Country Entry & Exit Requirements & Schengen

From the blogs I read, it seems that entering and exiting countries when you are on a boat can be a bit of a painful process requiring a day or more of donkey work and filling in of forms to get both yourselves and the boat cleared in and out of the various countries that you visit.

Thorough homework is definitely required prior to entering to ensure you meet the various entry and or visitor visa requirements. Some places require you to apply in advance. Others restrict the amount of time you can stay. Often only a handful of ports in each country are able to complete this process, which can also dictate your travel plans and cruising routes.

A great website to check out is There is a wealth of information on there about not only immigration formalities for cruisers, but also security and cruising tips for the country you are visiting.

Wikipedia has got a great list of all the countries in the world and what the visa requirements are for New Zealand citizens and I am also lucky to also have a British passport. So if it is easier to check in to a country using my alternative passport then this could be another option.

I am planning on buying my boat in Europe and bringing it back to New Zealand. One issue I need to contend with is the EU Schengen Visa requirements. The other is VAT.

Schengen is the EU area common visa policy. Pre Brexit and with my British passport, I could stay in the EU for as long as I liked. But going forward there are some questions as to how that will work. Visitors from some countries are only allowed visa free access to this area for a period of up to 90 days within a 180 day period. New Zealander’s have got special dispensation to this rule and that we are allowed to have 90 days in each of the Schengen countries. Some more info about New Zealander’s in the Schengen area can be found here.

The other issue is VAT, and  I have written a post on the various tax implications of buying a boat. Click here to read.


To give you an idea of some of the documentation required when entering or exiting a country, here are the customs & Immigration requirements for a vessel leaving New Zealand:

  • A New Zealand Departure card for each person on board (same as you would complete if you were flying internationally with your passport details etc)
  • C2B outward report form – on this form they want to know lots of detail including, medicines, the stores or duty free on board, if you are carrying any commercial items (for sale), where you are going, when you intend to come back, and also:
  • Yacht Details – including name of vessel, type of yacht, flag, official registration number, gross registered tonnage, LOA in feet and metres, call sign, name of registered owner, address of owner and a recent photo of the vessel.
  • Crew list – including full name, home address, date of birth, passport details etc
  • Passports and copies of them including any visas if required
  • Registration Papers – see Ships part B registration
  • Category 1 safety certificate – if a registered NZ yacht
  • If your yacht was on a temporary visit – then you should have the temporary import entry (TIE) documentation
  • If you have crew flying in to meet you, then you should also provide them with a letter from the captain confirming that they will be departing the country on your vessel.

You should give Customs 72 hours notice of your intended departure and once they have given you the certificate of clearance then you must leave New Zealand for your international port immediately.

More information can be found here.

Some other countries also require

  • Radio licence for the boat and an operators certificate for one of the crew
  • Clearance papers (zarpe) from the last country visited
  • VAT paid or exempt certificate (when in the EU)
  • A ships stamp is also a requirement in certain countries – including name of yacht, registration number, home port, picture of a yacht or perhaps an anchor – with room in the middle for a date and a signature
  • Original of the third party insurance for the yacht
  • Certificate of competence for the captain
  • The ships log book
  • A CEVNI certificate (if on the inland waterways of Europe)
  • A list of electronic and other valuable items on board
  • Dive card if you want to get tanks filled
  • Letter from a doctor specifying the medicine and why it is taken on a regular basis

For vessels arriving in NZ there are some other rules to take in to consideration. Check out the Customs Yacht Pack for detailed information.

