Non-EU boats can stay in the EU 18 months before being subject to import duty. It is unclear how long the boat should remain outside the EU before re-entering; some suggest 1 hour in international waters, while others believe that you need to stay out 6 of 24 months.
Some Greek authorities have been known to enforce these regulations.
The Shengen treaty
might be more of a problem in Greece. Non EU residents are allowed to remain in the EU no longer than 3 months. You then need to travel to a non-Shengen country for a few hours and return for another 3 months. A flight or ferry to Tunisia, Croatia or Turkey will reset the clock provided you get a clear stamp in your passport showing that you have left the Shengen area. Note that some non-EU countries like Switzerland are still part on the Shengen treaty..
If you are going to try the international waters scenario, you need to check out of the EU as if heading for a non EU country and get an exit stamp in your passport. Make sure your log book is clearly updated showing your passage into international waters before you return.
It might help to photograph your GPS showing your position and the date. Of course they may not believe the photo as it could have been doctored with photoshop.
A friend was fined €1100 when leaving Greece for Turkey because he had been in the EU more than 3 months.
If you stay in Greece, or if you plan to stay or leave the boat longer than 3 months, you are liable for cruising tax which, I was told, could be as much as €300 for a 12 meter boat (actually it is only €14.67 x 12 meters= €176.04 for three months) so might be advisable to travel elsewhere when you get close to your 3 month deadline.
The cruising tax could be an issue for boats considering wintering in Greece. Before a yard will haul the boat you will need to go to the port authorities who will charge you the tax up front, for the time you plan to stay in Greece.
This regulation is being challenged by cruisers who feel that it is not compliant with EU regulations.
Others have pointed out the low cost of cruising in Greece, paying little or nothing at city docks and suggested that the cruising tax is a small price to pay for the privilege of cruising in this magnificent paradise.
Howard and Jayne [ Just Imagine ] 23-Feb-2011
Transit Log (Formalities)
At your first port of entry you will be issued a Transit Log. This costs about €30 for non-EU vessels. EU vessels get something similar but it is called something different.
You are only required to present the transit log when in port, or when requested by authorities. Some cruisers only submit the transit log when requested and this may save on dockage fees and aggravation.
Being super cautious, with a preprogrammed fear of authorities, I dutifully submitted my transit log in almost each port that we visited where we tied to the dock. Sometimes they were surprised to see me and were not sure what to do with it.
In almost all cases I was charged a small fee (about € 4/day) for dockage and they stamped my log in and out.
We got our transit log in Zakinthos. A self appointed dock agent took our passports and ships papers and returned the next day with our new transit log (30 Euros) and his bill for €20. We later learned that we could have got our own transit log and avoided his fee, but I do not regret making use of his service and would probably do the same again next time.
At the end of my stay in Greece I turned in my transit log without any problems in Simi. I had actually anchored in the adjacent bay, Pedi, and caught the bus over the hill to Simi town.
I had to see the port police on the far side of the port and then the coast guard that kept the transit log.
Howard and Jayne [ Just Imagine ] 23-Feb-2007
Keep your boat documents current (Formalities)
My documents expire each August, which is a bit of a problem as I am sailing at that time.
Most ports accepted my expired document without any problem, until I got to the notorious port of Kos.
Kos is a wonderful place and should not be missed, but beware the authorities.
When I went in to check out (in October) and get my transit log stamped, the lady officer pointed out that my USA documentation had expired some weeks earlier. She insisted that I could not leave until she had seen, at least, a fax of the original new document.
Luckily my wife was in Florida at the time, so I asked her to fax the document directly to the coast guard in Kos.
When I returned that evening, a burley officer told me that a fax was no good and he needed to see the original. This screwed up my cruising plans and my friends had to leave without me.
Several days later the FedEx envelope arrived at the Coast Guard and I was able to leave the following day.
Keep your documents up to date in Greece, especially in Kos! This minor detail turned into a huge problemHoward and Jayne [ Just Imagine ] 23-Feb-2007