Depending on where you plan to look for your first job in yachting and your nationality, you may need to look into what travel visas are required for you to legally enter countries and work onboard. The Seaworthy Stew talks us through all of the current visa requirements…
So, What visas do I need to work on a yacht?
B1/B2 Visa – Caribbean and US Season
This is a multi-entry travel visa for yacht crew to work onboard superyachts cruising the US. For the Caribbean yachting season, most yachts cruise in US waters so if you’re not a US Citizen you’ll most likely need a B1/B2 visa. This visa is notoriously hard for greener crew to obtain without boat papers, for more information on how to obtain this visa check out my blog article The B1/B2 Visa To Work on Boats In The US & Caribbean, or for more information check the US Embassy website.
Schengen Visa – Mediterranean Season
Schengen refers to the EU passport-free zone that covers most European countries. According to Schengen Visa Info, the Schengen visa is a short-stay visa that allows a person to freely travel to any country in the Schengen Area, stays can be up to 90 days for tourism or business purposes.
There are three classifications for crew using the Schengen visa;
- Short stay
- Long stay
As a green crew member, you will usually enter on this visa for travel purposes allowing you 90 days within the EU. Some advice here: do not mention anything about work to the embassy, I would also recommend having proof of funds to support your stay and a flight or train out of the EU region, or at least a ‘plan’ to leave the EU after 90 days, this is in case of the embassy questioning you upon entry.
For specific information on your nationality, I recommend having a look at the Schengen Info Website. Here are some links for US Citizens, South Africans, British and the new rules for Australians and New Zealand citizens starting January 1, 2023, where they can apply for a visa waiver prior to their travel to Europe.
According to The European Commission website, from November 2023, visitors that do not need a visa to enter Europe will be able to register with European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS). ETIAS will become a mandatory entry requirement.
Once the EU ETIAS travel authorization becomes operational, all citizens from the current visa-free countries will be required to submit an application before their trip. However, for the time being, they can continue to travel to Europe using the Schengen system without applying online for travel authorization. As always please do some research into this on an official government website as information can change according to different nationalities.
Australian Superyacht Crew Visa
According to the Australian Government, to be eligible for a Superyacht Crew visa, you must have one of several things. This can be a contract to work, a letter from the owner of the superyacht confirming employment, or a supporter or a sponsor, depending on your circumstances. You can gain a 3, 6 or 12-month visa for crew and you must meet certain requirements, for more details on this check out this Superyacht Australia article and current pricing for the visa on the Australian Government website.
Seaman’s Discharge Book
Once you are employed on a yacht you may apply for a Seaman’s Discharge Book from the flag state of the vessel. This may be useful for tax purposes and in certain circumstances, it may even act as a passport if you do not have the necessary visa for a certain area. Usually, the boat will be able to help you with your application and will sign off on the documentation.
Places that do not require travel visas to work on yachts
The UAE, Maldives, Seychelles and most of the South Pacific are destinations that DO NOT require yacht crew to have specific types of travel visas to join. So there is the potential to land a job at the end of the Med season on a yacht that is destined for these places in the winter period. I recommend getting to a med yachting destination by September if you’re planning to jump on the tail end of the Med season to snap up one of these job opportunities.
By the end of October, Antibes can be a ghost town with few yachts in sight – not so good for job-hunting prospects.
Now is also a good time to upskill and perfect that yachting CV because… let’s be real it’s fierce out there!
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