Brexit Update: British Yacht Crew In France

Jan 8, 2021 | News, Port Vauban

Four years ago, the UK voted to leave the European Union and since then there has been conflicting information concerning travel and immigration regulations for British yacht crew in France, as well as VAT on yachts post-Brexit.

On 31 December 2020, the French government activated Decree no. 2020-1417 (19 November 2020) highlighting the rights and responsibilities for British citizens who were already resident in France or intending to be resident in France from this date.   Britons already resident in France before 31 December 2020 do not have to get their passports stamped in or out as they are covered by the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement.

However, for yacht crew who hold a British passport and are not French residents there are considerations.

British Yacht Crew travelling between the UK and France

An extension bulletin has detailed that seafarers are exempt from restrictions.  For travel from the UK to France, it is recommended that yacht crew carry the following documentation:

  • Passport
  • Seaman’s Book, or official documentation as proof of employment on board a yacht (contract of employment, signed/stamped crew list etc)
  • Travel letters in support (in English and French)
  • A negative PCR test taken within 72 hours of travelling

PCR Tests for Yacht Crew

You can be denied passenger boarding for your flight if you can’t provide verification of a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours of travelling.  Don’t attempt to travel without an up-to-date test.

Crew Travel Letters

It is recommend that all crew have travel letters for their journey in English and French. BWA Yachting can provide this documentation for you, which crew have found useful for check-in procedures, boarding and clearing through passport control.  Contact them via

Brexit:  Stamping in and out procedure for yacht crew

Since Brexit is now in effect, British crew (who are not French residents) needing to fly out of France will need to stamp IN prior to travelling.

As well, crew will now need to stamp OUT when joining a yacht in order to ‘freeze’ the number of days they are permitted to be in the Schengen Zone; currently 90 days of stay within any 180-day period.  Additionally, please note the rules when a third country national (non EU/EEA) is stamped OUT:

  • Travel for crew that are stamped out is only tolerated for the city directly touching the port where their yacht is moored.
  • The crew member must present themselves in person at the port customs office (not possible to stamp directly at the airport).  The documents that need to be provided (minimum 48 hours in advance) to organise a stamp IN or OUT are:
  • Passport
  • Last passport page stamp
  • Seaman’s Book or your crew employment contract
  • Yacht Registry papers
  • Crew list dated and signed by the Captain
  • Flight ticket
  • Travel letters in support (in English and French; contact BWA Yachting for help with this)
  • Negative PCR test results (taken within 48 hours)

Port Customs Offices near Antibes

A reminder of where to go for the stamping.

Douanes (Custom’s office)
(Go to the Ferry port opposite the Radisson Blu 1835 Hotel)
Port de Cannes
Hours: Monday – Friday 10.00 – 12.00h
Tel: +33 09 70 27 8848
Nice Port – (NOT the airport)
Douanes (Custom’s office)
Port de Nice Lympia
4, Quai de la Douane, 1st Floor Left.
Hours; Monday – Friday 09.30-10.30h – closed on public holidays.
Tel: +33 06 64 56 7210 / +33 06 64 56 7214 /+33 09 70 27 8784

What is the Schengen Area?

The Schengen Area is a zone that consists of 26 neighbouring countries which have abolished passport and all other types of border controls at mutual borders. There are effectively no hard borders between the participating countries, only a singular, shared border.

The Schengen Agreement was signed in 1985 by ten European countries and a further 16 countries have joined since then. The Schengen Area and the European Union (EU) are two separate entities. Not all Schengen members are in the EU and not all EU members are in the Schengen Area.

These countries are: Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland.

Note:  I am trying to verify that Gibraltar is also considered part of the Schengen since 1st January 2021, to be advised.

PYA Webinar:  Brexit Regulations for Yacht Crew

The PYA is hosting a webinar on the latest ‘Brexit Regulations for Yacht Crew’.   It will take place on Tuesday 12th January at 2pm CET.
Speakers include:
  • Antonella Della Pietra – BWA Spain
  • Richard Falk – RYA
  • Mark Ravnholt – Catalano Shipping
  • Stamping IN and OUT at EU ports
  • Required travel documentation
  • Regulations for UK citizens and crew in the EU
  • Focus on the latest regulations in France, Monaco, Italy and Spain
  • COVID regulations affecting travel for UK citizens
  • Acceptance of UK Certificates (RYA)






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