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Checking in

Checking In to a Foreign Port

In the course of our cruising travels, we have had the good fortune to have checked in to many countries. Some officials were absolutely charming, and immediately set the tone to our visit to their nation. Others proved a mite more challenging; not that we ever encountered a customs or immigration official who was anything other than friendly and welcoming. In these cases, the biggest problem was that the Master of our vessel, that would be me, had to scurry hither and yon from one office to the next, covering quite a distance in the process. All the while, our crew, and that would be my wife, was confined to the boat per international regulations – until I returned and we could take down our Q flag. With our vessel no longer in Quarantine everyone was allowed to come and go, as we had officially entered the country.

Sailing around Europe on the other hand was much less complicated, once that is, we had imported our previously US flagged boat. The formalities were just that. It usually took mere minutes on a dedicated PC in a café to check in, or the marina manager would do the task for us. No fuss, no bother, but alas, no smiling officials to welcome us.

This is all now possibly about to change. If the UK decides to leave the EU, then we will have to go through all this rigmarole all over again. Our boat is now Irish flagged, so every time we sail across the Irish Sea we will have to go through customs and immigration. We will need to learn where the UK ports of entry are as we may not land elsewhere first. Conversely British flagged vessels sailing to Ireland, or any other EU country for that matter, will need to check in any time they enter. Fortunately for UK visitors to Ireland, there are indeed a number of ports of entry they can choose from (see sidebar). However, and this is something we had to deal with when we first came to Ireland (on our American boat), the customs and immigration officials may not always be on location. They may not even have regular office hours, and their offices may not even be in or near the actual port of entry. A non-EU registered vessel sailing to Ireland is thus advised to check with the authorities prior to arriving and to make advance arrangements to enter the State. Here is the needed information:

·         Garda National Immigration Bureau handles immigration:

·         Customs is now handled regionally making it hard to locate the offices:

Irish Ports of entry

Baltimore, Bantry Bay, Carlingford Lough, Cork Harbour (Crosshaven and Cobh), Dublin, Dun Laoghaire, Galway, Kinsale, Limerick (Shannon Estuary), Sligo, Tralee, Waterford, Westport, Wexford, Wicklow

There is one other ‘minor’ detail that concerns us greatly. Within the EU one may, to a great extent, purchase goods in one country and transport them to another without incurring customs and excise costs. This includes, within generous limits, alcoholic beverages. For example, if I sail to France, I may bring up to 90 litres of wine home to Ireland, as presumably any UK citizen is also allowed to do. If the UK leaves the EU, that will all change – at least for UK citizens. The allowance then drops to a mere 4 litres per person with a commensurate reduction in spirits, etc. For us this means that if we do sail to France or Spain to stock up, we would no longer be able to stop in the UK on the way home – one less boatload of Irish tourists.


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