Cruising to France

Cruising to France this year?
Some mandatory requirements for your trip. 

Bound for France? Customs officials are very keen to practice their skills, as many bertholders will attest.

If you are bound for France this summer then there are a number of formalities that you need to satisfy in order to keep the French Customs happy.

Remember that applications for some documents can take several weeks to process, so apply in good time to receive them before departure from the UK. Saying “its in the post” will cut no ice with the French Customs!!
Failure to produce the correct documentation means on the spot fines of 150 Euro; if you don’t have the cash in Euros then passports or vessel may be confiscated.

If you are going to a French Coastal Port, you need valid:

  • Passports for each crew member on board
  • ORIGINAL Part 1 registration certificate or SSR certificate
  • Boat Name (and Port for part 1 registrations) permanently displayed on vessel
    SSR number permanently displayed on vessel
  • International Certificate of Competence (not a legal requirement but may be requested)
  • Insurance Policy and ORIGINAL certificate (not a copy), valid for cruising area
  • Ships papers, including bill of sale and proof of VAT payment or exemption
  • Ships VHF radio licence
  • VHF Operators Certificate of Competence. (If you have GMDSS then a Short Range Certificate)
  • You should fly a RED ensign between 08.00 – 21.00 when in port. Blue ensigns may be misunderstood and any person flying any British ensign other than an undefaced Red Ensign must hold a permit from the authorised yacht club. EU flags flown as ensigns are illegal.
  • A French courtesy flag should be flown when in a French port and up to 12 miles offshore.

Important Information from the RYA in relation to the links below:

Equipment for UK Pleasure Vessels.

Latest French Equipment for Pleasure Vessels

All boating members going to France should read and check both links to be sure their vessels are up-to-date with the equipment recommendations made by the RYA.

If you have non-EU passport holders aboard then it is the skipper’s responsibility to ensure they obtain permission to land. If you are arriving at a French port direct from a non-EU port, eg. Channel Islands, then you should fly the Q flag at the 12 mile limit and contact customs on arrival. In addition it is wise to take an in date European Health Insurance card (old form E111) or other form of medical insurance.

If you are planning to cruise French Inland Waterways, you need 

All the above, plus

  • International Certificate of Competence (legal requirement) valid for Inland Waterways. This means that the CEVNI test must have been passed.
  • A copy of the CEVNI rules must be carried on board. The “RYA book of Euroregs for the Inland Waterways” is acceptable and can be obtained from the RYA.
  • Boat licences are required on the Seine upstream of Rouen and most French inland waterways. Licences must be displayed on starboard side forward.

It is forbidden to discharge toilets in canals and rivers, so holding tanks should be installed.

Much of the above information has been distilled from the RYA publication “Foreign Cruising Vol1”. Whilst the information is valid for most vessels at Cobbs Quay, there are certain variations depending on vessel type and length, and area to be visited. It is recommended that every skipper obtains a copy of the publication, to ensure all requirements are satisfied.
The RYA website contains much information and frequently asked questions (FAQ’s) can be found .

Have a safe and uneventful summer cruise to France!