Guidelines for being stamped in and out of the Schengen area for visa holders

There's a lot of misinformation and confusion amongst yacht crew who hold Schengen visas when it comes to being stamped in and out of the Schengen area when starting and finishing their employment onboard a vessel.

Unfortunately, far too many yacht crew are still taking their questions to yacht crew Facebook groups with the hope of finding answers. Whilst advice from fellow yacht crew might provide some general guidance, we would highly discourage members from relying on this information as visa advice is tailored to each individual's passport, visa and circumstances. In addition, visa regulations are constantly being updated by authorities, so it's important to get advice which is current and in line with the latest information.

By relying on advice from unqualified sources, you might end up breaking the rules of your visa which could prevent you from being granted future Schengen visas and, subsequently, jeopardise your career in yachting.

We interviewed immigration officials at the Cannes and Nice Ports in France on 3 October 2019, which are two ports in the French Riviera which have immigration offices. They have provided the following guidance for yacht crew with Schengen Visas:

  • Stamped out - To be stamped out of the Schengen area, the crew member should visit the immigration office at Le Vieux Port Cannes or Nice Port with a valid passport and Schengen Visa.

  • Stamped in - Once a crew member has returned from their time at sea, they can visit the immigration office with a valid passport and visa to be stamped back into the Schengen area, provided they still have available days left on their visa.

    Please note: The crew member needs to be present in order for their passport to be stamped. Also, the type of Schengen visa a crew member holds might affect their ability to be stamped back in and out multiple times, so we advise crew to check if this possible in advance.

  • Documents required - Only a valid passport and Schengen visa. However, be prepared to show additional documentation to prove your employment, such as an Employment Agreement and/or the Crew List, a Seafarer’s Identity Document, the Yacht’s Certificate of Registry and/or a return ticket back to your home country. 

  • The flag under which the boat is registered - This does not affect the immigration requirements and crew can still be stamped in and out of the Schengen area when working on a boat which is registered in a Schengen country.

The PYA does not currently provide tailored visa advice, however, we've put together some basic guidelines you should follow:

  • Most of the Schengen countries are in the European Union, BUT some are not. It's important not to confuse the Schengen Area with the EU.

  • Yacht crew can be stamped out of the Schengen area by a Port's Immigration Officer with an official immigration stamp in their passport.

  • Due to the fact that a crew member is officially on a vessel and out of Schengen territory, the number of days that they're allowed in the Schengen area on their visa should not be affected and they should be able to pick up where they left off when being stamped back in by immigration officials.
    Please note - this is usually only allowed if your visa grants you multiple entries and should be confirmed by an official source.

  • Many Schengen authorities are very strict on stamping crew back into a Schengen country once they've completed their employment on board a vessel and will only do so if the crew member has a repatriation ticket back to their home country.

  • Do not rely on your Captain, management company or the vessel's owners to solve your visa issues. Make sure you know the rights and the regulations of your visa without your employer's assistance.

  • Never ever overstay the number of days allowed on land on your visa.

  • Never overstay your visa expiry date without being stamped out the Schengen area.

  • If you are looking to leave your vessel via a Schengen airport after overstaying your original visa, you will usually need to apply for a transit visa which can usually be issued by an agent at the port of disembarkation.

  • If MLC 2006 applies to your Seafarers Employment Agreement, the cost of this visa and agent should be covered by your vessel.

Important - The type of visa and passport you hold might affect the guidelines provided above. We advise all crew to discuss their situation with the port's immigration officials or a verified visa agent.

We recommend our members search online for a verified visa agent or speak directly with their local Immigration Officials.

Here's a list of useful resources you can also refer to, although be mindful some of this content might be out of date:

Please note: The information provided in this article is believed to be correct at the time of publishing (07.10.2019) and has been verified to be the best of the PYA's ability, however, cannot be guaranteed.