Paperwork required for French Customs

barrylench

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I am planning my first Channel crossing this summer from Dover to Bolougne. I am aware that French customs can be very fussy about checking all paperwork for yachts entering French waters. Could somebody please give me a list of what Paperwork I need to carry on board and any other advice for smooth, trouble free customs.
 

Tranona

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Welcome to the forum. Although forumites will be able to answer your questions, it is better that you get the official guiidance from the RYA. Their site has a section on taking your boat abroad which will answer all your questions and tells you exactly what documents you need.

Enjoy your first trip.
 

colvic

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Hi
We carried boat registration (SSR in our case), Insurance Certificate, Bill of sale showing VAT PAID!, and our ICC. Sailed into 9 French ports from L'Havre round to Port St. Louis and have never been asked for any documents at all.
If you are going inland on the rivers and or canals you'll need a licence and they can be very keen on that, but it depends on how they feel on the day.
We did a £1 day trip on a ferry to Calais to get our inland waterways licence and were never asked for it until we got to Agde on the Midi.

Of course, you'll need passports as well!
 

SirSnoozalot

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Yeah. I was wondering about that. Only place I ever got asked for papers was Dieppe. And I didn't have em all on that occassion. Sod's Law. But they were OK about it - after lunch.
 

binch

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I can agree that it is rare to be asked for any papers in France. One is mostly left alone, but when they decide to ask for etc. then you need a full house.
Insurance cert (preferably in French )
Your cert of competence
Boat VAT
Boat registration
passports.
Radio licence
radio operator's licence
Passports
We have just spent the winter living on board at Pont l'Eveque in France. We meet the gendarmerie weekly in the local bar, where they are smoking (like all the other clients.
But because laws are often overlooked in France, do not rely on that always being the case. Far from it. But mostly their officials are polite and courteous, especially if you speak French.
 

toad_oftoadhall

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[ QUOTE ]
when they decide to ask for etc. then you need a full house.
Insurance cert (preferably in French )
Your cert of competence
Boat VAT
Boat registration
radio operator's licence


[/ QUOTE ]

Can you point to a source that confirms each of these four items are required, and what the fine/punishment/outcome is if you fail to comply? Not guesswork, or stuff you heard second hand, the actual facts from an official source.
 

chubby

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They are sensible items to cary anyway for a foreign trip but originals not photocopies, having said that we have been rarely asked for anything and on the odd occasion once we have and been able to produce them the officials have been quickly satisfied: our boat is old enough to have the old "blue book" registration which we take in addition to the new laminated A4 sheet and never fails to impress!
 

SirSnoozalot

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Hmmmmmm. You really need to read French Law then.
The RYA is theoretically the best source short of that. However, things are never as black and white as you suggest: see the thread on Spanish Tax that is presently running.

Pud is right. When they enforce, you need the full hand. Also, they have been known (from personal experience) to enforce rules that do not exist; have local laws (which invariably end up in a nominal fine - don't ask for a receipt, it's usually cheaper); and they can always find an additional law you have broken if you get balshy with them. It is important to be friendly toward them.

Unlike many of my Countrymen, I actually tend to like the French. They can be very laid back, extremely friendly if you just try and get on with them, and really appreciate it if you have tried to learn their language. A smile is cheaper than a fine.

Every now and then, they have a little purge on a specific set of legislation, often when the intervention squad get involved (Like Customs but with red stripes on their trousers - never offer these ones a bribe).

Try this link for the"official" line: http://www.rya.org.uk/KnowledgeBase/boatingabroad/Pages/abroad.aspx
 

Tranona

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Please do not start on this nonsense again. The OP has asked a sensible question and has been directed to the authoritative source. Nothing else is required in way of answer to his post.

For the benefit of other posters on this subject Toad is what is known as a "troll" and every time this simple request comes up he tries to turn it into a big drama.

So, please, please do not respond to him!
 

ebbtide

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[quote Can you point to a source that confirms each of these four items are required, and what the fine/punishment/outcome is if you fail to comply? Not guesswork, or stuff you heard second hand, the actual facts from an official source.

[/ QUOTE ]

You really are way off the mark! I too lurv the French, but they, and as I found recently in Spain, have a hit-or-miss attitiude to the rulebook. Upset a gendarme on Bastille Day and you'll end up in jail, even if he was the one you shared a drink with at lunchtime.

The only course of action is prudence, so observe the RYA guidelines and have all the paperwork on board. Of course you can post from Marseille saying you never had to show, and you wouldn't be the first, tho peeps who have have had a tough experience tend not to report back!

I mentioned Spain, where we recently had a holiday, having cancelled plans for Belgium who, because the UK didn't sign the Schengen Agreement, demand that passports be valid for six months after the end date of your visit.
I contacted the Spanish Embassy in London to be warned that altho Spain had not officially imposed that requirement there was no guarantee than a local official might not impose it.

