Crew Blog

Nov 15 2016

What Visas do I need to work on a Yacht? Schengen Visa, B1/B2, ESTA

Image 0052:


Visas are incredibly important if working on a superyacht and not having the correct visas could cost you your job.

What is the Visa Waiver Program?
The Visa Waiver Program (VWP) is administered by DHS and enables eligible citizens or nationals of designated countries to travel to the United States for tourism or business for stays of 90 days or less without first obtaining a visa.

Which countries participate in the Visa Waiver Program?
Citizens or nationals of the following countries are currently eligible to travel to the United States under the VWP:

Andorra Hungary New Zealand
Australia Iceland Norway
Austria Ireland Portugal
Belgium Italy San Marino
Brunei Japan Singapore
Chile Republic of Korea Slovakia
Czech Republic Latvia Slovenia
Denmark Liechtenstein Spain
Estonia Lithuania Sweden
Finland Luxembourg Switzerland
France Malta Taiwan**
Germany Monaco United Kingdom*
Greece The Netherlands

**With respect to all references to “country” or “countries” in this document, it should be noted that the Taiwan Relations Act of 1979, Pub. L. No. 96-8, Section 4(b)(1), provides that “[w]henever the laws of the United States refer or relate to foreign countries, nations, states, governments, or similar entities, such terms shall include and such laws shall apply with respect to Taiwan.” 22 U.S.C. § 3303(b)(1). Accordingly, all references to “country” or “countries” in the Visa Waiver Program authorizing legislation, Section 217 of the Immigration and Nationality Act, 8 U.S.C. 1187, are read to include Taiwan. This is consistent with the United States’ one-China policy, under which the United States has maintained unofficial relations with Taiwan since 1979.

*British citizens only with the unrestricted right of permanent abode in England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man.

What are the passport requirements to travel under the Visa Waiver Program?
Travel under the VWP is restricted to travelers possessing passports with specified security features. Visa Waiver Program requirements are:

The passport must have a machine-readable zone on the biographic page.
The passport must be an electronic passport with a digital chip containing biometric information about the passport owner.
As of April 1, 2016, all travelers must have an e-passport to use the VWP.  An e-Passport, denoted by the symbol Image 0053:  , is an enhanced secure passport with an embedded electronic chip. E-Passports are issued by the proper passport issuing authority and must meet international standards for securing and storing information corresponding to the passport and bearer.   

B1/B2 visa

Many foreign flagged yachts will only hire non-American crew if they hold a B1/B2 visa for the United States. This is a specific, non-immigration visa which is essential for any potential crew to hold if they wish to work on a luxury yacht which is either a U.S. flagged yacht and/or enters U.S. waters:

B1 Visa = Visitor for business
B2 Visa = Visitor for pleasure

These Visas allow you to stay in the U.S.A for up to 180 days


Schengen visa

The Schengen States are 26 European countries who have signed a treaty allowing holders of a Schengen Visa to travel freely between them. These countries are Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland.

Crewing on a luxury yacht will almost certainly involve you entering and travelling around the Schengen States, so obtaining a Schengen visa, from the Embassy of the Country you will be first visiting, is essential.

Australian visa

Australia provides a superyacht specific visa for crew visiting its shores. The superyacht crew visa allows for the crew of a superyacht to work on board vessels based in Australia for up to one year.

According to the Australian Government immigration department, you must be employed as a superyacht crew member and be sponsored by an approved superyacht crew sponsor or supply details of a potential sponsor who has applied for approval.

If you are granted this visa, you can:

Stay in Australia for a period of usually no more than 12 months
Enter Australia as many times as you want while the visa is valid
Work on your sponsor’s superyacht while you are in Australia
You cannot however do any work that falls outside of the usual day-to-day routine maintenance or business of the superyacht.

Seaman’s book

Once you have a job, you should apply for a Seaman’s book, which is a personal log book containing all information on your previous job roles and time at sea. Though not officially required, a Seaman’s book will help prove what experience you have and what qualifications you have gained. It’s also recognised by many as a form of proof that you are working on a yacht.

To apply for a Seaman’s book contact the flag registry that the yacht is registered to. A Seaman’s Book is also a compulsory document for applying for transit visas.