Be Careful what you Bring Onboard – Contraband on Yachts

March 29, 2024

12 minute read

Yachting holidays are synonymous with leisure, relaxation and enjoyment. No worries are allowed on the deck of a superyacht, which then transforms into a way of de-stressing from the obligations of every day life. But, human nature is human nature – above all else, curious and prone to pushing the limits of what is possible or allowed.

M/y Scorpion, Photo credit to

It is for the reason of satisfying the reader`s curiosity that a topic such as contraband on yachts could be a good addition to the knowledge of potential charter clients.

Here, “contraband“ is defined as any items not allowed to be brought onboard a yacht, either because local and regional laws prohibit it, or it is strictly against the charter contract.

Since different corners of the world have different laws, it is hard to establish a set list of items, but generally include specific medications, animals, illegal opioids, firearms and other arms,

Before anything else is stated, let one thing be clear: there is no space for contraband on a yacht. If any violations do occur while the yacht is at sea, the outcome depends on the captain`s judgement, with the proper authorities being involved once the yacht makes port.

That being said, since contraband on yachts and family holidays do not mix, this blog should be treated as an „interesting insight into hypothetical yachting situations“.

Whether by proxy or by legitimate intent, there are some instances where weapons and yachts DO mix, and this article tends to list how weapons are welcome on yachts.

Legality and illegality of contraband on yachts

The legality and illegality of contraband on yachts can vary depending on the country and jurisdiction in which the yacht is located or passes through. It is important to understand the laws and regulations of the country you plan to visit or operate in, to ensure compliance and avoid any potential legal issues.

In general, most countries have laws and regulations that govern the possession, storage, and transport of contraband on yachts.

These laws may vary depending on the type of contraband and the intended use, such as sports for firearms or fireworks for explosives. However, in the majority of countries, the possession of firearms on board a yacht is strictly prohibited and can result in severe penalties, including fines, imprisonment or even the confiscation of the yacht.

bina yacht view from above
View from Above – Sundeck Jacuzzi Lounge, Front Deck Sunbathing Area on Bina yacht charter

It is important to note that some countries have specific laws and regulations for weapons and firearms that are brought into the country temporarily, such as for sport or hunting, and others have laws that apply to all types of firearms and weapons regardless of the purpose.

It is also important to note that international laws and regulations regarding contraband can also come into play when crossing borders or operating in international waters. These laws can vary greatly and it is crucial to be aware of the regulations and requirements of the countries you plan to visit or operate in.

During your visit to Croatia, you will have to comply with some basic EU rules and regulations, so it is best to be informed beforehand- talk to your expert SuperYachts Croatia broker about all the information you need before your holiday.

Border and border inspection

The first and main obstacle for contraband on a yacht is border patrol, border checks and border security. Since Croatia has become part of the EU, Croatian border and maritime laws now flow in the same way as the majority of the European Union.

Always check with your SuperYachts Croatia broker about bringing potential contraband on yachts during a charter holiday, so there are no unfortunate surprises on your holiday.

yacht charter in rijeka
Making port in one of many Croatian coastal cities will bring charter guests closer to official port authorities – Photo credit to

Croatia, like many other countries, has strict regulations regarding contraband on yachts. It is important to understand these regulations before embarking on a yacht charter holiday in Croatia to ensure compliance and avoid any potential legal issues.

For example, if you plan to bring firearms on your yacht charter holiday in Croatia, it is recommended that you contact the Croatian Embassy or Consulate in your country of residence for specific information on the regulations and the necessary documents required for bringing firearms into the country.

(Illegal) Medication

Before setting sail, charter guests should be aware of the regulations surrounding medications. Firstly, ensure that all prescription medications (if you have any) are in their original packaging, clearly labelled with the guest’s name, prescribing doctor, and dosage instructions. It’s advisable to carry a copy of the prescription for each medication.

Also, declare all prescription medications during customs checks to avoid any legal complications. It would be prudent to discreetly inform the yacht crew of any medical conditions requiring opioid use. This ensures that the crew is aware and can provide appropriate assistance if necessary.

Understand the legal restrictions on opioid use in the countries you plan to visit; some European nations have stringent regulations, and compliance is vital to avoid legal consequences.

Animals, pets and exotic species on yachts

For charter guests considering the inclusion of pets or even exotic species on their luxury yachting adventure, it’s essential to approach the experience responsibly and ethically.

Prior to booking a charter with SuperYachts Croatia, inquire about a specific yacht’s pet-friendly policy. Not all yachts accommodate pets, and each vessel may have specific regulations and restrictions.

Discuss safety measures with the yacht crew and your SuperYachts Croatia broker, including designated areas for pets, secure confinement during rough seas, and any additional precautions to ensure the well-being of both the pets and the crew.

pets on a yacht cover photo
Bringing pets onboard yachts is something you should discuss with your yacht broker beforehand – Photo Credit to: @22Images Studio from Shutterstock

Pack essentials for your pet, including food, water bowls, bedding, toys, and any required medications. Familiarize yourself with the yacht’s amenities for pets, and inform the crew of any special needs or preferences.

Obtain a health certificate from your veterinarian, confirming that your pet is in good health and up-to-date on vaccinations. This certificate may be required for customs clearance in various ports of call.

Exercise extreme caution when considering bringing exotic species on board. Many EU countries have stringent regulations and penalties for the importation of exotic animals. Confirm the legality of bringing such species into each destination.

Private security on yachts

As the number of yachts visiting Croatia increases, so does the need for private security to protect against potential threats and ensure the safety of guests and crew members.

The use of private security on board yachts in Croatia is legal, but it is subject to certain requirements and regulations. Private security personnel must be licensed and trained, and they are required to comply with local laws and regulations. Additionally, private security personnel must be able to demonstrate that they have the necessary skills and qualifications to perform their duties effectively.

Hvar Town Port at Night
Hvar Town at Night, Photo credit to Barbara Vallance from iStock Photos

It is important to note that private security personnel are not authorized to carry out law enforcement activities, such as making arrests or detaining suspects. They can only act in a defensive capacity to protect the yacht and its guests and crew members.

When hiring private security, it is important to ensure that the security company is reputable and has a proven track record of providing effective and professional services. It is also important to ensure that security personnel are properly trained and equipped to handle potential threats and emergencies.

Why discussing contraband on yachts is as interesting as it is sometimes necessary?

The world of yachting, often associated with opulence and leisure, presents unique challenges when it comes to navigating the intricacies of contraband on yachts. Regardless of chartering a yacht for a luxurious getaway or embarking on a long-haul voyage, guests must approach the experience with a heightened sense of responsibility and awareness.

Proper communication with the yacht crew, adherence to international regulations, and ethical considerations are paramount to maintaining the integrity of the high seas when talking about contraband.

Ultimately, a harmonious and responsible yachting experience requires a collaborative effort. Charter guests, yacht crews, and regulatory bodies must work together to strike a balance between luxury and sustainability. By fostering a culture of awareness and respect for the environment and local regulations, the yachting community can continue to enjoy the beauty of the seas while staying safe and without complications.