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Old 22-09-2015, 19:44   #1
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Customs Question

In December, my wife, Kimberly, and I are going back to the BVI to spend the next few months cruising around on our Bavaira 33. We know we'll be spending time around the BVI to start, then going over to Puerto Rico, Culebra and Vieques, then hit up the USVI and back into the BVI before deciding whether to head toward St Martin or going home for the next hurricane season. It all depends on how long we spend in the above mentioned areas.

So, the question is this. When we land at EIS on Tortola, we will be asked how long we plan to be in the BVI. We don't know. What is the right answer in this situation? Yeah, newbie question, but I'm sure we've all been there.
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Old 22-09-2015, 20:04   #2
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Re: Customs Question

As long as you are allowed. It's easier to leave early than to try to extend.
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Old 22-09-2015, 20:58   #3
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Re: Customs Question

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Originally Posted by StuM View Post
As long as you are allowed. It's easier to leave early than to try to extend.
Best I remember the BVI charge per day if you want the right to use the National Parks mooring buoys.
You have to tell them the number of days you plan on staying.
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Old 24-09-2015, 13:54   #4
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Re: Customs Question

The worst thing to answer is "as long you'll let me" at customs. All officers can give you 3 weeks, only more senior ones will stamp you for any longer than that. I've gotten a month before, but had to be very specific on what day I was planning on leaving and how.
The BVI NPT charges are for boats, not people so you won't be charged with 3 weeks NPT if you tell them you want to stay that long. In addition, things are different with a private vessel as opposed to a charter vessel.

If you leave the BVI for the USVI and return that starts your entry permit clock ticking again (and remember that if you sail from the BVI to the USVI then ALL people aboard must be (a) U.S. citizens or LPR or (b) have a valid visa. This includes those from nations which have a visa waiver program).

Since you are flying in, write down a date 3-5 weeks hence on the form and when asked tell them you are sailing to the USVI (or St. Martin) on that day in order to pick up friends that are flying in there.
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Old 24-09-2015, 14:02   #5
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Re: Customs Question

Also note that if you clear into the USVI and then sail on to Puerto Rico (including Vieques and Culebra), you'll need to clear in again since the USVI is a duty-free territory. PR to USVI is no problem.
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Old 24-09-2015, 23:56   #6
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Re: Customs Question

So, it sound like if we land in on December 6th that we'd be good to say something like January 13th or something similar and not really longer?

Also, we sailed the BVI for 3 weeks back in May. Only used buoys for Pirates Bight, Big Harbour and Cooper Island. We anchored everywhere else. Not sure what the NP thing is all about. Anyone care to expand on that a bit?

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Old 25-09-2015, 01:24   #7
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Re: Customs Question

Basically the NPT buoys are going to be any buoys you see that aren't white with some writing about $30 per night on it (and excepting "private" buoys). Here is an excerpt from the NPT document:

Quote:
The Halas System of mooring buoy installation uses a stainless steel pin that is cemented
into the solid bedrock to ensure there is minimal disturbance to the marine ecology. At
the surface, a pick-up line is attached to the buoy. Please check the integrity of the
mooring, its pick-up line and down-line for safety before leaving the vessel. You are
responsible for your vessel, even when tied to a National Parks Trust mooring buoy.
NPT mooring buoys are frequently located in exposed sites, where seas are rough and
unpredictable; or in the vicinity of shallow rocks and reefs. Therefore the moorings are
for day use only and it is illegal to use them overnight.
To use the mooring buoys you are required by law to purchase a National Parks Mooring
Permit, either from your charter company, dive shop, or the National Parks Trust office in
Road Town. Foreign vessels must purchase permits at Customs on Tortola, Virgin Gorda
or Jost Van Dyke upon entry into the territory. This user fee is used for maintenance of
the programme and the installation of new buoys in other areas.
The buoys are 13 in diameter and are colour coded as follows:
 Orange: non-diving, day use only
 Yellow: commercial vessels only
 Large Yellow (35): commercial vessels between 55 - 80ft
 White: diving only
 Blue: dinghy use only
There is a 90-minute time limit on all moorings and use is on a first come, first serve
basis. Vessels between 55ft 80ft are not allowed to use the regular moorings, but they
can use the larger yellow buoys.
These moorings should not be confused with the overnight moorings, which are found in
most anchorages; these are white and are 18 in diameter.
Often private vessels clearing in are not asked about the mooring fees, and if you do a temporary import of the vessel that exempts you from having to pay additional fees. You'll have to do a temporary import (which is valid for one year) if you plan on keeping your boat in the BVI for storage or for a long period. I have yet to see anyone checking up on NPT mooring permits in the BVI - probably because charter boats pay this fee as part of the chartering package and they are the majority of vessels found on those balls.

You can use the overnight balls during the day for free, but the fee collector usually shows up sometime after 4pm and that's when you need to pay over vacate.
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Old 25-09-2015, 08:02   #8
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Re: Customs Question

Just make your best guess, add a few weeks to that, and as long as it does not exceed the maximum time allowed without a long-stay visa you will be fine. If you say one week and then stay three, they don't care. It is only if your time exceeds what is allowed without a long-stay visa that they get a bit cranky about it.

As for the parks permit, that's a different matter, and customs doesn't care at all about that. You can extend that anytime you want, at any of the parks offices (for instance, at the top of The Baths).
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Old 25-09-2015, 12:54   #9
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Re: Customs Question

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...If you say one week and then stay three, they don't care...
Not quite true, if you overstay your entry permit and attempt to clear out or leave the territory you will be very lucky to get away with a hefty fine. If they get really uppity they can impound your vessel and you won't be leaving until matters are sorted out.

No country allows their period of stay rules ignored.

Try overstaying a US visitors permit and you'll get not only a fine but won't be allowed back to the USA for 5 years (and have to petition for permission after that period of time) and the flag on your passport will make travel to other countries problematic as well.
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Old 25-09-2015, 16:11   #10
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Re: Customs Question

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Originally Posted by Zanshin View Post
Not quite true, if you overstay your entry permit and attempt to clear out or leave the territory you will be very lucky to get away with a hefty fine. If they get really uppity they can impound your vessel and you won't be leaving until matters are sorted out.

No country allows their period of stay rules ignored.

Try overstaying a US visitors permit and you'll get not only a fine but won't be allowed back to the USA for 5 years (and have to petition for permission after that period of time) and the flag on your passport will make travel to other countries problematic as well.
That's assuming that they issue the entry permit for the period you state you are going to stay. Most places that I visit, the entry permit is always for a 30 day, 3 month or whatever the standard period is regardless of whether I say I intend to stay for a few days or a few weeks.
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Old 25-09-2015, 16:31   #11
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Re: Customs Question

I forgot about this. Our first visit to the BVI was to Virgin Gorda for a one day trip and they stamped us for one day. The next was for 3 weeks plus one day, but they only stamped us 3 weeks. We asked about the extra day and they said one day over would be fine.

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Old 25-09-2015, 17:01   #12
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Re: Customs Question

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That's assuming that they issue the entry permit for the period you state you are going to stay...
In the BVI they issue you an entry permit for exactly the number of days or up to the departure date that you state. No more, no less. Well, it will be less if they deem it too long; that has happened to me before - I requested 4 weeks and they only stamped me for 3. It is possible to extend one's sojourn and I've done so in Road Town and on Virgin Gorda and both times it was a very big hassle and next time I need to do it I will just take a ferry to the USVI for a day.
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