I was asked many times this summer about nautical border crossing in Adriatic after Croatia became the member of EU. It was not easy to answer this question in a simple way, but I finally got relevant information and will try to share them with you in the most simple way possible.
First of all, since the July 1st 2013 foreign owners do not have to obtain famous vignette along with the list of possible guests on their vessels (not the crew list!) any more. The prove of paid amends for navigation safety, navigation informative chart and lighthouses fee would be receipt issued from port authorities. The owners are obliged to have this receipt aboard at all times while sailing Croatian territory waters.
In terms of border crossing from Croatia to Slovenia or Italy (both EU members), again not many things have changed. Croatia has become an EU member but it did not access so called the “Schengen zone”. It is an association of countries between which traffic of goods and persons (border crossing) is going on completely free of any administration.
Therefore, if you want to sail from Croatia to Slovenia or Italy, and your vessel is not bearing a Croatian flag; you should check out the terms of border crossing between the country of your flag and Slovenia and /or Italy.
In case that you chartered a yacht in Croatia, and are willing to cross Slovenian or Italian border, you should pay attention to several things. First of all you should make sure that the vessel you chartered is registered for international sailing. I suggest to state your intention to cross the border when you first contact your charter agent or company. Not all yachts offered by charter agencies have such registration. Registration for international navigation requires some specific types of insurances and safety and communication equipment.
Furthermore, the charter company could provide you information on all needed procedures regarding the countries you would like to visit. Last but not least, you should get informed on the port closest to the border; where you should do the paper-work. That means that you are obliged to present to the border police your current crew list along with personal documents of your crew (ID and/or passport). The same procedure should be done in the port closest to the border crossing of the country you are entering.
In case you intend to visit Slovenia from Croatia, recommended ports to do the exit would be those on the western Istrian coast – Rovinj, Poreč, Novigrad or Umag. Piran, Portorož, Izola and Koper are Slovenian cities where mooring is organized either in marinas (Portorož, Izola) or in ports. In those ports it is also possible to do the entering paper-work.
Although Slovenian coast is not as indented as Croatian, and there are no islands, sailing Slovenian waters is interesting and sometimes rather demanding. Small Slovenian coastal cities offer cheerful charm of Mediterranean while hidden taverns will satisfy even the most demanding gourmands. Sailing North Adriatic is always recommended with extra care of bura, the NE wind which could be very severe and sometimes dangerous in these waters. Even if your final planned destination is Italy, it is worth to spend an extra day sailing Slovenian waters and visiting its picturesque coastal cities.
Regarding Italian destinations in this region, popular sailing destinations would be Muggia, Trieste, Lignano and, of course, Venezia. Recommended marinas would be marina Porto San Rocco in Muggia, marina San Giusto in Trieste, marina Punta Faro in Lignano while mooring in Venezia requires more detailed information. Paper-work is to be done at the office of the “Polizia di Frontiera Presso Scalo Marittimo ed Aereo di Venezia”.
Berths can be found at one of numerous sailing clubs such as Campagnia della Vela (Venice Sailing Club) at Isola San Giorgio Maggiore (SE of St Mark’s Sq.) or elsewhere in the lagoon. Regardless of some border crossing administration and busy traffic in this region, sailing North Adriatic is always interesting and adventurous, especially if you are about to visit Portorož boat show Internautica in May, the largest Adriatic regatta Barcolana in Trieste in October; or discover the secrets of Venetian canals at any time of the year!
I wish you a calm sea, fine wind and a strong mast!