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Old 20-11-2015, 05:32   #1
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Entry with US State registration in French Caribbean Islands?

My 34' Tartan is registered in NY State and since I am a German citizen living in the US I can't have the boat documented by the US Coast Guard.

I am planning to visit Guadeloupe and clear in at Deshaies. Will this present a problem? I've heard check-in is via computer and you don't see an official. Will I have to scan a copy of the registration/documentation?
What is the worst that is likely to happen if I only have State registration? Any real life experiences would be most appreciated.
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Old 20-11-2015, 06:35   #2
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Re: Entry with US State registration in French Caribbean Islands?

I have visited 20 countries carrying only a photocopy of a Rhode Island title.

I can possibly see an issue if you are traveling on a German passport with a NY rego. Do you have an ID with the same address as the rego. Try to get a drivers license with the same address.
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Old 20-11-2015, 07:28   #3
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Re: Entry with US State registration in French Caribbean Islands?

I'd go with the papers you have and I'd be surprised if you have a problem. When we've cleared into Martinique and Guadaloupe it is very laid back. They have the computers set up in a business or office usually, you fill the info in on the computer/click print and the person there stamps and signs it and you are done. They've never asked to see my boat papers. Usually a nominal fee of 2-5 Euros.

By comparison the english islands all have more formalities and usually multiple people involved. Clearing out of Jolly Harbour on Antigua I had to go back and forth from Customs, Immigration and the Port Authority.....all three offices right beside each other one sliding door to the next!

Good luck!
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Old 20-11-2015, 07:35   #4
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Re: Entry with US State registration in French Caribbean Islands?

BoatGuy 30:
Did you ever clear into a French Caribbean Island with your RI title? My boat does not even have a title (too old). Just a registration into my name, but with Hull ID number on it. It's about 2x3 inch in size.

I've heard a story where ten years ago a friend of a friend got into trouble for this and had they temporarily locked down his boat and he paid a $5k fine. Sure, that's bar rumor but in the Doyle cruising guide it says as well that vessels over 5 ton (Net?) need federal documentation.

Has anyone recently been asked to produce the actual boat papers at entry?
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Old 20-11-2015, 07:47   #5
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Re: Entry with US State registration in French Caribbean Islands?

Personal experience only covers trips to the Bahamas, Haiti and VI with state registered boat. No problems at all there.

Forum member Jim Cate however has sailed for years all about the south Pacific with only state registration on his boat without a problem. He is a US citizen but not sure if that makes much difference. As long as your name and ID matches the boats papers you are probably OK but maybe good to hear another opinion.
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Old 20-11-2015, 07:55   #6
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Re: Entry with US State registration in French Caribbean Islands?

What with current events, I'd suspect some changes may be in the offing, but when I tried clearing in to Guadeloupe twice, I had to search to find the harbor master to take my papers. A third time I never found him. I had no problems and enjoyed a wonderful trip.

Good luck
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Old 20-11-2015, 08:25   #7
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Re: Entry with US State registration in French Caribbean Islands?

Just remember that Guadaloupe and Martinique are both Departement Outre Mer and are therefore counted as Metropolitan France. This means that they are part of the EU.

As a German citizen you will need to have proof of residence in the US to avoid any potential problems with VAT. Green card, driving licence and other residential documentation should suffice. But as a German citizen you at least do not need any visas nor have any problems with number of days.

I would also suggest brushing up on your basic French. They can be a little funny if the first words out of your mouth are English so a cheery "bonjour! S'il vous plait, je ne parle pas bien Francais parlez vous Anglais?" can make a world of difference. Merci also helps.

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Old 20-11-2015, 08:49   #8
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Re: Entry with US State registration in French Caribbean Islands?

Sailing to foreign countries without a country registration you are relying on the laxness of the officials. It is illegal but somewhat tolerated. Except by the USA.

Some yachts were seized and fines in the thousand dollars were imposed a few years ago. It depends on the official. States of the US are not recognized countries and have no signed international agreements. For examples are boat names unique and traceable to an owner? Is the state going to respond to a request from the country you are entering?

