You may have thought that with yachts moving between one country and another inside the EU that the days of hoisting the Q Flag and requesting Free Pratique where over. But, it would now appear, that you would be wrong.
The all yellow Q for Quebec flag when flown from the cross trees as a single flag means My vessel is ‘healthy’ and I request free pratique. Where Pratique is the license given to a ship to enter port on assurance from the captain to convince the authorities that he/she is free from contagious disease. Once that clearance is granted it is commonly referred to as Free Pratique.
But now Documents and formalities requested by customs in France and Monaco seem to infer that meaning has changed.
Yachts arriving in French waters are being advised to hoist the Q ﬂag and keep it flying for the ﬁrst 48 hours after entering French waters or until the yacht has received a visit on board by customs even if they have already sent the agent all requested documents.
Pratique has not is seems been granted freely until such times as the yacht has received back from the agent all the lists stamped by customs along the original cash declaration document again stamped by customs.
Private vessels seeking to pay VAT on duty free alcohol or wishing to have it sealed off by customs (in which case they will need a dedicated bond locker), need to get their agent to either start the procedure for the VAT payment, or inform customs that they wish to have it bonded.
This procedure has to be started before arrival of vessel if possible, or immediately upon arrival. According to regulations, customs will require to actually see the alcohol, cash etc. upon declaration.
The following declarations and documents to be sent to agents prior to vessel’s arrival in French waters
- Copy of boat papers
- Copy of crew list
- Copy of insurance papers
- Copy of Alcohol and Tobacco declaration
- Copy of French Cash declaration. The original will be picked up by agent upon arrival to get registered and stamped by customs at the closest customs ofﬁce
- Copy of Weapons declaration
- Copy Drugs and Medicine declaration
- Copy of Art works inventory