I'm going to rent a sail boat in Poland this summer to go to Sweden (Gotland island) and back to Poland. I and all crew have Schengen visas. Both of these countries are in the Schengen area.

Is it necessary to go through customs and ports of entry? Should we notify any organizations? Or we can move free and easy?

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    Will you be entering international waters?
    – phoog
    Commented May 30, 2016 at 14:37
  • @phoog, if you are talking about IW according to the wikipedia, then NO. Baltic sea is not so wide :) But we will leave territorial waters and contiguous zone. Commented May 30, 2016 at 15:27
  • International waters cover the area beyond the territorial waters. So if you leave the territorial waters, you enter International waters.
    – jcaron
    Commented May 30, 2016 at 15:55
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    @phoog It is irrelevant if you have been in international waters, as the Schengen countries' sea borders are generally considered external borders (Regulation (EC) No 562/2006, Article 2). There are exceptions for sea ports serving regular ferry traffic, but on a private native vessel, you are at least in theory subject to immigration control even when travelling directly between two Schengen countries. The practical implementation of the immigration control is very different from country to country and I cannot find any current information about the situation in Sweden. Commented May 30, 2016 at 16:11
  • @jcaron, may be there is any definition problem, but from wikipedia: International waters can be contrasted with internal waters, territorial waters and exclusive economic zones. We will not leave the exclusive economic zone (200 nm). Commented May 30, 2016 at 16:11

1 Answer 1


The Schengen Borders code contains several relevant dispositions. First, article 4 provides that


  1. By way of derogation from paragraph 1, exceptions to the obligation to cross external borders only at border crossing points and during the fixed opening hours may be allowed:

    (a) in connection with pleasure boating or coastal fishing;


Annex VI provides some details on how this is supposed to work in practice.

Pleasure boating

3.2.5. By way of derogation from Articles 4 and 7, persons on board a pleasure boat coming from or departing to a port situated in a Member State shall not be subject to border checks and may enter a port which is not a border crossing point.

However, according to the assessment of the risks of illegal immigration, and in particular where the coastline of a third country is located in the immediate vicinity of the territory of the Member State concerned, checks on those persons and/or a physical search of the pleasure boat shall be carried out.

3.2.6. By way of derogation from Article 4, a pleasure boat coming from a third country may, exceptionally, enter a port which is not a border crossing point. In that case, the persons on board shall notify the port authorities in order to be authorised to enter that port. The port authorities shall contact the authorities in the nearest port designated as a border crossing point in order to report the vessel's arrival. The declaration regarding passengers shall be made by lodging the list of persons on board with the port authorities. That list shall be made available to the border guards, at the latest upon arrival.

Likewise, if for reasons of force majeure the pleasure boat coming from a third country has to dock in a port other than a border crossing point, the port authorities shall contact the authorities in the nearest port designated as a border crossing point in order to report the vessel's presence.

3.2.7. During those checks, a document containing all the technical characteristics of the vessel and the names of the persons on board shall be handed in. A copy of that document shall be given to the authorities in the ports of entry and departure. As long as the vessel remains in the territorial waters of one of the Member States, a copy of that document shall be included amongst the ship's papers.

I have no first-hand experience with this and I am not a legal profesional so you should take all this with a grain of salt but my reading of these rules is that, unless you have called at a port outside of the Schengen area ("coming from a third country"), you don't have to do anything. But the Swedish authorities could still invoke the second paragraph to perform a border check anyway so be ready to provide all necessary info if required.

noonsite.com also provides a lot of information and in particular:

Yachts arriving from a Schengen country (i.e. all countries bordering the Baltic Sea with the exception of Russia) do not have to notify Customs on arrival in Sweden if there is nothing to declare […]

The Swedish Coastguard recommends that vessels, even though it is no longer strictly required, continue to submit details of crew and passengers in advance.

The same website also provides contact details for coast guard offices if you prefer to contact them directly to get official confirmation that you are indeed allowed to enter Sweden without formalities.

  • 1
    Note that the version of the Borders Code you link to (regulation 2006/562) was repealed and replaced by a rewritten one (regulation 2016/399) a few months ago. There doesn't seem to be any substantial change relevant to this question, though. Commented May 31, 2016 at 12:12
  • @HenningMakholm It's less than a few months ago but I did notice it. I do not seem to be able to link to its contents on the eur-lex website however (only a PDF), which is why I reused an old link.
    – Relaxed
    Commented May 31, 2016 at 12:33
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    In my experience you will be required to talk to customs/border control when leaving Poland and the Baltic states. The company where you rent the boat will most likely be willing to explain the local procedures (sometimes you'll have to move to a special berth, sometimes they come to the boat). In Sweden it will be hard to find any customs or border control in the small ports/harbors along the coast of Gotland. Usually there is a note saying that if you have to declare anything you'll have to call a phone number at weekdays and let customs know. Commented Nov 13, 2018 at 19:20

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