Crossing to England: the rules at a glance

England: traditionally a popular destination for Dutch sailors. Relatively close, a short but challenging crossing and countless nice harbors and places to discover. Are you planning to sail to England during the long Whitsun weekend? Or do you already want to make plans for the summer holidays? Since Brexit, going to England for a while may have become a little less obvious, but certainly no less worthwhile. In addition to your normal preparations for a crossing, you have to prepare a number of things well before you start the crossing to the United Kingdom.


Since the UK is no longer part of the EU due to Brexit, you can no longer just moor there and celebrate that you have reached the other side: you have to clear customs first. You can register for this at customs between 24 and 2 hours before arrival. The easiest way to do this is to complete the sPCR (Pleasure Craft Report) online. You can create an account on the government site to easily submit your data, ship information, crew list, goods documentation and travel plan online.

The sPCR is the digital version of the C1331 form, which previously could only be sent by post or in an Excel version in an e-mail attachment. Saving and adjusting later is possible with the online version, so that you can prepare it at home and pass on any last changes just before arrival at sea (with internet again). This information is then available to both the Border Force and the HMRC (coast guard), so that you no longer have to communicate with two agencies separately.

crossing england rules
Chalk cliffs at Dover (c) CC0


Once within the 12-mile zone, in British waters, you must hoist the yellow Q flag on the starboard side. Make sure the flag is clearly visible and report by phone to the National Yachtline (telephone number +44 300 123 2012). You may not go ashore until you have officially cleared customs. A customs officer often comes on board for this purpose. Once cleared, you can iron the quarantine flag again.

Papers and other rules

Finally, it is important to check before departure whether you have all the necessary documents on board. For example, the customs officer may ask for the insurance policy or proof of ownership of your boat. And don’t forget your own passport – an ID card will no longer suffice. A boat license is not required for pleasure craft smaller than 24 metres. And if you stay in the United Kingdom for less than six months, you do not need a visa.

A comprehensive overview of all other rules for sailing to the UK yourself can be found here. For example, your pet is not allowed on board and customs will ask you if you goods to declare have. Finally, you must also inform the HMCR when you leave the United Kingdom.

Sailing method English East Coast

Sailing guide

Would you like more tips and more detailed information about sailing to Great Britain? Or do you already want to dream away at the countless nice places that you can visit? Then read the Sailing Guide The English East Coast. Anje Valk takes you along all kinds of beautiful, intriguing destinations, such as the Thames Delta, the northern English coast to the Scottish border and of course Lowestoft and Pin Mill. This fourth, revised edition also includes updates on the new offshore wind farms and the amended provisions for maritime shipping since Brexit.

Tags: Brexit, England, United Kingdom Last modified: May 22, 2023

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