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Old 01-11-2019, 02:24   #1
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Risk of not checking in, new country / island

Just wondering what the risk would be of sailing to a new country, for example a Caribbean island, and not checking in with customs/immigration, etc. Of not paying fees, going through all the paperwork. Just sailing up to a remote part of an island, hanging on anchor or even going to shore for provisions or restaurant. If no official found out and you moved on to the next island, much of a risk? Certainly if yo were 'discovered' there could be fines and possible confiscation maybe but what is the likelihood of being discovered?
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Old 01-11-2019, 02:31   #2
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Re: Risk of not checking in, new country / island

It all depends on the country/island. Many of them it would not get noticed. Others it will get noticed with locals possibly letting customs know. Having your boat confiscated or you being charged with smuggling is probably the worst of the side possible side effects.
It also leaves a dirty wake, making it tougher on cruisers who show up after you.
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Old 01-11-2019, 03:44   #3
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Re: Risk of not checking in, new country / island

I did this in Canada by mistake once. Was lucky no one noticed. No reason to risk it in my opinion.
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Old 01-11-2019, 04:01   #4
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Re: Risk of not checking in, new country / island

It's wise to make every reasonable effort, and to have all your papers always in order, as much as it is in your power. I was checked twice by the Mexican navy one time as I cruised Mex. from Roatan, before ever I had a chance to access a check-in location. But my zarpe was in order, and they were reasonable about my being in transit to a check-in facility. I had similar experiences in El Salvador and Panama. No doubt you could blow off checking in and out with impunity over and over again, but the one time you get busted might not be worth all the freebies. Also, as Paul pointed out above, it's bad for the rest of us when cruisers disregard the local laws. We as a group need to maintain a reputation as good, kind, gentle, and respectful people.
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Old 01-11-2019, 04:36   #5
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Re: Risk of not checking in, new country / island

The risk of discovery would obviously depend on the island, time of year, and who else might be around other than officials. The downside could be fines, boat confiscation or even imprisonment and eventual deportation.

In addition to all these possible personal impacts, what you really do is give all cruisers a bad name. It teaches foreign countries that cruisers have no respect for their laws. A response is likely (think “walls”).

I may not agree with the laws of the land I am visiting, but as a guest I still follow them. I have no right to visit a foriegn land. It is a privilege that can be revoked — for all of us.
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Old 01-11-2019, 05:52   #6
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Re: Risk of not checking in, new country / island

Really?

Okay lets take the basics- usually the guys who intentionally avoid clearing in are involved in running drugs or some other nefarious activity. If you fail to clear-in and are not incarcerated, you will instantly be on the local PD's watch list as either a drug-runner or as a .... FWIW, I KNOW of one boat who upset the local customs and had to pay a fine. Should they incarcerate you, it will be in an institution not up to US standards. Then of course we have the issue of the "new guy" in the jail being a rich American on a yacht. Of course while you are in jail awaiting adjudication, no one is watching your boat.

All that said- all of us have arrived at an odd time when customs was closed. I have ALWAYS tried to raise the local authorities on the radio. If I elected to enter a marina, I found the person in charge and explained my situation. The locals know each other and will smooth out any bumps for docking, and having dinner at the marina restaurant without clearing in. I always worked with the local marina owner to arrange to clear in the next day.

If you feel no one runs drugs in small boats anymore- About 2-3 years ago a T-37 was nailed coming into SFLA with a load of marijuana.

Like foreign travel to any country, learn the basics phrases of their language and play by their rules. It makes travel safer, easier and less stress.
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Old 01-11-2019, 07:18   #7
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Re: Risk of not checking in, new country / island

You want to commit a crime, and you're looking for us to tell you that it's okay, because you probably won't get caught. Well, it is NOT OKAY!!!


This is not like going a couple of miles per hour over the speed limit, or rolling through a 4-way stop. Most countries consider customs and immigration violations to be a pretty serious crime. You will not have the U.S. Constitution protecting you. You will be on your own in a foreign country, and it is entirely possible that you will end up in a third-world, rat-hole of a prison. You really think it's worth the risk, no matter what the likelihood of getting caught might be? REALLY!?!
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Old 01-11-2019, 07:38   #8
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Re: Risk of not checking in, new country / island

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Originally Posted by Snore View Post
Really?
Bill is correct. The words here are clear: stupid, wrong, illegal...lot's more.

I absolutely agree with Bill about the value of communication. Even entering the US, one of the more difficult countries to deal with (pre-ROAM), I've found US CBP (well...outside of Florida *sigh*) to be accommodating. If you ask politely they'll approve getting off the boat for showers and even local shopping (depending on transit times). Most officials in most other countries have been similarly accommodating IF YOU ASK. If you flout their laws they get quite unhappy and often offended. That isn't good for you.