I do hope you get the picture and take the only really safe course of action.
 

Hoolie

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Pretty well all of French Law is now up on the internet. I haven't the time or inclination to look up what you request but I'm sure it's all there. We have sorted out TVA problems and other matters relating to commercial leases without problem. Of course you need to be able to understand French legal jargon ... ...
 

toad_oftoadhall

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[ QUOTE ]
Hmmmmmm. You really need to read French Law then.

[/ QUOTE ]

That's exactly what I'm asking for. I'm astounded that anyone would think that was an unreasonable question.

[ QUOTE ]
Try this link for the"official" line:

[/ QUOTE ]

The RYA don't seem to say that a cert of competence is needed for France. The RYA say that dinghies (including tenders) must be on the SSR (that might well be true but I'd like to see an original source or a couple of cases of prosecutions), they also say you must have an original VAT receipt. Again, it might be true but I'd like to see some evidence. VAT thread: http://www.ybw.com/forums/showflat.php/Cat/0/Number/2070828/page/0/fpart/1/vc/1

As for ignoring me, please do, it would be far better if my question was ignored by anyone who can't or won't answer it.
 

BurnitBlue

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I have sailed up and down France via the canal system three time and the only time I have been asked to produce papers was during the holiday period when the pro's are away and the locks and offices are manned by students earning a crust. Gosh, but they were keen to comply with instructions left them. No problem because they mostly spoke English and were polite and tireless winding those lock handles.
 

toad_oftoadhall

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[ QUOTE ]
They are sensible items to cary anyway

[/ QUOTE ]

Of course, no reason not to carry a few docs, could be useful for all sorts of reasons. I still think a look at the legislation and a few examples of prosecutions would be useful to everyone (not just me).

Just saw your sig, Wicor Marine?
 

binch

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Please note that France has two different authorities for pleasure boats, and even their own boats. And these two do not overlap. There is Affaires Maritime, who look after the sea and there is the Ministere de transport interieur. Qualifications and requirements of one are not at all compatible with the other. (see marian Martin's translation of the Guide Vagnon de la Navigation interieure which goes a long way to explaining this. )
I used to know more about this when I was liaison Officer to the French Navy, ( a long time ago) but things have changed in detail, if not in essence.
What must be borne in mind is that the Douane have jurisdiction throughout the land and can descend on you at any time.
But at heart, Monsieur le Gendarme is very like our own PC Plod, and unless provoked, prefers a quiet life.
Above all, enjoy France. Remember that we used to rule a good part of it, but that mostly it is tactless to remind them of that. Go to see the graves of 4 kings and queens of England at Franquevaux. It's a lovely country with very nice people.
And the most frequently ordered dish in a French restaurant is steack-frites.
And there are more MacDonalds per head of population in France than anywhere else in the world.
And that Macdo's have free wi-fi.
Have a good time.
 

alldownwind

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[ QUOTE ]
[ QUOTE ]
They are sensible items to cary anyway

[/ QUOTE ]
Of course, no reason not to carry a few docs, could be useful for all sorts of reasons. I still think a look at the legislation and a few examples of prosecutions would be useful to everyone (not just me).

[/ QUOTE ]
Tell you what, Toady old sport, you could do us all a favour and do some research. In future when you sail to France, make a point of taking NONE of these documents with you. Report back from time to time. We will wait to hear how you get on.
In the meantime, not being competent or confident to argue with a determined gentilhomme de Le Gendarmerie, I shall use the knowledge that I learnt at the University of the Bl***ing Obvious and continue to take every one of those recommended documents so that I can be reasonably sure that I will not upset my French hosts.
 

westernman

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In my experience officials will want registration (original, photocopy will not do). In ports the Capitainerie will also want to see proof of third party insurance (in case you sink a few gin palaces). They don't seem fussed if it is in English. They will probably make a note of the policy number. So if they ask for something you don't understand, that is probably what they are looking for.

I have always found french officials polite and helpful - if you are polite to them - but then I am not the kind of guy who gets stopped at customs either.

--
20.3m parked in a 16m parking space
 

PlanB

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We were once asked for the full set in Boulogne and, as others have already said, if the guys visiting you want the lot, then the lot is what you need, regardless of any laws or other theory. They were also radioing details of Part 1 and passports in to HQ or somewhere.
I met someone in Ramsgate who had just returned from Dunkerque where they only had a photocopy of SSR. They were fined a couple of hundred Euros which they didn't have in cash, so one uniform marched Mr to a cashpoint while the other one made sure Mrs and boat didn't do a runner!
Better safe than sorry, say I.
 

BoyBlue49

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Example of non compliance.
We had left our SSR at last port of call, were borded by Customs, very curtious and not at all unfriendly.
They would not let us leave to retrace our steps or accept that a 'phone call to LPC would prove our case but walked us to the cash point for the 300 e fine, smiles all round and a receipt.
Spoilt our day !
 
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