With all of unknown surrounding Brexit, many UK sailors have been exploring all of the different ways in which we might or might not be affected by Brexit. Before we left the UK, we were approached by several doom and gloom merchants who felt that there was already way to much bureaucracy around being allowed to travel and we were bound to end up being shoved from pillar to post trying to stay within the law even whilst still in Europe!
Needless to say, we weren’t put off and we set sail knowing we had a minimum of a year of free travel around Europe. So now as we approach our 3rd year, we know that things will be beginning to change soon. Having officially left Europe, we understand that nothing will change before the end of 2020. So we have another year of free travel at least.
We understand that the worse case scenario at the end of this year would be joining those such as our Canadian and Australian travellers who dance the Schengen shuffle every 90 days.
The Schengen Shuffle means you can stay in Europe for 90 out of every 180 days. So you have leave Europe every 3 months. So we would be sailing from Greece to Turkey, back to Greece, over to Tunisia, back to Spain, over to Croatia, back to Italy, over to Montenegro and back to Greece.
It is all quite difficult because each time you cross the border you need an agent to check in, you need to pay a series of fees and try and work out how many days you can stay in the said country. Then you hope that the weather is favourable for your trip back into Europe.
Being a member of the European state, you can freely travel between Spain, France, Italy, Portugal, Greece without a care in the world! Well apart from checking you have paid the right cruising taxes for each country.
Anyway, apart from leaving Croatia when we first bought the boat, it has been easy for us and we have not had to worry about where we are and how long we have been here.
We have been planning to sail in Turkey because the stainless steel work is much better quality than in Greece and the prices of labour are also favourable. We did however, postpone our trip last year thinking we may as well wait until we have to go when we have to abide by the Non European traveling rules.
As we have so much enjoyed our time in Greece, we have been investigating whether we would be able to stay for longer in Greece if we were to have a residential permit.
So here is the list of everything we have had to do in order to gain a Greek Residency Permit.
First we both had to have a Greek Tax Number. We had to acquire this through a Greek Accountant and prove that we were still paying UK taxes. (The last think we need it to have to pay taxes in both UK and Greece).
We then had to get a Greek bank account … each! And put money in it and prove we had money in them … this is easier said than done because online it gives you a balance but not on the same page as the Greek account number, in the Bank I have to wait for two and a half hours for them to print off the balance. Greek banks are a nightmare!
We then had to get our Health Insurance translated into Greek by a Greek Lawyer and take all of these documents to the police station. Oh, we also needed photographs! We found a little shop with a little man who would take your photo and print it to the right size … this was all very educational … Greek business is like going back in time at least 50 years!
Our health and safety people would have a field day with the cigarette smoke (it has been illegal to smoke inside for 10 years here) and the police station was the worst)! Piles of papers, electric cables and gas heaters all live in close proximity to each other although only visible through the hazy cigarette smoke. It did make me ponder the values of all of Europe being equal and abiding by the same rules.
Anyway, armed with our new residential permit, we will now see if it alters anything. We were led to believe we might be able to stay in Greece for 5 years. The permit has a start date but not an end date and no-one wants to put their neck on the line and anticipate what we will be allowed to do with it.
We have found that Greek official interpretation of official documents is less than uniform and often open to misinterpretation, so we feel it is safer to still tread carefully even as the proud owners of the said documents!
So we still have no idea how Brexit will affect our traveling, we shall wait and see …. again
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