Beach, sea and river safety

Beach, sea and river safety for British nationals abroad

Beach safety

Beach conditions and local safety provisions vary considerably throughout the world. You should check the presence of any flags and/or lifeguards at beaches before entering the water, and familiarise yourself with the signs of a rip current or tide. The Royal National Lifeboat Institution and the Maritime and Coastguard Agency provide comprehensive beach safety guidance.

Boat and ship passenger safety

Britain’s safety standards aren’t matched by every country. If you’re travelling by sea or river there are a number of precautions you should take. If you’re travelling on any form of river or sea transport you should be aware of the following:

International river and sea travel

  • although standards of construction, equipment and crewing are regulated globally by the International Maritime Organisation (IMB), levels of implementation and enforcement of these standards differ from country to country
  • safety regulation of passenger vessels is ultimately the responsibility of the state where the vessel is registered (the flag state); this might not be the country where you board the vessel or the destination
  • British-flagged cruise ships are subject to regular security inspections and visits by UK authorities and are provided with considerable security advice and guidance by HM Government.

Domestic river and sea travel

  • boats used for domestic services like excursions aren’t subject to international standards; they may or may not be licensed or regulated depending on the laws of the country you’re in
  • the vessel’s construction, operation and maintenance, crew training, evacuation procedures, and safety equipment may not be of the same standards as you would find in the UK.
Published 1 April 2016