Monaco/French port and movement restrictions during the COVID-19 pandemic

As a result of the global outbreak of COVID-19 increasing numbers of port authorities across Europe have adopted stringent controls to limit (or even ban) movement of people to attempt to minimise the chance of the illness spreading.

No exception to the rule for Monaco and France.
Monaco and France are on lockdown since mid March and remain so at least until 4 May for Monaco and 11 May for France from the latest news announced.

Several National and Prefectoral Decrees and orders have been passed since then to clarify the measures to be respected, the main ones being:

For France :
  • Ministerial Decree n ° 2020-260 of 16 March 2020 regulating travel in the context of the fight against the spread of the covid-19 virus
  • Order of 19 Marc 2020 supplementing the order of 14 March 2020 carrying various measures relating to the fight against the spread of the covid-19 virus
For Monaco:
  • Ministerial Decision of March 17, 2020 relating to the temporary regulation of movements with a view to fight against the spread of the COVID-19 virus, taken in application of article 65 of Sovereign Ordinance n ° 6.387 of May 9, 2017 relating to the implementation of the International Health Regulations (2005) to combat the international spread of the disease

Before moving either in France or in Monaco you need to complete official derogatory certificates (available via smartphones since beginning of April): personal certificate and / or work certificate depending upon the circumstances. In addition an international travel certificate is now required if you travel to or from mainland France or the overseas territories or are in transit. This included movement across the France/Monaco border. It is to be presented to the authorities responsible for internal and external border control (air, sea, land connections, including rail links).
In practice movements are only permitted in the following circumstances:

1.1 On land:
Only travel to work (if unavoidable), or for emergencies, family /medical reasons, exercise and for purchasing essential groceries are allowed.
Road borders remain open with France and Italy but only for working purposes.

1.2 Air travel:
Nice Airport Terminal 1 is closed temporarily and all flights moved to Terminal 2.
Only essential air travel is authorised  again for a valid work / family or medical reason for example.

1.3 On water:
All nautical activities and access to ports forbidden or authorized on very restrictive conditions.
So what is authorized in French and Monegasque waters and ports?
  • No anchorage is allowed
  • Cruise ships and non-regular passenger ships carrying more than 100 passengers are prohibited from calling in the mainland French ports of the Mediterranean, Atlantic, English Channel and North Sea, unless exemption is granted by the competent representative of the State (mainly in case of emergency or for health reasons).
  • Only yachts with long-term or seasonal berth contracts are accepted.
Additional restrictions apply in Monaco ports:
  • Only Monaco flagged yachts are allowed to enter if they have an annual or seasonal berth
  • Yachts will be automatically placed under quarantine for two weeks
Yachts wishing to enter ports:
  • shall make a prior declaration to the “Maritime Prefecture of the Mediterranean” at the following e-mail address:
  • must be in possession of an annual or seasonal berth reservation
  • must submit a Declaration of Health (DMS) to the Division of Maritime and Airport Police  and a valid Ship Sanitation Exemption Certificate (SSEC) if applicable 48 hours prior to arrival if coming from another country; and lastly
  • be in possession of a derogatory international travel certificate to mainland France or the overseas territories as previously described.
Once in port:
  • Yachts will not be able to return to sea until the end of the lock down restriction period
  • Ad hoc requests can be made for yachts wishing to leave ports
  • Yachts deciding to leave ports will not be able to return if they do not hold an annual or seasonal berth contract
  • Yachts can go to shipyards as long as refit/repair/maintenance contracts are signed, are available, a declaration is made to the nearest port authority and Covid 19 recommendations respected.
Only commercial ports like Marseille, Fos, Paris, Rouen, Havre are still operational to ensure the continuity of their essential activities and missions including the transport of goods and reception of ships to  enable European supplies.

The Master shall communicate any change in the healthcare situation on board occurred after the issuance of the Declaration of Health, during the entire stay of the vessel in the port until its departure.
There should be no disembarkation or embarkation of persons presenting symptoms related to a Coronavirus infection on board a ship at sea cannot be done without the prior agreement of the maritime prefect, the DDG AEM if applicable, and the prefect of the department concerned. The conduct adopted with regard to a suspicious case is necessarily the subject of consultation between the competent health and administrative authorities.
So in brief crew movements are restricted to only essential activities and Vessels are advised to remain in their current port, unless there is a guaranteed (in writing) alternative port entry agreed in advance.

As far as visitor movements are concerned: all contractors and visitors should be restricted to absolutely critical work for the operational of the vessel and a good advice would be that they be asked to complete a pre boarding notice relating to COVID 19 exposure and access denied to any person presenting a risk.
Violations of this decree shall expose their perpetrators to fines between 135 EUR and  375 EUR in France and up to 200 EUR in Monaco plus penal proceedings, penalties which can go up to 150,000 EUR and 1 year of prison.

Due to shutdown of certain subcontractors and suppliers, the closure of ports, and to protect the health of their teams, the majority of the local yards, Monaco Marine and IMS included, have taken the decision to temporary close and stop all works due to force majeure.

Some yards have started to announce their decision to reopen their facilities. Even if they do so they will only be working at 20% / 30% of their capacity though which will continue to imply important delays as the health and sanitary measures required to be taken are drastic.


3.1 Yachts operating under TA / yachts sold for export / yachts needed to be exported at the end of an IPR period
Non-EU flag vessels whose 18-month stay in EU waters is set to expire should  obtain formal extension from Customs. No fixed extension has been granted yet unlike the position in Spain so every yacht has to submit an official request.
This is the same for yachts due to be exported after a change of ownership if the 90 days are due to elapse.

3.2 Yachts operating under the FCE regime / TA regime
International yacht carriers can still operate in France.
Commercial yachts operating under the FCE regime and TA can therefore come back and get imported as long as they have a berth reserved, can prove the same and prior declarations as above stated have been made.

3.3 Change of ownership / new deliveries
COVID-19 may give rise to issues under MOAs or new build agreements, where the port at which the vessel is to be delivered by the seller is in lockdown or is quarantined and where the contract provides for the vessel to be delivered by the specified date failing which the contract can be cancelled. In the absence of a ‘force majeure’ clause, the exact answer to these issues will depend on the wording of the particular contract, and the law applicable to the contract.

In general terms, new deliveries / intra community acquisitions / Imports can be made again as long as they have a berth reserved, can prove the same and prior declarations as above stated have been made. Otherwise specific request shall be made to the local Customs which remain quite flexible during this period.

3.4 Sea trials
Sea trials for yachts under constructions or refit are allowed as long as organized by the yard as it needs to be seen as a professional activity.
We start to see light at the end of the tunnel and the fact that yards start to reopen is a good sign. A lot of questions marks still remain though and we still do not know for the moment when the International borders shall reopen which is a key information for brokers and owners who need to take decisions about the summer charter season.

We shall have a clearer picture about how the lock down restrictions will be progressively lifted in May.
Rosemont will monitor the situation and keep you updated.
Until then stay confined, stay safe, and keep strong.

For more information or advice, contact Janet Xanthopoulos, Legal Adviser, Head of Yacht & Jet Ownership & Administration Dpt: