Brexit Advice for UK Yacht Crew

As of the 1st January 2021, the United Kingdom withdrew from the European Union (EU) leaving British yacht crew to adjust to life outside of the EU.

Here, we look into the implications for UK yacht crew as they navigate new employment laws for working on a yacht as a non-EU crew member. Read on for our current Brexit advice and to learn more about post-Brexit work visas for UK crew.

What are the changes since Brexit? Advice for Yacht Crew

No longer part of the European Union, British crew will now be treated in the same way as their Australian, New Zealand and American counterparts. This means entering the EU without the need of a Brexit work visa, but only for up to 90 days within a rolling 180-day period.  

The most significant change is that British crew will now get their passports stamped on arrival in any EU country, starting the clock on their 90-day limit within the EU or Schengen Zone. The countdown is stopped when leaving an EU port on a boat with the time spent on a crew list not counting towards the 90-day limit. They will then be stamped back into the EU when disembarking the yacht.

Once crew are stamped onto a boat and out of the EU, most countries allow them to travel within 10km of their vessel. Any crew wishing to travel beyond that will have to stamp into the EU beforehand. All UK passports will need a minimum of six months validity for travel. 

A developing situation

This is, of course, still a developing situation, and there have been some differences in how local immigration offices are handling it. Note that yacht captains are well versed in immigration matters and are sure to keep abreast of the latest Brexit advice.

One grey area concerns non-EU crew who were already on a vessel without a stamp before 1st January 2021. Some port authorities are agreeing to stamp them out of the EU despite not having been stamped in, while others are refusing to do so. This risks crew leaving the Schengen Zone later on in the year, unable to prove that they haven’t exceeded their 90-day limit.

We are sure that more Brexit advice will become available from the authorities and crew agencies as the year progresses.

Further Changes for Brexit Work Visas

Further changes are to come, however. The latest Brexit advice from the EU Commission is that, from 2022, in order to cross an external Schengen Area border, UK citizens will need to apply for a European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS) visa waiver.  

ETIAS is an electronic system that will keep track of visitors from countries who do not need a visa or a Brexit work visa to enter the Schengen Zone, and resembles ESTA, the American  Electronic System for Travel Authorization.

The registration process will be fully online, and an approved ETIAS authorisation will be valid for three years, or until the passport expires.

There is no need for anyone to lose heart, and further Brexit advice will be forthcoming as the year progresses. British crew are still free to work on yachts throughout Europe; they will just have to get used to navigating the same rules as their Australian, Kiwi and American co-workers. Remember, yacht captains are experts at managing multiple immigration requirements for crew from across the globe and will always ensure that their crew is fully compliant. 


Discover more articles for finding and working overseas in our yacht crew advice section.