How to obtain a special Authorization to sail during Covid lockdown

The Prefecture Maritime de Méditerranée has issued an Order dated 20 March 2020 «Arrêté Préfectoral relatif à la navigation», that we wanted to share as it might impact your business, or your vessel if you are an Owner. Due to our privileged contacts with the Prefecture based in Toulon, we have managed to gather practical advices to assist our clients that needs to sail during the lockdown period.

 To resume the current situation, it is possible to obtain an individual authorization to sail in different limited situations, for instance:

- For boats actually mooring in French Ports that would need to sail to home port, or a yard. 

- For boats flying foreign flags that need to cross French seas



 The Order dated 20 March 2020 announces a general interdiction prohibition/restriction to sail, in order to avoid the propagation of the virus COVID-19; 

but this Order also strongly reminds maritime law principles that ensure the liberty to sail, especially for foreign vessels that needs to cross through French seas, or to leave French Port.

 Article 2 of the Order provides for a general interdiction/prohibition to sail for any vessels in the French seas. 

Several exception are provided, especially for:

- Commercial boats that sail for logistics purposes;

- Boats that are actually in a shipyard, and needs to sail for the purpose of works to be performed on board.

This second specific exception needs to be interpreted broadly, as it concerns any boats that need to enter into a Yard. 

 Article 4 of the Order provides that the general right of sailing in the French seas is still granted to vessels flying international flag. 

 Article 5 of the Order states that any foreign vessel still has the right to leave France, in order to go back to their home port, which is a general principle of Maritime Law.


 The following steps needs to be followed, to obtain the relevant authorization that will allow the yachts to sail in the French seas:

 Firstly, an authorization to sail needs to be granted by the Prefecture.

A formal Request needs to be filed within/before the Prefecture, that will be sent by email to the address of the Prefecture.

 The formal request needs to be executed in two times:

(i) The Request must include a quote dated before the entry into force of the Order i.e. the 20th March 2020.

(ii) Then the Prefecture will send a table/form that needs to be completed with the situation of the concerned vessel, especially detailing her flag, and technical characteristics. 

 Secondly, an authorization to leave the port needs to be granted by the Port Authority where the yacht actually moors/berths.

 Thirdly, the Captain will have to contact the competent Semaphores to inform them that the boat will be sailing with a valid authorization.

The Prefecture also informs the French Semaphore.

 Obviously, the FAVAREL team is at your entire disposal should you need any assistance in this period.

 Le Cabinet F&A