When applying for a job with Cruise Liners, all employees must be eligible to work in the country where the cruise ship is registered. Cruise ships sail to many great corners of the world. And all personnel who want to visit those countries must obtain valid visas.


First of all to be able to travel abroad, you will need a valid passport. Apart from the passport, it is recommended to have other ID documents with you all the time, such as a driving license. Once you get to the ship the purser will file your passport and other documents and keep them in a safe, since you won’t need them during the cruise.

Certainly most staff on cruise ships do not come from the same country from where the ship is registered. Therefore many of them need a valid visa and/or work permit to work on a cruise ship legally.

Joining the ship at a US Port

If your ship embarks from a port in the USA or you have a stopover in one of the US ports, you will need the appropriate visa. You do not need to apply for a Green Card. All you need is your letter of employment (from your employer) and apply for C1 Transit, D1 Seamen and B2 Visitor visa at the US embassy in your country. These visas allow you to enter the USA for a limited time, usually for 30 days only, when your ship calls to a US port.

However if you choose to stay in the USA, you will need to return to your home country to apply for the work permit – as you cannot stay in the USA with C1/D1/B2 visa. Contact the US embassy in your home country for more information.

Joining the ship at a European port

Workers and Nationals of the European Economic Area (i.e. countries of the European Union plus Norway, Iceland, and Lichtenstein) can work and live freely in the EU. However if you are not a citizen of the European Union, you need to apply for a proper visa for the country where you will disembark and join the ship.

If your ship crusies the seas under the German, French, Italian, Greek or Norwegian flag you need to apply for the appropriate work visa unless you are a national of one of the EU countries.

Cruise ship companies are used to employing staff from all over the world. They know how to obtain necessary visas and work permits. They will assist you and guide you through the process of applying for all the work visas and permits once they give you a job offer and you accept it.

Joining the ship at a UK port

Till now citizen of the EU could live and work in the UK freely without the need to apply for a work permit.

However this will and has been changed after the BREXIT. Please contact your British Embassy at your home country for additional requirements.

If your cruise ship is registered in the UK, you will need to apply for the appropriate work permit and visa at the British embassy in your country according to the new BREXIT regulations

A quick search under “Government-approved ESTA,” for example brings up the correct site but it’s also worth visiting the Foreign Office website (gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice) for the links to official visa sites. British passport holders can visit over 170 countries without needing a visa, but some popular destinations do require one – even if you’re not planning to step ashore.

General info

Most cruise lines use visa agent CIBT to obtain the correct paperwork for customers but if you have the time and patience you can save money by applying to the embassy yourself. A few weeks before travel it is wise to check that there have been no sudden changes to visa requirements for your ports of call, although your travel agent or cruise line should warn of these. Always allow plenty of time to obtain your via visas as small omissions in paperwork can lead to the application being delayed or rejected.

Many embassies now ask for application and payment to be made online which involves uploading passport scans and photographs. The process can be a frustrating one so have a tech savvy friend on hand.

When applying for electronic travel permits (e-visas) beware of online agencies – often listed at the top of browser search results – that pose as official sites but charge exorbitant fees. Useful key words when searching include “official visa site for…” or “official application site for…”