Online platform for filing the declaration for pleasure boating coming from or leaving for a third country port thus crossing the Schengen external border
Crossing of the external borders of the Schengen Area
The crossing of the external borders of the Schengen Area may be executed only at the official border crossing points (inbound and outbound) and during the official opening hours.
Once they have entered the Schengen area legitimately, after passing the necessary border controls, persons can move freely in the Schengen area for the period allowed to them.
The official Belgian maritime border crossing points are:
- BEANR – Antwerp
- BEBBG – Blankenberge (via Zeebrugge)
- BEGNE – Ghent
- BENIE – Nieuwpoort (via Ostend)
- BEOST – Ostend
- BEZEE - Zeebrugge
Notice to the skipper - Digital submission to the Belgian maritime border control
In 2006, the European Parliament adopted a code on the crossing of the external borders by persons. This Schengen Borders Code has since been revised and resulted in a Union Code (EU 2016/399) in 2016.
The Schengen Borders Code includes specific rules for the various types of border and the various means of transport used for crossing the external borders. Pleasure boating has a special place here, as all pleasure boating coming from or leaving for a third country (outside Schengen) are legally obliged to comply with the reporting formalities for border control.
The Federal Police is responsible for and entrusted with the implementation of border control. More specifically, one of the tasks of the Maritime and River Police (SPN) is to supervise the cross-border traffic at the maritime external borders.
A report form was developed for pleasure boating, which can be filled in through the internet and forwarded to the SPN.
As a consequence, further communication and processing will also take place via electronic means.
The Federal Police website makes it possible to create the declaration form for pleasure boating automatically and in a secure manner and to send it to the competent border control authority (SPN).
Federal Police - Maritime and River Police
Use this form only for questions related to Pleasure Boating.
Below you will find the regulatory framework that imposes the filing of a declaration for pleasure boating.
Notices to Mariners
The Notice to Mariners n° 1 appears annually. It contains all permanent notices that apply to mariners.
The NTM 1 - art. 75 refers to the regulations with regard to pleasure boating and border control.
Regulation (EU) 2016/399 – of the European Parliament and of the Council on a Union Code on the rules governing the movement of persons across borders (Schengen Borders Code) Title II, Chapter I, Article 5, § 1
1. External borders may be crossed only at border crossing points and during the fixed opening hours. The opening hours shall be clearly indicated at border crossing points which are not open 24 hours a day.
Member States shall notify the list of their border crossing points to the Commission in accordance with Article 39.
2. By way of derogation from paragraph 1, exceptions to the obligation to cross external borders only at border crossing points and during fixed opening hours may be allowed:
a) for individuals or groups of persons, where there is a requirement of a special nature for the occasional crossing of external borders outside border crossing points or outside fixed opening hours, provided that they are in possession of the permits required by national law and that there is no conflict with the interests of public policy and the internal security of the Member States. Member States may make specific arrangements in bilateral agreements. General exceptions provided for by national law and bilateral agreements shall be notified to the Commission pursuant to Article 39;
b) for individuals or groups of persons in the event of an unforeseen emergency situation;
c) in accordance with the specific rules set out in Articles 19 and 20 in conjunction with Annexes VI and VII.
3. Without prejudice to the exceptions provided for in paragraph 2 or to their international protection obligations, Member States shall introduce penalties, in accordance with their national law, for the unauthorized crossing of external borders at places other than border crossing points or at times other than the fixed opening hours. Those penalties shall be effective, proportionate and dissuasive.
Regulation (EU) 2016/399 – of the European Parliament and of the Council on a Union Code on the rules governing the movement of persons across borders (Schengen Borders Code) paragraphs 3.2.5 and 3.2.6 of Annex VI
A pleasure boat coming from a third country (outside Schengen) must:
1. a. enter a port which is a border crossing point: Antwerp, Ostend, Zeebrugge, Nieuwpoort, Ghent, Blankenberge, during the opening hours of the border crossing point;
1. b. present itself without delay at the border crossing point of the authority responsible for maritime border control, in particular the Maritime and River Police (see annex for coordinates and opening hours) and hand in a document containing all the technical characteristics and the names of the persons on board, according to the enclosed format (see annex);
1. c. As long as the vessel remains in the territorial waters of one of the Schengen member states, include a certified copy of the document referred to under (b) amongst the ship's papers;
2. The departure of a pleasure boat for a third country (outside Schengen) must be reported to the border crossing point of the Maritime and River Police of the port of departure and the document referred to under 1(b) must be handed over.
3. Pleasure boats coming from a third country can enter a port which is a border crossing point outside the fixed opening hours but only with the express consent of the Maritime and River Police.
The provisions of 1, point b, c and 2 shall apply without prejudice.
By way of derogation from article 1, a pleasure boat coming from a third country may enter a port which is not a border crossing point where there is a requirement of a special nature. In that case, the persons on board shall notify the port authorities in order to be authorized to enter that port.
