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Rights of ship passengers with disabilities or reduced mobility

If your mobility is reduced for example as a result of old age or disability, you are entitled to special assistance free of charge in ports and on board ships. The best way to ensure you will get the help you need is to notify your needs in advance. Learn more about assistance services and your rights in different situations.

In a port, the terminal operator will assist you in the port terminal and in proceeding to the ship. During the journey, assistance is provided by the carrier.

Assistance is always provided free of charge. The purpose of assistance is to make travelling easier and guarantee everyone equal rights to travel by ship. 

Who is entitled to assistance?

Different disabilities may make it difficult to use transport services. Not every disability is visible to the eye.


Assistance can be provided, for example, to elderly passengers, persons using a wheelchair or persons with hearing or visual impairments. 

Assistance is also provided to disabled persons and, for example, persons with autism spectrum disorders or memory disorders.

Notify your need for assistance in advance

We recommend that you bring up your need for assistance already when you book your journey. That way you can ensure you get the help you need.

Inform the carrier, port terminal operator, travel agent or tour operator of your need for assistance. You can provide the details of your need for assistance in the booking system. Sometimes you may need to give the information by telephone or by filling in a separate online form, for example.


Notify your need for assistance when you book your journey or at the latest 48 hours before the journey. 

No extra fees can be charged for notifying the need for assistance. 

If your ticket permits multiple journeys, one notification is usually enough. This is the case if information on the timing of the subsequent journeys is available when you make the notification. If you have booked your journeys separately with separate tickets, your need for assistance will not automatically be communicated to different carriers. You must separately inform all of them of your need for assistance. 

If you have not made an advance notification of your need for assistance, efforts will be made to ensure you can travel on the service. However, it may be that not all your requests can be fulfilled.

Assess your real need for assistance

No medical certificate or other document is required to receive assistance. You must assess the type of assistance you will need during the journey. Please keep in mind that distances at ports may be long.

When you notify your need for assistance, please be as specific as possible. 

What kind of assistance can I get on ship journeys?

Ship passengers’ rights apply to journeys departing from a port in an EU country. The rights also apply to ship journeys arriving from outside the EU if they are operated by a carrier established in an EU country.

The rights do not apply to short excursions or sightseeing tours. They also do not apply to ships that can only carry a few passengers or have a crew of no more than 3 persons. 

How to request special assistance

1: Notify your need for assistance in advance

Notify your need for assistance already when you book your journey or at the latest 48 hours before the departure time.

When you describe the help you need, be as specific as possible. 

2: Tell what assistive devices you need

Remember to mention all the equipment you will need, including mobility equipment, such as a wheelchair, and assistance dog or medical equipment. 


3: One notification is usually enough

If your ticket permits multiple journeys, one notification is usually enough.

4: Request confirmation of the assistance

Request written confirmation of the assistance.

5: Contact an assistant

Contact an assistant via an assistance call point in the port by the time determined. 

Your rights in different situations


If your rights have not been respected in connection with a ship journey, you can make a complaint. In the event of a problem, always first contact the carrier or port terminal operator. 

If necessary, you can also contact the authority overseeing passenger rights. In Finland, the rights of disabled persons and persons with reduced mobility in ship journeys are supervised by Traficom.