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Old 09-07-2011, 11:09   #1
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The Paperwork

Everyone has to begin a journey at zero. My journey to sailing the south Pacific has begun, and I am at about marker 1.5 with ten thousand more things to do. I am taking classes, reading everything I can find on tons of subjects, out on sailboats pulling lines, varnishing, and observing. I have a very long way to go, but I am looking forward to this journey before the real adventure.
One of the things that has me concerned is the “paperwork”. Dealing with different country's and third world legal stuff. On the blogs some folks seem to have no problem with it while others have nightmare stories.
What docs do boaters need when entering foreign water ?
What is the process?
How dose one find out the local legal before you go?
How does one know where to avoid?
What fees are their?
I am not looking for the horror stories, I want to hear from the folks that have it all together and breeze though the process.
Thanks
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Old 09-07-2011, 12:23   #2
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Can't give you any RT experiences, but for the legal info, you will be looking at Noonsite dot com. It breaks down entry requirements by country for yachters. It's an excellent source of information.
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Old 09-07-2011, 12:23   #3
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Re: The paperwork

Like navigation marks, it becomes clear when you need to know. Clearing in and clearing out, is just a matter of dealing with Customs and Immigration in each country. You'll hear from those who ahve gone before what to expect in the next country. Have lots of color copies of your ship's papers, your passports and go for it. Some countries make it easy, some make it harder but it's always doable. There's lots more stuff to worry about, this isn't one of them,
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Old 09-07-2011, 12:27   #4
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Re: The paperwork

If you are leaving from the west coast, bumoko, you are probably considerering the 'milk run' across from southern Mexico. In Mexico, besides passports for all concerned, you will need either state registration docs or USCG documentation, crew lists, radio licenses, particularly if you have HF capability and fishing licenses for all aboard. You will need about 20 copies of each except passports. I found it handy to have a hand stamp and pad with your vessel name, doc number and vessel type with a blank for a date to be filled in when you stamp all copies of the documents in front of the Port Captain, Immigration Officer or other Marinaro Official, including marina operators. For some reason, the authorities put some stock in stamping documents.
When you present yourself to officials, I suggest you wear clean clothes, be showered, hair combed and look presentable. I make this suggestion based on my personal experience in dealing with Mexican Port officials many times. i can't tell you the number of times I've gone to the Port Captain to present my documents dressed in clean shorts, my skippers shirt with bars and my Capt's hat. I went to the front of the line almost every time ahead of the scruffy guys in an old t shirt, flipflops and two weeks of growth on his chin. Respect begets respect.
As you get in to the South Pacific, you will find a similar requirement from French authorities. Visas, cruising permits are necessary in addition to the other documents and must be obtained at specific ports. They are time dated to allow you to cruise their waters. Check on the internet for where to pick up your permit, costs and the time duration.
Islands like Tonga are much more permissive but check because things change from year to year for no particular reason as do the fees and permit costs.
Good luck in your cruising adventure... Capt Phil
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Old 09-07-2011, 12:34   #5
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Stamp and pad...excellent idea. What size is good?
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Old 09-07-2011, 15:02   #6
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Re: The paperwork

My stamp is 45 mm in diameter and has boat name, registered number and country.
The more 'official' it looks the better, so no silly slogans like "Cruisn 'Ol Farts"
Its more needed in Asia and the Arab countries.
There is no necessity for a boat stamp at all, but in some countries they are very impressed by it and you happily stamp a million pages. Its bizarre.

The more authoritarian the country the tighter the police where their trousers.
The more disorganized the country the more stamps they use on paperwork!

Now to the OP in general:

Registration papers, passports, crew list - just type one out and prit it off but only stamp it and sign with a big flourish when in front of the official.

Also needed is the clearance forms from the last country so don't chuck them overboard. In some countries they call it a Zarpe (pron Zar-pay), or exit certificate, or onward clearance, sometimes Harbour Clearance etc.
Usually its the Harbour Masters office that gives them but sometimes Immigration.

The 3 offices you normally need to see at Harbour Masters, Customs and Immigration. They may be in the same location but sometimes splattered about the town/city.

Normally there is a set order you need to visit each office.... but that varies too! Often Harbour Master first clearing in and last clearing out.

