of Bluefin, who carry the RYA insurance. I have found them to be very knowledgeable, responsive and fair when a claim is made.
- Country Specific papers. Some countries (Greece & Turkey especially) issue you with special permit papers to manage your stay in their waters. This can mean an onerous and exhausting day spent booking in and tramping between police, port, customs and Tax offices dealing with officials who do not appear to recognise nor understand their own procedures. The best advice I can give is "Keep Smiling, Keep Calm and think about all that Sun you can enjoy tomorrow once you are booked in". Border Authorities, the world over, seem to be selected for their lack of humour and tolerance so stay polite at all times!
Even on a dry yacht things get can get wet or at least damp so Hot Laminate everything you can, especially major receipts and VAT papers etc.
Have good quality copies made of everything, hot laminate them so they are near identical and always offer those copies out first to marinas and port authorities. I have 3 sets of everything as they are cheap to do.
I try to never let the originals leave the safety of the yacht. In 10 years I have only been challenged once that my Yacht Registration was a copy. I said I didn't like to have my docs off the boat and that was accepted as OK. Occasionally, port authorities like to keep your papers while you are there. Much less stress if they only have the copies.
Scan all documents into an encrypted PDF and keep that in the cloud off the boat so if the worst happens you can access them easily to prove who you are. Quite simple in today's connected world.
Keep marina and fuel receipts safely. Several times in the past it has been necessary to prove the yacht's location on a particular day to get or to avoid certain things. There is no reason to assume it won't happen again and receipts like these will be invaluable to support your log.