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Old 12-03-2008, 18:15   #1
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Customs Requirements Going from BVI to USVI Anchorages

I tried searching but wasn't having much luck. I am a US citizen and will be chartering a sailboat from Tortola so I will be checked into the BVI. Now, can I legally anchor in a bay on St. John for 1 evening if I don't go ashore? Can I go to Charlotte Amalie on St. Thomas for a few hours to go shopping without checking in? Back to BVI after that.

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Old 12-03-2008, 19:12   #2
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I think the company that you are chartering with will give you the most appropriate advice
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Old 12-03-2008, 19:49   #3
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Hi,
I have done this crossing, both directions, several times the past couple of years. The short answer is that you must check in, and all your boatmates accompany you, to go into the USVI from the BVI and check out before you leave the BVI's. If you are US citizens, you do not need to check out of the USVI's to return to the BVI's. My personal choice is to check into and out of the BVI's at Soper's Hole, very professional and friendly. US customs is less friendly and more bored.

The longer answer is that you could probably get away with sliding over to Leinster Bay on St. John to snorkel Waterlemon Cay or even spend the night without being shot by the Coast Guard. Charlotte Amalie is quite a haul, in charter terms, from Soper's and an even longer haul back as it will be dead upwind. If you want to shop, take the ferry. Even better, fly out of St. Thomas and take a night or two at the Hotel 1829 before you go.

Have fun.
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Old 13-03-2008, 05:09   #4
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It's getting more and more difficult to sneak in between the BVI and USVI. Years ago it was more common. A boat got caught last year and fined $30,000 or something like that. Not worth the risk. Lately the USCG has been "assisting" BVI authorities in checking on boats by accompanying them. If you want to go to St. Thomas to shop take one of the ferries.
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Old 13-03-2008, 05:43   #5
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The law requires you to clear in to the USVI as soon as possible after anchoring or picking up a mooring .

Most convenient is to clear out of BVI (West End on Tortola), and clear in in Cruz Bay on St John. It's crowded in Cruz Bay, so pick up a mooring in Caneel Bay and dinghy around through the ferry wakes and chop. As stated, everyone on board must "present themselves for inspection" at the customs office. All told, it will probably take a minimum of two hours in Cruz Bay, plus what you spend at West End.

Good way to kill a half day of your charter.
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Old 14-03-2008, 05:55   #6
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So as you go from place to place (country to country) you need to check out of one and into the other? I didn't realize that...ignornace on my part I suppose. Does it cost money to do this or do they just want to know you're there? Do they stamp your passport or anything like that?
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Old 14-03-2008, 06:05   #7
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Noonsite usually has up-to-date info, see here: Noonsite: US Virgin Islands
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Old 14-03-2008, 16:02   #8
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Thanks for all the responses, I called the charter company and they pretty much said what others here said. They also said that if I was planning on leaving the BVI they need to know in advance so they could prepare special paperwork I would need as well.

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Old 15-03-2008, 03:49   #9
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So as you go from place to place (country to country) you need to check out of one and into the other? I didn't realize that...ignornace on my part I suppose. Does it cost money to do this or do they just want to know you're there? Do they stamp your passport or anything like that?
They all stamp your passport when entering, and some stamp it when you clear out. The fees vary by country, but are not excessive, by most folks' standards. For example, Nevis will charge you about $12 US for a stay up to 30 days. I think the BVI are the most expensive, followed by Dutch St Maarten.
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Old 29-03-2008, 14:04   #10
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I have also searched and attempted to locate the information on how you can "call in" a clearance when moving between BVI and USVI for American Citizens... I know I have seen it some place here but the search system just pulls up far too much. It need some boolean algebra operators.

Can anyone point me in the right direction... think it is part of the "frequent" cruiser program the gov set up a while back.

Getting into and out of Cruze Bay is a real pain.
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Old 29-03-2008, 14:16   #11
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Reality Check,

Last time I cleared in at Cruz Bay, the Customs Officer told me that "everyone on board must report to the Customs Office for inspection." No phoning in allowed. I had to dinghy back to Caneel Bay to pick up my wife and bring her in "for inspection". She passed muster!

You can phone in when you clear in to Puerto Rico (including Culebra), as long as you have a current US Customs sticker.

It's been three years, so maybe it's different now.
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Old 29-03-2008, 15:59   #12
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Reality Check,

Last time I cleared in at Cruz Bay, the Customs Officer told me that "everyone on board must report to the Customs Office for inspection." No phoning in allowed. I had to dinghy back to Caneel Bay to pick up my wife and bring her in "for inspection". She passed muster!
Interesting. When I cleared at Roche Harbor in the San Juans last May, I was told in no-uncertain terms that my crew was to remain on aboard. Of course, that was at a dock, and the Officer came on onboard to interview everyone. I had made the mistake of indicating that I was a sailing instructor. It was a pleasure trip. He quizzed me about how I had met my partner. When he interviewed her onboard, she gave him the same answer. I was sure he was checking to see if I was working on this trip. I avoid going to the San Juans on cruise-and-learns. One day I need to figure out what paperwork is necessary. The San Juans are much too nice to pass up.

Jack
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Old 30-03-2008, 14:44   #13
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Originally Posted by DaveS View Post
I tried searching but wasn't having much luck. I am a US citizen and will be chartering a sailboat from Tortola so I will be checked into the BVI. Now, can I legally anchor in a bay on St. John for 1 evening if I don't go ashore? Can I go to Charlotte Amalie on St. Thomas for a few hours to go shopping without checking in? Back to BVI after that.

Thanks,
Dave
Here's a response on the same subject in a different thread:
How Far Before Clearing Out ?

I think the folks recommending a ferry make a lot of sense...
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Old 30-03-2008, 15:14   #14
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Here's a response on the same subject in a different thread:
How Far Before Clearing Out ?

I think the folks recommending a ferry make a lot of sense...

I do too and that's the plan if someone wants to go to St. Thomas..... it would take up too much vacation time to sail there.

Thanks,
Dave
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Old 30-03-2008, 15:49   #15
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I do too and that's the plan if someone wants to go to St. Thomas..... it would take up too much vacation time to sail there.

Thanks,
Dave
Too much time for a day sail. But if you were going to stay a while, that's a different story. I've been to St. Thomas several times (not by boat). It's a beautiful island. Charlotte Amalie is a busy town and it has a great bazaar with vendors when cruise ships are in. The East end is also very nice. Red Hook is a nice little town with good restaurants.

- Jake
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