Passport perils

A cruise ship called at one of the Canary Islands. Prior to the ship’s arrival, the agent provided the Spanish border authorities with a passenger list indicating 15 South American nationals would be among those landing.

According to EU regulations, non-EU nationals must present themselves at the border post to obtain the necessary entry clearance. Only 1 of the 15 Brazilian passengers went through the correct procedure at Spanish border control.

The Spanish Interior Ministry subsequently pursued the agent under legislation that provides it is an offence for the “parties responsible for the transport” to bring foreigners into Spanish territory without having verified the validity of their transport documents and ensuring that landing procedures were complied with.

As the Brazilian passengers had not presented their passports to border control, there had been, prima facie, a breach of this regulation. The agent faced a potential fine of up to €140,000 (€10,000 per passenger). Lawyers were instructed to defend the agent. Ultimately the Spanish Authorities did not impose penalties on the agent who undertook to avoid future breaches of the regulation.

The agent incurred legal costs of US$ 7,500 for which they were reimbursed by ITIC.

ITIC has frequently assisted ship agents exposed to the possibility of fines for breaches of immigration regulations. This claim related to passengers but often the cases involve crew members disembarking without complying with the necessary formalities. Many of these claims should be the responsibility of the owners but immigration authorities frequently target the agent long after the ship has sailed.

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