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You want to commit a crime, and you're looking for us to tell you that it's okay, because you probably won't get caught. Well, it is NOT OKAY!!!
Agree. The Ugly American exits.
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Old 01-11-2019, 09:39   #9
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Re: Risk of not checking in, new country / island

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Originally Posted by BBViper View Post
Just wondering what the risk would be of sailing to a new country, for example a Caribbean island, and not checking in with customs/immigration, etc. Of not paying fees, going through all the paperwork. Just sailing up to a remote part of an island, hanging on anchor or even going to shore for provisions or restaurant. If no official found out and you moved on to the next island, much of a risk? Certainly if yo were 'discovered' there could be fines and possible confiscation maybe but what is the likelihood of being discovered?
The chances of being caught are slim , there is very little checks on yachts in these islands as the infrastructure is not there , the problem lies if you do not have a leaving permit and enter another country but you can blag it .

As for being a drug runner if you do not register , man, people watching Miami vice re runs


As everything in life there are risks and consequences and the law of the country , it is respectful to obey all laws of each nation you visit , and pay your dues , if you do not and get caught in can be quite harsh , as these are considered serious crimes especially in the colonial Caribbean (in which your question was based on )

Do I condone it , not really my problem I would not do it, but my life is too short to worry about every little mister meaner committed by every one trying to beat the system.
Would I grass you up , no but I would not invite you to my boat either
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Old 01-11-2019, 09:46   #10
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Re: Risk of not checking in, new country / island

Please try it and let us know how it works outs.
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Old 01-11-2019, 09:56   #11
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Re: Risk of not checking in, new country / island

I have arrived at night, anchored, left next morning without going ashore. I think that's legal... ?
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Old 01-11-2019, 10:06   #12
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Re: Risk of not checking in, new country / island

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The chances of being caught are slim, there is very little checks on yachts in these islands as the infrastructure is not there , the problem lies if you do not have a leaving permit and enter another country but you can blag it .
:
For the OP: Why would you even ask such a question?

For everybody else:

Just to help people calibrate their perception of risk... There are a lot of comments on here saying you will never be checked. Well, listen and learn...

In three years and a total of about 9 months in the Bahamas we have been approached by the RBDF three times to check our papers. Once at a remote island anchorage, twice underway. Twice by boarding, once by radio inquiry.

So the idea that nobody in "the islands" is ever going to check is... WRONG!

Many of these islands are very small, and the staff of the immigration/customs office can be counted on one hand. They aren't stupid, and if they look out the window and see a new boat they don't remember checking in swinging on the hook, they know what to do.
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Old 01-11-2019, 10:14   #13
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Re: Risk of not checking in, new country / island

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For the OP: Why would you even ask such a question?

For everybody else:

Just to help people calibrate their perception of risk... There are a lot of comments on here saying you will never be checked. Well, listen and learn...

In three years and a total of about 9 months in the Bahamas we have been approached by the RBDF three times to check our papers. Once at a remote island anchorage, twice underway. Twice by boarding, once by radio inquiry.

So the idea that nobody in "the islands" is ever going to check is... WRONG!

Many of these islands are very small, and the staff of the immigration/customs office can be counted on one hand. They aren't stupid, and if they look out the window and see a new boat they don't remember checking in swinging on the hook, they know what to do.
This is the Bahamas and not what the OP is talking about . the infrastructure there is much more superior
How many times have you been checked in Grenada etc....
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Old 01-11-2019, 10:17   #14
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Re: Risk of not checking in, new country / island

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I have arrived at night, anchored, left next morning without going ashore. I think that's legal... ?
It is often a requirement that you proceed directly to such a port of entry on entering territorial waters. A vessel arriving in a country from outside its customs territory should fly the Q flag until it has been given clearance from the authorities. Even once clearance has been given, some countries may ask to inspect the vessel’s papers periodically, for example at each port of call.

Some countries require you to call them before their territorial waters , as soon as you enter their waters you are effectively entering their country and must follow procedure

How do they know your not smuggling
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Old 01-11-2019, 10:17   #15
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Re: Risk of not checking in, new country / island

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Originally Posted by BBViper View Post
Just wondering what the risk would be of sailing to a new country, for example a Caribbean island, and not checking in with customs/immigration, etc. Of not paying fees, going through all the paperwork. Just sailing up to a remote part of an island, hanging on anchor or even going to shore for provisions or restaurant. If no official found out and you moved on to the next island, much of a risk? Certainly if yo were 'discovered' there could be fines and possible confiscation maybe but what is the likelihood of being discovered?

Just remember, Napoleonic Code, the legal system used by the French and their Islands, has you "gulity until proven inocent", not the same as the British & USA legal systems.
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