CA 180-Day Visa Campaign

The CA has launched its campaign to reduce the existential impact of Brexit on British small boat cruisers wanting to voyage extensively in European waters, including inland waterways.

The 90-day issue – The Schengen area rules

British citizens are no longer EU nationals. We are now subject to third country rules and, for the cruising boat owner, this poses a real problem.

Under the 90/180 rule , visits to the Schengen area are limited to a maximum total of 90 days in every 180 days. The clock starts ticking for both 90 and 180 days as soon as we first cross the Schengen border.

An example

If you travel out to your boat on May 1 you can use it for up to 90 days – until July 30. You must then leave ALL the countries in the Schengen zone and you can’t return until 180 days from May 1 i.e.: October 28. This effectively rules out extended cruising within Schengen.

As a result, some members have indicated they will move their boats back to the UK, whilst others will relocate boats out of the Schengen area. There are also those who may accept they are restricted to shorter voyages that can be safely completed in less than 90 days.

The CA’s campaign

We and other groups, such as second home owners, professional musicians, academics, etc. have tried to engage with MPs and Ministers on this issue but there has been little will to address the 90/180 problem in the corridors of Westminster.

EU rules allow individual EU countries to issue long-term visas and a recent report that the Government is now considering addressing the problems for professional musicians is encouraging. We are making the case that any solution should also cover sail and motorboat cruising.

We do not know if this approach will succeed. That’s why we are also directly approaching key cruising countries to seek 180-day cruising visas for members.

Initially we are focussing our efforts on governments, MPs and local politicians in Sweden, the Netherlands, France, Spain, Portugal and Greece.

In parallel, our members will contact marinas, harbour authorities and marine service businesses requesting that they speak directly to their local politicians on the CA’s behalf.

Country by country

Each EU member country can set its own policy for visas and permits of more than 90 days, hence our ‘local’ teams are working out the best strategy for each country.

However, we consider it important to share the underlying tone of our message with you, as follows:

  • Our 6,300 members love the culture of the waterside communities where they cruise and also contribute in no small way to them.
  • Our members play their part in the economy of many coastal and inland villages and towns.
  • The boating community is international, friendly and supportive. In the UK we warmly welcome fellow boaters in the seafaring tradition that links the ordinary people of the UK and the EU.
  • Many British boat owners keep their boats permanently in the EU and spend 4-6 months aboard each summer as well as some winter weeks for out-of-season sailing, or for maintenance.
  • Our members have ongoing relationships with harbours, marinas, riggers, sailmakers and marine engineers as well as food service and hospitality businesses. Many of these are away from main tourist centres.
  • The Schengen 90/180 rule restricts the time we can spend in European countries, whether on our boats or participating in other activities such as winter sports and city visits.
  • We gladly note that Schengen lets individual governments match the allowance made by the UK for visits of up to 180 days.
  • WE are asking our target countries to seize the opportunity to maintain UK boating activity in waterside communities by offering a Cruising Visa for up to 180 days, separate from the Schengen 90-day allowance. This improves safety at sea, allowing cruising skippers to make seamanlike decisions about when and where to sail for outbound and return passages from and to the UK via other Schengen countries.

So, if you currently keep your boat in Schengen or are thinking about long-term cruising there, please respond to requests for help from your Section Secretaries, and volunteer to get involved. If you’re not already a member of the Cruising Association, now is the time to join and add your voice to this important initiative.

A letter from the CA’s Patron, Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, to The Rt Hon Oliver Dowden CBE MP, Secretary of State, Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, is downloadable as a PDF here.

Schengen Countries



Czech Republic
























Schengen 90 Day Calculator

Below are examples of the calculations under the current 90 in 180 day rules. Further information can be found on our Schengen 90 Implications page.





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