In the present case, port authorities refer to the harbour master services and by way of sub-delegation the persons in charge of yacht clubs (www.waterrecreatie.be/html/jachthavengigds.php). The port authorities shall contact the nearest border crossing point of the Maritime and River Police in order to report the vessel’s arrival. The declaration regarding persons on board shall be made by lodging the document mentioned under 1 (b) with the port authorities. That document shall be made available to the border crossing point of the Maritime and River Police, at the latest upon arrival.
4. 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 nearest border crossing point of the Maritime and River Police in order to report the vessel's presence. They shall make the document mentioned under 1 (b) available to the Maritime and River Police.
5. Pursuant to Regulation (EU) 2017/458 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 15/03/2017 all persons who (also) wish to embark or disembark from a pleasure boat going to or coming from a third country, must present themselves voluntarily at the border crossing point of the Maritime and River Police. They shall complete the necessary formalities there, during the opening hours mentioned in annex 1, before either continuing their journey in the Schengen area or boarding the pleasure boat in question.
6. Any changes with regard to the persons on board or the technical characteristics of the pleasure boat must be reported to the border crossing point of the Maritime and River Police without delay.
Royal Decree of 20 June 1977 implementing the law of 24 November 1975 approving and implementing the Convention on the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea, 1972, the attached regulations and its annexes - Art. 3
Royal Decree of 4 August 1981 establishing police and shipping regulations for the Belgian territorial sea, the ports and beaches of the Belgian coast - Art. 34§4
All mariners are obliged to:
- Comply with the general principles relating to the regulation of maritime traffic as set out in the annual Notice to Mariners No 1 published every year.
- With regard to the safety of vessels not subject to the Royal Decree of 20 July 1973 laying down the maritime inspection regulations, comply with the measures imposed by officials and public servants.
- With regard to navigation, comply with the notices communicated by the authorities, especially the Notices to Mariners or the Maritime Safety Information.
Penalties for the unauthorised crossing of external borders
Act 15/12/1980 Act on the access to the territory, residence, establishment and removal of foreigners – art. 4bis, art. 75 and art. 80
§ 1. At external borders within the meaning of international agreements on crossing of external borders which are binding on Belgium or European legislation, entry to and exit from the Kingdom must be only at authorized border crossing points and during the fixed opening hours as indicated by such border crossing points.
§ 2. Non-nationals must volunteer travel documents when entering or leaving the Kingdom.
§ 3. A non-national who breaches the obligation mentioned in § 1 may be fined EUR 200 by the Minister or his representative.
If the breach of the obligation set out in § 1 is due to negligence by the carrier, the carrier and the non-national shall be jointly and severally liable for payment of the fine.The decision imposing the administrative fine shall be immediately enforceable, notwithstanding any appeal.
The legal person shall be civilly liable for payment of the administrative fine imposed on its managers, executives, employees or agents.
The administrative fine may be paid by a deposit of the amount owed at the Deposit and Consignment Office.
Subject to article 79, a foreigner who enters or stays illegally in the realm, is punished by a term of imprisonment of eight days to three months and by a fine of twenty-six francs to two hundred francs or by one of these punishments. (NOTE: read euro instead of franc)
If one of the offences referred to in the first and second paragraphs is repeated within the three-year period, these penalties shall be imposed in the form of imprisonment from one month to one year and a fine of one hundred francs, up to one thousand francs, or on any one of these penalties alone. (NOTE: read euro instead of franc)
All provisions of Book I of the Penal Code, including Chapter VII and Article 85, are applicable to the offences provided for in this law.
Law of 08 may 2019 – Law introducing the Belgian Shipping Code - Articles 126.96.36.199, 188.8.131.52 and 184.108.40.206
Art.220.127.116.11 Maritime Border control
The King determines the further rules regarding border control at the maritime external border and its implementation by the members of the Maritime and River Police.
Article 18.104.22.168 Public documents
The documents and administrative forms required by the laws and regulations that apply to and around the water are public documents as referred to in book II, title III, chapter IV of the Criminal Code.
Art. 22.214.171.124. Infringement of Article 126.96.36.199
§ 1. A level 3 sanction is imposed on anyone who commits an offense against decisions taken in application of Article 188.8.131.52.
8 JUNE 1867. – PENAL CODE – Art. 196
The following shall be punishable by imprisonment for a period of five years up to ten years, other persons who commit forgery in public or authentic documents and all persons who commit forgery in commercial or banking documents or in private documents,
- whether by means of false signatures,
- or by counterfeiting or falsification of documents or signatures,
- or by the falsification or retrospective insertion in the certificates of agreements, orders, obligations or debt discharges,
- or by the addition or falsification of stipulations, statements or facts which were intended to incorporate or establish the said documents.