Relax and enjoy your boat (but check your boat papers first or risk hefty fines!).


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Spring is approaching. The weather is beginning to be friendly and all of us sailors are pawing because we can finally fully enjoy the pleasure of sailing. Everything is ready, we can cast off our moorings aboard the newly checked boat: galley is set, sails okay, sunscreen is in the duffel bag. And there at that very moment was the Hamletic question, “What personal and shipboard documents do we need to have on hand?”

No panic, the Anglo-Saxons would say! We asked Giuseppe Macolino, a naval engineer and founding partner of ENAVE- Ente Navale Europeo, (a company that offers evaluation services for safety certificates and CE markings in the recreational boating industry), to take stock and remind ourselves what documents are essential to enjoy our experience at sea to the fullest without the danger of hefty fines.

For navigation in national waters, the documents to be shown in case of inspection by law enforcement agencies are:

  • power declaration of the engine(s), or the certificate of use (if issued before September 15, 2005).
  • certificate of liability insurance.
  • Operating license and limited RTF certificate, if the unit has radio equipment (VHF is required for navigation beyond 6 miles)
  • boat license, if the requirement applies and if the boat is registered
  • sailing license
  • security certificate

As a reminder, a boating license, for sailing beyond 6 miles is always mandatory, regardless of engine power and displacement. For non-CE-marked vessels, for navigation between 6 and 12 miles, a certificate of seaworthiness within 12 miles issued by a Notified Body is required, or a copy of the type approval certificate and declaration of conformity in original showing that the unit is seaworthy beyond 6 miles; or again the R.I.D. (vessel registry entry) extract in original, for units previously registered in the registry and seaworthy beyond 6 miles. All documents, for domestic navigation, may be kept on board in certified copies. Authentication can be performed by a notary public as well as by a registrar.

For sailing in international and foreign waters, the documents are those listed above, but they must be originals since certified copies are not recognized. For watercraft then, it is advisable to have available and be able to show the liability insurance policy containing the name of the unit owner and the bill of sale of the watercraft. In case the vessel was used by a person other than the owner, or if the policy was in the name of another person, an attestation from the owner, or insurance holder, issued to the person using the vessel is sufficient.

If your destination is a non-EU state Prior to departure, it is necessary to go to a Polmar (Maritime Border Police) office to fill out the appropriate form where the boat’s registration data, passenger and crew details, and the details of their valid foreign travel documents are to be entered. The port and date of departure and the port of destination must be indicated. The Polmar stamps the document for exit in compliance with border police regulations regarding expatriation. It is advisable then to report the return to Italy.

For destinations to foreign countries, it is also advisable to apply for a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) from your local health authority. This card allows the use of health benefits previously covered by E110, E111, E119 and E128. However, there are places abroad where the EHIC card is not yet customary, and it is useful to have the E111 form with you; however, it remains a good idea to check with your local health authority before leaving.

For non-EU countries, additional documents are sometimes required beyond what is required by Italian regulations so we recommend, to inquire at the Consulate in Italy of the foreign state of destination and obtain more accurate and up-to-date information regarding entry, transit, stay and exit from the territorial waters of the host country.

All clear? Now you can set sail with a clear conscience!



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