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American citizen & foreign work, visas and all
Posted: Monday, March 11, 2019 5:17 PM
Joined: 08/02/2019
Posts: 4

Hello all,

Seeking authoritative knowledge on rules, regulations, and requirements for a USA citizen to work on foreign boats and in foreign places.  USA passport and US Coast Guard Merchant Mariner Credentials (USCG MMC).  I'm new to this and looking for work either private, charter, or commercial.


Many of the opportunities I see ask if I have a Schengen visa.  I don't, and from my research a Schengen visa is both not required for a US passport and also is not valid for work, though it does cover trips for business.  Also it is only valid for a 90-day stay.


Other research indicates that to work as a foreigner in any specific country requires a work permit valid for only that specific company for a specific job.  It does not cover working in other countries.  Therefore that does not seem the appropriate route for working on a boat traveling to other countries.


I'm also a Registered Nurse, and though looking for deck work, would like to know about working as a nurse aboard a boat.  My Merchant Mariner credentials are for Professional Nurse, Radio Officer, Junior Assistant Purser, ordinary seaman, wiper, and steward's department (F.H).


Any maritime labor lawyers, specialists in this aspect of crew hiring, or American citizens with first-hand knowledge or experience with this?


I request only responses from those in a professional capacity that deal with this, or American citizens that have gone through this.  Thank you.


Fair winds,


Posted: Friday, March 15, 2019 9:38 PM
Joined: 11/01/2016
Posts: 1

Excellent questions, you are over thinking it though. You are not working in the countries where the boat is docked so you do not need a work permit. Foreign flag boats are registered mainly in tax haven countries like Marshall Islands, Jamaica or Cayman Islands. You are essentially working for a foreign owned company and don’t need a work visa for a boat that travels to Spain, France or is in Bahamas for a season.yacht jobs requiring Schengen visas are for certain passport holders that need to apply for a Schengen tourist visa in person at an embassy. This doesn’t apply to US passport holders because we get a Schegen visa on arrival, his will change in 2021 because of new laws though. Once you are signed onto the boat’s crew list they will take care of your visas so it won’t expire in 90 days if you’re in the Med. Boats that stay year round in the Med however do give preference to EU passport holders so they don’t gave to deal with your visas. Some jobs might also state must have a B1B2 visa which is for the US so that doesn’t apply to you.

It is however illegal for you to search for work in person while in a foreign country that you do not have a work permit for. You can seek employment from the US through an online job post or through a crew agent and accept the job offer then they fly you in to meet the boat. Immigration might ask your reason for entering their country with a one way ticket, the boat should issue you a letter or boat papers explaining that you are a mariner joining a foreign flagged boat whose current itinerary takes them to that country.

I would also recommend applying for Nurse positions on large motor yachts over 60 meters or 100 meters. You will most likely learn the deckhand position as well but get paid substantially better for your medical experience. Your UCGS tickets are also recognized on foreign flag boats also. It all depends on the yachts insurance and sometimes the yacht insurance only allows hiring 1 or 2 Americans max because we are a lawsuit happy nation. You will need your STCW10 certificate and ENG1 to work on a Superyacht. There are schools for these courses in the major yacht hubs like Ft Lauderdale, Palma and Antibes.

I recommend applying for jobs currently in the US now that are heading over the the Mediterranean for the summer season, usually they cross the Atlantic no later than May. The Caribbean season slows down in summer also because of hurricane season and most boat cross to the Med or go to Newport, RI or Sag Harbor, NY.

 If you’re already in South florida then start dock walking with your yacht formatted CV aka resume. West Palm Beach and Fort Lauderdale Florida are the main hubs this time of year to get hired. It is only legal for you to dock walk to seek employment while you are in the US though. Any boats outside the US right now that are hiring will have to be done through crew agents or online. Checkout sites like which is a job message board. Check out Facebook groups for crew agents and yacht crew groups, go to and

Good luck!


Posted: Tuesday, March 26, 2019 3:04 AM
Joined: 08/02/2019
Posts: 4

Chef Grace, thank you for your detailed reply to my inquiry!

Fair winds,


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