What is the contiguous zone?

 

The contiguous zone is a band of water which extends from the outer edge of territorial sea to a point lying 24 nautical miles from baseline.

Within the contiguous zone, a state can exert limited control over vessels for the purpose of preventing or punishing infringement of the customs, monetary, immigration or sanitary laws and regulations that apply to its territorial sea and borders.

You can find out about the legal background to this topic by visiting our maritime law pages.

Territorial sea

Territorial sea, which marks the inner border of the contiguous zone, lies up to 12 nautical miles from baseline. There are no standard rules for resolving conflicts in situations where contiguous zones overlap, and as a result, each state must negotiate its own compromise with its immediate neighbours.

Territorial sea was defined in 1982 by the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea as a belt of coastal water extending no more than 12 nautical miles from baseline. Territorial sea is regarded as sovereign territory, although foreign vessels are usually allowed innocent passage in this area.

These treaties form part of international law, which you can learn about by clicking the link.

Baseline

Baseline is defined as the boundary at the land edge of territorial waters, and is measured by the low water line along the coast, as marked on charts officially recognised by the coastal state. This could be the low water mark closest to the shore.

Straight baselines are defined by connecting fringing islands along a coast or across the mouths of rivers or bays, as long as the bay is not more than 24 miles across.

Maritime solicitors

Issues relating to the contiguous zone frequently crop up in matters relating to maritime law. Maritime lawyers are concerned with territorial and shipping disputes, and can offer legal advice on all aspects of shipping law.

Special provision is made in international shipping law for internal waters, being those areas of water over which a state has complete jurisdiction, such as lakes, rivers and archipelagic waters within surrounding sovereign islands.

If you would like to obtain legal advice on maritime law, Contact Law can put you in touch with a cost-effective shipping solicitor free of charge. Please call us on 0800 1777 162 or complete the web-form above to speak to one of our advisors.

Call
0800 1777 162
or fill in the form
Our trained advisor contacts you
Your chosen specialist solicitor calls you
Quick enquiry form
Area of law:
Name:
Town/City:
Email:
Phone:
What our clients say about us
"This was the first time I've been to court, which was a nerve-racking experience for me. However, I felt very prepared, I understood my case and representation - this was down to you."
Gavin, criminal motoring, Oct 15
"Your service, and the prompt call back from your recommended firm was very good. I would not hesitate to call again or recommend your service."
Ian, employment law, Truro, July 15
"The firm were excellent, could not have been better! They are exactly what I need right now."
Linda, criminal defence, Thames Ditton, Jul 15
"Your contact and service was immediate and utmost professional, 10/10."
TF, conveyancing, Dudley, Jun 15
"I appreciate the service that you provide. I found you to be courteous, efficient and reassuring at a time when my confidence in justice is completely negative."
Patrick, litigation, Pontypridd, Jun 15
"I cannot tell you how much I appreciate the speed of which you came back to me in. If anyone else can benefit from your help like I have done, it would make my day."
Gail M, family law, Potters Bar, Jun 15
"Your assistance was extremely helpful. Particularly to someone who in 40 years of business has never experienced this sort of issue."
TD, commercial litigation, Galashiels, Apr 15
"It is difficult to express the value Contact Law has to someone like me who had very little understanding of the law and how to proceed forward with my case. Thank you for the service you provided."
AE, defamation law, Worthing, Apr 15
"Thank you for the efficient service I received. I was contacted by your solicitor on the same day as my request. Your quick response to my situation made me feel secure."
AN, employment law, London, Apr 15
"Your service was excellent, very fast and informative. I never got the impression of being pressurised at all. The solicitor you recommended was also excellent – very knowledgeable and supportive."
JHD, Motoring law, Liverpool, Apr 15
Contact Law supports the endeavours of STAE and commends all the work they are undertaking to assist in the plight of the Asian Elephant

 

We use cookies on the Contact Law site to help us improve it.

If you would like to allow our cookies, please click 'Continue' or carry on browsing. For more information on cookies and how to change your settings, click 'More info'.