If I am on a cargo ship that docks in a foreign country, like Brazil for example, but I do not come ashore and do not intend to come ashore will customs still board and demand passports and visas for all passengers and crew?

I am assuming the ship is refueling or is only stopping temporarily at the port.

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    Are you crew? or a paying passenger? – Peter M Sep 1 '16 at 19:27
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    And what nationality? – Peter M Sep 1 '16 at 19:33
  • This is for a paying passenger. My nationality does not matter. I am asking whether the customs/immigration people will come aboard demand documents on me from the captain, even if I do not disembark. – Lemuel Gulliver Sep 1 '16 at 19:42
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    Crew are generally covered by their crew documents, in place of a passport, and often have different rules about whether they require a visa. These rules would not apply to passengers on a freighter. Passengers on cruise ships often enjoy relaxed documentation requirements, but these generally apply only to cruise ships, and sometimes only if the cruise begins and ends in the same port. – phoog Sep 1 '16 at 22:03
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    As I understand it, the question is about passengers. I suggest deleting all references to "crew" because they have their own rules that can be very different from passengers. – Patricia Shanahan Sep 2 '16 at 6:50

As a rule (but not an ironclad one), no, you will not require a visa if you stay on board. Immigration takes place only on disembarkation.

Procedures do vary from country to country though, and some countries such as Australia do require being in possession of a valid visa in order to enter their territorial waters, even in transit.

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    Though see @Dorothy's comment above: while immigration controls generally take place when you leave the vessel, there can be exceptions. Certainly, if a passenger is wanted by the authorities of that country, there will be little hope of evading capture by electing to remain aboard while the ship calls at port. – phoog Sep 1 '16 at 23:14
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    @phoog Clarified. And yes, you're still in the country's jurisdiction, even if you haven't gone through immigration. See also: travel.stackexchange.com/q/18561/1893 – lambshaanxy Sep 2 '16 at 5:45
  • Per your own question travel.stackexchange.com/questions/53090/… – Gayot Fow Sep 2 '16 at 14:00

For the crew of a ship, the seaman's book can replace visa in certain circumstances. It requires nations which have ratified the relevant conventions, and it applies to merchant crew who travel with their ship to a port or towards their ship waiting in a foreign port.

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    @pnuts, the title of the question mentions both passengers and crew. This is a Q&A site with an archive, so I answered for other readers. – o.m. Sep 2 '16 at 6:33

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