The photo of a page attached below shows you some of the types of questions you must answer truthfully. WITH A STRAIGHT FACE!!!!!!!!
The funniest one I've seen was: "How many people died on your voyage? Is this normal?"
But if you say What a stupid question, they get very upset... LOL


Keep old paperwork. If you are honest there's no reason to hide where you have been.
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Old 09-07-2011, 17:08   #7
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Re: The paperwork

MarkJ has it precisely correct. Years ago someone turned me on to the stamp and pad and I had mine made in San Diego. Just the boat name, doc number and tonnage as I recall with a space in the middle for the date and signature to be completed in front of the official you are dealing with. I also had a seal with the same info but that cost about $30, l think.
When you are dealing with officials in foreign countries, you'll find different things will impress them and put you on more of an even, professional level as they are. Cleanliness and neatness counts for a lot in the officialdom of every country I've visited.
My stamp was about the same size as MarkJ's, perhaps a little smaller because I've not done ATW... Capt Phil
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Old 09-07-2011, 17:36   #8
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Re: The paperwork

news flash-- they no longwr ask for vhf licensure....... fishing license yes. liability insurance, yes... but most of the stuff is able to be done there in the customs house if you go to ensenada.
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Old 09-07-2011, 17:48   #9
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Re: The paperwork

Thanks for the update Zee'... I thought the Mexican authorities still wanted to see your license for SSB and ham radio if you had one. That's the one that goes with the boat as the station and not the operator. About 5 years ago, they asked me to get one in Ensenada about 3 blocks behind where the museum is. I think it cost around 4000 pesos... could be wrong though... cheers, Capt Phil
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Old 09-07-2011, 17:53   #10
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Re: The paperwork

they may still request ham if you have one--i dont, so i wasnt included in that party.
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Old 09-07-2011, 18:03   #11
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Re: The paperwork

I'm not certain what the radio licensing requirements are in the South Pacific. I do know that there were parts of the world where radio transmitting ability has to be declared at the point of check-in... CP
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Old 09-07-2011, 21:05   #12
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Re: The paperwork

Quote:
Originally Posted by Capt Phil View Post
My stamp was about the same size as MarkJ's, perhaps a little smaller because I've not done ATW... Capt Phil

LOL I will go order a bigger one!!

And some silver or gold reflective postage type stamps. They love that sort of crap. The funniest thing is when you pretentiously whack one done they respect it.
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Old 09-07-2011, 21:48   #13
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Re: The paperwork

Order some ribbons and hot wax while you're at it, Mark... cheers, CP
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Old 09-07-2011, 23:14   #14
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Re: The paperwork

Thanks, this is the information I was looking for.
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Old 10-07-2011, 00:21   #15
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Re: The paperwork

Quote:
Originally Posted by zeehag View Post
news flash-- they no longwr ask for vhf licensure....... fishing license yes. liability insurance, yes... but most of the stuff is able to be done there in the customs house if you go to ensenada.
Depends on the country. We have been required to show our VHF (ship's radio license) several times. Now in our 6th year cruising and have visited 47 countries. Have been asked for the radio license only twice.

We have never been asked about a fishing license but have also not cruised Mexican waters.

As for the boat stamp, get a self-inking one and a tiny bottle of the re-inking liquid (should last at least a decade if properly sealed after use) and forget the old-fashioned ink pad. Even better if the stamp states "Official Seal" along with boat name and official number. BTW, forget state registration. Many countries do not recognize state registration for a US vessel. Instead, have your boat US documented. Every foreign country recognizes that.

You can also save yourself a lot of time later if you make a full list of every electronic item on the boat by brand name, model number and serial number. Also list every item you can think of that is part of the boat -- including maximum cruising speed under engine power and nonsense like that.

Oh, and don't forget the dinghy and the outboard and the liferaft. Many countries want that info also. Also will want to know how much fuel capacity and water capacity of your boat. It is really convenient to have all this info organized on one list.

Also make copies of you boat insurance. Many countries have required that piece of paper.

As for gifts for officials, many collect those shoulder/arm patches of police and sheriff's departments. Sometimes you can buy these at a local police uniform shop. These take up no space or weight on your boat and sometimes make a nice inexpensive "gift" when clearing into a country.

Judy
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