As the captain of a professional or recreational vessel, you (and other persons on board) will be subjected to border surveillance controls. You are obliged to report your crew, passengers and stowaways prior to departure. When ships enter or leave the Netherlands, the Royal Netherlands Marechaussee and the Seaport Police will check the details of your crew members and passengers.
The Netherlands complies with the Schengen Borders Code (see below) at the external borders of the Schengen area. This Schengen Borders Code includes a notification requirement for both commercial and recreational shipping. This requirement applies each time you cross the external border, except when you are transiting Dutch territorial waters without putting into a Dutch port.
Notification prior to arrival
As the captain, you are responsible for providing a crew manifest and a passenger manifest, and for reporting any stowaways upon arrival in a port. These manifests must include at least the information included in form 5 (crew manifest) and form 6 (passenger manifest) from the Convention on facilitating international traffic at sea.
Notification must be done:
- At latest 24 hours prior to arrival in port.
- Or, if the journey time is less than 24 hours: no later than the moment your ship leaves the previous port.
- Or, if the port of call is still unknown or changes during the journey: as soon as this information is known.
Notification prior to departure
As the captain, you are responsible for the timely notification of departure. Border control will be conducted once time of departure is known.
The following applies (in accordance with the Voorschrift Vreemdelingen 2000, in Dutch):
- A minimum of 3 hours prior to the moment the ship crosses the external border of the Schengen area.
- A maximum of 3 days prior to the moment the ship crosses the external border of the Schengen area.
Exceptions are unforeseen and exceptional circumstances or when the ship is less than 3 hours from a border crossing point. In that case, notification must be done as soon as possible, so that an officer from the border crossing point can conduct an identity check.
How do I register my crew and passengers?
Are you the captain of a:
- recreational ship of less than 45 metres in length?
- fishing boat of less than 45 metres in length?
- traditional ship of less than 45 metres in length?
- Seaport Police (for the Port of Rotterdam): firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Royal Netherlands Marechaussee (for the other ports): email@example.com.
If your ship is not one of the above-mentioned types, you must register your passenger and crew details via Single Window for Maritime and Aviation. Single Window uses the Trade and Transport Gateway (HTG). With HTG electronic messages are exchanged.
You can register your information for Customs, Royal Netherlands Marechaussee/Seaport Police digitally via Single Window. You only need to do this once. The port authority will make sure that your report is passed on to the National Competent Authority SafeSeaNet via Single Window. The various government organisations will subsequently all receive your report.
The Royal Netherlands Marechaussee and the Seaport Police also use the Advanced Passenger Information System-3 (API-3). Information entered in Single Window will automatically be stored here. The data in the API-3 is compared to search lists and risk profiles.
Registering crew members or passengers with visa requirement
Crew members or passengers who require a visa must be registered:
- Use the Application for Schengen Visa form (in Dutch, English, Turkish, English/Chinese, English/Russian or French/Arabic).
- In many countries you can apply for a visa at the Dutch Embassy or the Dutch Consulate. Check the list of embassies in alphabetical order.
Additional rules for recreational shipping
In addition to the above-mentioned notification requirement, a number of specific rules apply to recreational shipping.
Within the Schengen area
Recreational ships coming from or going to another Schengen country do not need to sail via a border crossing point. There is no border control unless there is a specific reason for it.
Outside the Schengen area
Recreational ships coming from or going to a non-Schengen country must first sail via a border crossing point, where border control will be conducted. Timely notification can prevent unnecessary delay.
It may be the case that it is not possible to sail via a border control point, for instance in the event of a breakdown, emergency medical assistance or extreme weather conditions. In these situations, you can enter a port that is not a border crossing point. In that case, you must inform the port authority of your journey and situation, and you need to show them a crew manifest and a passenger manifest. You must then ask the port authority to report your presence to the border authorities at the nearest border crossing point. The Royal Netherlandse Marechaussee will arrive to conduct a border check. During this check, the captain must hand over the passenger and crew manifests to the border guards.
Dutch border crossing points
A list of the Dutch border crossing points can be found in annex 4 of the Voorschrift Vreemdelingen 2000 (in Dutch).
The public authorities, port authorities, shipowners and captains will collaborate as much as possible to prevent stowaways from coming on board. Should this occur nonetheless, they will work together to find a solution to return or repatriate the stowaway. The aim is to prevent a situation where stowaways have to stay on board for a prolonged period.
The captain will determine the identity, nationality/citizenship and in which port the stowaway came on board. He will then pass all information on to the border authorities as soon as possible.
Schengen Borders Code
At the external borders of the Schengen Area, the Netherlands, as a Schengen country, complies with the Schengen Borders Code (SGC): regulation (EU) 2016/399. This includes maritime border control.
Border control at the external borders is important for all Schengen countries that have abolished border controls at internal borders. Border control should help in combating illegal immigration and human trafficking. It should also prevent threats to national security, public order, public health and international relations of the Schengen countries.
For maritime border control, ships are inspected in the port of arrival, on departure, in the vicinity of the ship or on board the ship in territorial waters (annex VI, 3.1.1. of the SGC). Inspection on board in territorial waters is included in the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.