Maritime Law in France

Maritime Law in France

Updated on Monday 18th April 2016

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France is the largest West European country and it has a wide network of inland waterways as well as a vast area of territorial waters, including its numerous overseas territories. The French Maritime Law consists of French laws, European Union laws and international maritime provisions. Our French lawyers can offer you in-depth information about specific legal issues needed for certain businesses in France.

French territorial waters

France has access to the Mediterranean Sea, the English Channel and the Atlantic Ocean, including the Bay of Biscay. The delimitation of the French territorial waters is regulated by Law No. 71-1060 of 14 December 1971. According to this law, France territorial waters extend to a limit of 12 nautical miles. A territorial baseline is determined alongside the closing lines of bays. France also has jurisdiction over the airspace and the seabed of its existing territorial waters.
France has exclusive economic zones in its territorial waters, except for the Mediterranean. However, France has a Fishery Protection Area in the Mediterranean and claimed jurisdiction for the protection and preservation of the marine environment. 
Our lawyers in France can provide more information if you need to cross the French territorial waters for business purposes.

French inland waters

France has approximately 8,000 kilometers of navigable inland waters composed of rivers and canals and other waterways. International Certificates of Competence (ICC) are needed when sailing in the French coastal waters and a special certificate is needed for inland waters when sailing in the French canals and rivers. Our French lawyers can help you with more information about the ICC Certificate, how it can be awarded and different types of certificates. 

How our lawyers in France can help you

France also has a special permits system for different types of boats. Different tests are taken in order to obtain a recreational permit (for sailing on inland waters) and the permit is awarded according to the type of boat used. Also, when travelling in French waterways, a special vignette must be used according to the surface area of the boat. For more information about purchasing sail permits and special vignettes, please contact our French attorneys.
If you need special permits and licenses to operate cruises and recreational activities in France or if you want to perform various import and export activities, our law firm in France can assist you in various legal matters.