EDIT: Thank you to everyone who replied to my post. She has now sorted this out. It has been confirmed by someone who has been on board and knows the ropes that she will be stamped out before the ship leaves the port. This makes sense but she couldn't find someone to confirm it.

She did contact the person who deals with her contracts but that person wasn't very helpful.

Scenario – British national with British passport. Contract to work on cruise ship starts in January. Already has Seaman's Book. Joining the ship entails flight from UK to Germany, straight onto next flight to Italy. Then out the airport straight onto the cruise ship.

We think passing through Germany for connecting flight counts as ‘in transit’ so passport will not be stamped in - and mustn’t be because how will it get stamped out? When she returned from Japan via Germany she was never asked for her passport. Arriving in Italy – this is the problem bit – will the passport be stamped ‘in’ on arrival? If it is it won’t get stamped ‘out’ until 183 days later when she returns home – exceeding the time allowed in Schengen area.

Does presentation of the Seaman's Book mean the passport will not be stamped on arrival in Italy? Or is the passport stamped ‘in’ and stamped ‘out’ in the airport in one go.

I have spent some considerable time – over a week – searching internet for help: it keeps presenting cruise ship passenger scenarios, which is nothing like being crew. Today I had a light bulb moment and thought of Seaman's Book, and ended up on this site.

Every visa we have researched doesn’t help. I think the scenario I present is unusual to the cruise line – not that many UK people work on board. When she was offered the new contract I don’t think her being a UK national in the Schengen area occurred to them in terms of being careful about limiting days in the area.

The scenario is new to us as her previous contracts have all been out of the US or around the UK. I apologise for the length of my post. Thank you for reading this far.

  • 1
    I have no idea, but you’d expect that this scenario isn’t all that unusual. The most logical thing would be for her to get stamped out when boarding the ship.
    – deceze
    Commented Dec 7, 2023 at 23:23
  • 3
    If she is stamped in it will be at the first Schengen area airport, so Gérmany. The flight to Italy will be domestic for the Schengen area.
    – Willeke
    Commented Dec 8, 2023 at 5:20
  • 6
    Germany to Italy is a domestic flight AFAIK, Immigration control takes place on entering the Schengen area, which in the scenario you describe is Germany. Stamping on exit / re-entry should be done by a Port's Immigration Officer pya.org/news/…
    – Traveller
    Commented Dec 8, 2023 at 5:22
  • 2
    While on the ship, there are special rules for crew members in the Schengen Border Code (mainly ANNEX VI 3.2.3 ; crew members will not be stamped since they are listed in the crew list). Joining (or leaving) the ship the normal rules would apply (with entry/exit stamps). Once on bord, the crew members will be listed in the crew list meantioned in 3.1.2 of ANNEX VI and should recieve an exit stamp when bording. Only the days with the stamps would then count. Commented Dec 8, 2023 at 6:35
  • 2
    Has "she" contacted the cruise ship operator? I'm sure "she" isn't the first person in their history to have encountered this scenario and I'm sure they have someone on staff who will know the answer.
    – FreeMan
    Commented Dec 8, 2023 at 15:55

2 Answers 2


When getting off the first flight, UK to Germany, she will enter Schengen: the next flight is a domestic flight, as far as Schengen is concerned, and she will have to cross the border, and passport control, to go to her next flight. There won't be any possibility of airside transfer.

Actually in an airport like Frankfurt, where I've done non-Schengen to Schengen, and back, the transfer is airside: but you need to pass through passport control to go from one zone to the other.

Whether the Immigration officer in Germany will stamp the passport, when seeing the Seaman's Book, is unclear. The Seaman's Book can be, in some cases, used in lieu of a passport. But I wasn't able to find which cases.

However, boarding a ship leaving the country requires to pass through Immigration – at least in countries that have exit checks, and Schengen countries have them. You can't just walk on a ship and wave bye-bye. So she will have to pass through Immigration again in Italy, stamping her out of Schengen. Problem solved.


I am a retired UK Border Force officer. I retired some years ago and so the rules may have changed. However when I was still working, a seaman’s book could be used as a travel document (instead of a passport) for seamen joining or leaving ships. So they had to be going on or off duty for it to be a valid travel document.

It has various purposes but the main benefit is that it usually offers visa free entry or exit for nationals who might otherwise need a visa. For example, a Filipino seaman travelling on a passport with the purpose of joining a ship in a certain country would frequently need a "to join ship" visa, whereas travelling on their seaman’s book they would not. (This arrangement is underpinned by an international agreement). Saves a lot of time and money on visa fees and gives the shipping companies operational flexibility if they need to swap crews around from ship to ship or country to country at short notice.

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