  • Prior to departing for New Zealand, you need to send ahead an Advanced Notice of Arrival form. This details all the vessel details, where you are coming from, who is on board, any animals or cargo.
  • You must give 48 hours notice of your intended arrival and port. You can radio through to Maritime radio and they will advise Customs and the Ministry of Primary Industries people.
  • When you enter NZ territorial waters (12 miles out) you must fly the Q flag
  • On arrival you need to present an Inward Report Small Craft – this repeats some of the information on the Advanced Notice, but in a lot more detail
  • Passports, visas (if required) and arrival cards for each crew member
  • Temporary Import form (if your boat is not registered in New Zealand)
  • Clearance from the previous port
  • Evidence of funds – at least NZD$400.00 per person per month if living on board.
  • If your crew are flying home, they will also need to provide either an onward booked ticket or evidence of funds available to purchase a ticket.
  • Your visitor visa will allow you to stay in NZ for three months, and you can extend this for up to nine months, and sometimes up to twelve months – for special reasons – ie. the boat is having a major refit or you are waiting out the cyclone season. It is super important to not overstay your visa.
  • A declaration regarding biosecurity items – you can’t bring any fresh fruit, vegetables, meat, honey, untreated wood, and many other things in to New Zealand. There is a long list of items which are either prohibited all together, or need to be declared and checked. Best to read up on this before you arrive so you can make sure you eat everything you have that can’t be brought in!
  • Your vessel will be checked to make sure you aren’t inadvertently bringing in any insects or animals – this also applies to the hull. They may ask you when your vessel was last cleaned and anti fouled and you may be asked to provide evidence of it being done – i.e. receipts, boat yard & haul out documents etc. Being so far away from other countries we have a sensitive ecology here that doesn’t take too kindly to invasive species coming in. If you have a pet on board there are all sorts of regulations with them as well.
  • Duty free stores – check the limits on alcohol and cigarettes that you can bring in to the country.
  • Any firearms will be taken and held by the police until your departure. There are also restrictions on knifes and other weapons, including pepper sprays.
  • You can temporarily import your yacht in to New Zealand for up to two years. After two years you need to pay customs charges including duty and GST. If you are a non-NZ resident and your boat is here temporarily, you might also qualify for GST free repairs and boat parts.

More information on arriving in New Zealand can be found here.

I plan to get one of those folders that has the plastic sleeves you can insert documents in to. I will have the original documents on one side and the photocopies of those documents on the other side to give out if required. Also a spare set of copies of all these documents in our grab bag.

Some countries require you to have an ‘official stamp’ for your yacht, and that some countries in Asia insist on it. It should have the following information:

  • Vessel Name
  • Registration Number
  • Home Port

Or something along these lines. We haven’t got our registration number as yet, but here is a mock up.

Yacht stamp, offical seal

Working for a Member of Parliament, I deal with lots of people who have issues with Government Departments – mainly stemming from not providing the correct information on forms. My advice to them – fill in the forms correctly and honestly. Don’t leave any gaps and provide all the information they require. So many problems could be avoided by just doing this simple thing!

So dear readers, do you have any advice, suggestions or stories relating to arriving or departing countries by boat? Any tips are gratefully received!


7 thoughts on “Country Entry & Exit Requirements & Schengen

  1. A friend of mine in Romania had a Bavaria 50 new at 260 euro and only kept it a year, sold for 100k euro as he was tight on cash, so there are some serious bargains if you dont mind a plane trip to a strange destination!, well done on another great artical.

    I asked Jenny and Alan on ‘Jenny M’ how long it took to get from the UK to NZ, they said 4 years, I asked why so long, they said, whats the rush? ! – Dudley


  2. Great article – don’t forget the marriage certificate -it’s useful in Tahiti where most boats have to pay a deposit (airfare for plane ride home for everyone on the boat) if the skipper has a UK passport and does the checking in, their husband/wife does not have to pay the deposit either…. they may question this but it was right – first time was easy, second time we had to remind them – easy peasy after they had checked with their bosses!…. also if you have a UK passport in the EU they CANNOT split you up. We are still investigating what this means. I have a UK passport and Noel has an Aussie one – he did get a visa for France (long process but free, while we were here)… as long as you are talking to them it is okay…. but we keep reading that they cannot split a couple up – as I find out more I will let you know – but here’s a couple of articles we wrote on it… BTW even in France, each area has different rules! Sorry this is a bit jumbled, trying to steer a boat along the canals! lol
    They are really exciting plans – looking forward to hearing my (BTW – pop over to either of my webs sites to win an audio book of Of Foreign Build, it’ll be great for the journey!) 😉 or


  3. Pingback: Ocean Yachtmaster | Astrolabe Sailing

  4. Pingback: RYA Offshore Yachtmaster | Astrolabe Sailing

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