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Old 01-02-2015, 05:07   #1
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Customs & Immigration - USVI

Hello Gang,

After considerable wasted time and effort, we cannot ascertain the exact terms for C & I entry into USVI.

We'll check in by sea so obviously have some provisions with us, what is required? Do we really need to ditch all fruits, meats etc? What if we anchor?

Secondly, I am Canadian so I should not require a Visa. My GF is French and she does require ESTA, which she's had for some years.

The boat is French registered listed under joint names.

Any facts would be appreciated.

Thank you.
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Old 01-02-2015, 05:38   #2
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Re: Customs & Immigration - USVI

Most of what you need to know can be found here - Noonsite is an excellent source of information.

US Virgin Islands — Noonsite

Enjoy the Virgin Islands US and British
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Old 01-02-2015, 05:55   #3
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Re: Customs & Immigration - USVI

ESTA does not count when entering the USA via boat, she will need to get a tourist visa.
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Old 01-02-2015, 05:56   #4
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Re: Customs & Immigration - USVI

Quote:
My GF is French and she does require ESTA, which she's had for some years.
Than she will need a US B1/B2 visa if she enters by 'pleasure boat' afik.

Carsten
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Old 01-02-2015, 06:01   #5
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Re: Customs & Immigration - USVI

Sorry, I should have added something important:


The two of you can sail into and clear into the British Virgin Islands, for Canadians and French there are no visas required. From Soper's Hole your wife can take a ferry to Cruz Bay in St. John for about $35 and less than an hour's ride. You clear the boat out at Soper's hole and sail singlehanded to pick up a mooring ball at Caneel Bay and drive the dinghy to the Customs and Immigration office in Cruz Bay, where your wife can join you after you clear in.
The officers in the Cruz Bay office are friendly and professional. But the are adamant about foreigners knowing the visa rules and told me that, depending upon how the person acts, they either let them off with a verbal warning and send them to the BVI or, if things don't go so well, they make formal entries in the system and send the boat with crew packing to the BVI. And those who have 'marks' in the system are noted as having been refused entry into the USA and might be prohibited from entering the USA for then next 5 years (worst case) or get put into secondary inspection every time they enter (best case).
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Old 01-02-2015, 06:15   #6
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Re: Customs & Immigration - USVI

We just checked into St Thomas and were not asked about any agricultural items. We're Americans, but a German couple next to use weren't asked about that either.
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Old 01-02-2015, 06:17   #7
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Re: Customs & Immigration - USVI

Hello Gents,

Thanks for the information. I will check noonsite.

Cheers,
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Old 01-02-2015, 06:24   #8
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Re: Customs & Immigration - USVI

Quote:
Originally Posted by Zanshin View Post
Sorry, I should have added something important:


The two of you can sail into and clear into the British Virgin Islands, for Canadians and French there are no visas required. From Soper's Hole your wife can take a ferry to Cruz Bay in St. John for about $35 and less than an hour's ride. You clear the boat out at Soper's hole and sail singlehanded to pick up a mooring ball at Caneel Bay and drive the dinghy to the Customs and Immigration office in Cruz Bay, where your wife can join you after you clear in.
The officers in the Cruz Bay office are friendly and professional. But the are adamant about foreigners knowing the visa rules and told me that, depending upon how the person acts, they either let them off with a verbal warning and send them to the BVI or, if things don't go so well, they make formal entries in the system and send the boat with crew packing to the BVI. And those who have 'marks' in the system are noted as having been refused entry into the USA and might be prohibited from entering the USA for then next 5 years (worst case) or get put into secondary inspection every time they enter (best case).
Thanks Zanshin. Well noted.
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Old 01-02-2015, 08:29   #9
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Re: Customs & Immigration - USVI

When I cleared in at Cruz Bay, they always asked if we had fruits, vegetables or garbage. If you say "Yes", you will have to bring it all in for special disposal. We were careful not to have anything prohibited on board just to avoid the hassle.
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Old 01-02-2015, 09:30   #10
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Re: Customs & Immigration - USVI

Quote:
Originally Posted by Eleuthera 2014 View Post
Hello Gang,

After considerable wasted time and effort, we cannot ascertain the exact terms for C & I entry into USVI.

We'll check in by sea so obviously have some provisions with us, what is required? Do we really need to ditch all fruits, meats etc? What if we anchor?
Most countries will not let you bring in your own fruit and meat unless you are a registered importer, and the USVI are not exception to that.

That said, in the US the enforcement of this is to the USDA, and in my most recent trips to the USVI there was no USDA agent there.

This does not make a difference to me because I understand the reason for those rules and follow them anyway.

Another story is that if the USDA agent is there they may tell about the nonsense rules about trash. Apparently all the trash brought in a foreign boat or generated by it while inside the US needs to be "destroyed" at a certified place (such as the ones at airports), of which there are none around in the USVI. I went through this nonsense a couple of years ago. Now I go into the US without any trash to avoid risk of hassle.

On another topic, Zanshin is (as usual) spot on regarding the ESTA workaround. I checked a couple of months ago in Cruz Bay and that workaround still works.
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Old 01-02-2015, 09:43   #11
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Re: Customs & Immigration - USVI

Does that workaround work if the skipper and crew don't have visas and are Australian and French? Obviously we would both need to catch the ferry then return to pickup the boat. Any problems clearing in the boat with esta visa stamps?
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Old 01-02-2015, 10:01   #12
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Re: Customs & Immigration - USVI

A helpful hint on this aspect:

Quote:
Originally Posted by svlamorocha View Post
Most countries will not let you bring in your own fruit and meat unless you are a registered importer, and the USVI are not exception to that.
Once upon clearing in at Cruz Bay the agent asked whether we had any fruits, veggies, meats. Yes, we had stuff we had brought from home in the US. Apparently he sensed our honesty and believed it was for our personal consumption (we were not importers) and didn't request anything else, but advised us we should take precautions to be able to prove any food stuffs came from the US. Since then we have kept grocery receipts and when re-packaging any items in vacuum bags we have included labels, etc from the original package in the vacuum bag. For example, when vacuuming meats for freezing we include the label from the original store package so it can be read through the vacuum bag.

2 Hulls Dave
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Old 01-02-2015, 11:22   #13
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Re: Customs & Immigration - USVI

All great info as expected from informed cruisers... I will contribute to the data info once we get going.

Many thanks.
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Old 01-02-2015, 11:24   #14
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Re: Customs & Immigration - USVI

Quote:
Originally Posted by monte View Post
Does that workaround work if the skipper and crew don't have visas and are Australian and French? Obviously we would both need to catch the ferry then return to pickup the boat. Any problems clearing in the boat with esta visa stamps?
I was told, by an immigration official on St. Thomas, that those without a visa could ferry into the USVI, get an entry stamp, then return via ferry to the BVI and then perform outbound BVI clearance and inbound USVI clearance that way. This was about 2 years ago, but recently I was informed on this forum that this method no longer is valid. I strongly suggest that you call the USVI offices directly to get their current rulings.

I mentioned the sailing method because the OP, as a Canadian, is exempt from the visa rules that bind other foreign nationals.
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Old 01-02-2015, 13:16   #15
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Re: Customs & Immigration - USVI

Don't bring any Roquefort Cheese or Cadburys chocolate ....
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