Chances are the non registered yacht will be tolerated. With current events? Who knows.
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Old 20-11-2015, 08:58   #9
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Re: Entry with US State registration in French Caribbean Islands?

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Originally Posted by SaltyTanned View Post
Sailing to foreign countries without a country registration you are relying on the laxness of the officials. It is illegal but somewhat tolerated. Except by the USA.

Some yachts were seized and fines in the thousand dollars were imposed a few years ago. It depends on the official. States of the US are not recognized countries and have no signed international agreements. For examples are boat names unique and traceable to an owner? Is the state going to respond to a request from the country you are entering?

Chances are the non registered yacht will be tolerated. With current events? Who knows.
I have never seen or read anywhere that it is illegal to sail without a "country registration". Do you have any documentation of this? What about documentation of the boats that were seized? Where and when did that happen?

I have to ask, illegal in what way, under what governing body? I know of no international law organization that can pass a law binding to all countries. So would this be by the laws of a specific country one might visit?

Also, in the US the boat names of USCG documented boats are not unique so that point is moot. I have found some boat names repeated over hundred times in the government registry.
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Old 20-11-2015, 09:03   #10
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Re: Entry with US State registration in French Caribbean Islands?

Since your not a US citizen, you can not get your boat documented. Might do that back in Germany. Be aware that your profile may raise questions about your purpose down there. Drug smuggler, ISIL supporter, and so forth come to mind when a foreign national with an undocumented boat from a different country is floating around. The French can be either laid back or hyper uptight about paperwork, at least in our experience.
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Old 20-11-2015, 09:40   #11
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Re: Entry with US State registration in French Caribbean Islands?

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Originally Posted by reed1v View Post
Since your not a US citizen, you can not get your boat documented. Might do that back in Germany. Be aware that your profile may raise questions about your purpose down there. Drug smuggler, ISIL supporter, and so forth come to mind when a foreign national with an undocumented boat from a different country is floating around. The French can be either laid back or hyper uptight about paperwork, at least in our experience.
You are correct that a non citizen in the US cannot document a boat but to say that a state registered vessel with a foreign owner would be looked at as a possible terrorist or smuggler just on that basis is extremely unlikely. As long as the paper work is in order and the owner has proper identification then the worst I can see is a country may not want to accept a state registration instead of USCG documentation and deny entry.
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Old 20-11-2015, 09:59   #12
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Re: Entry with US State registration in French Caribbean Islands?

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Originally Posted by skipmac View Post

Also, in the US the boat names of USCG documented boats are not unique so that point is moot. I have found some boat names repeated over hundred times in the government registry.
While there are many names repeated on US documented vessels, I believe there is a proscription on documenting the same name from the same hailing port. I read that somewhere on the USCG documentation a while back.
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Old 20-11-2015, 10:23   #13
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Re: Entry with US State registration in French Caribbean Islands?

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Originally Posted by crabcake View Post
While there are many names repeated on US documented vessels, I believe there is a proscription on documenting the same name from the same hailing port. I read that somewhere on the USCG documentation a while back.
One would think this would be the case but I have not seen that specifically addressed. So, why not go to the source. Here's what it says on the USCG documentation web site.

There is no rule against duplication of names for documented vessels, so hailing ports are helpful in identifying vessels.

Note that it says hailing ports are helpful but does not say they must be different.
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Old 20-11-2015, 10:32   #14
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Re: Entry with US State registration in French Caribbean Islands?

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Originally Posted by skipmac View Post
One would think this would be the case but I have not seen that specifically addressed. So, why not go to the source. Here's what it says on the USCG documentation web site.

There is no rule against duplication of names for documented vessels, so hailing ports are helpful in identifying vessels.

Note that it says hailing ports are helpful but does not say they must be different.
I stand corrected!
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Old 20-11-2015, 10:39   #15
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Re: Entry with US State registration in French Caribbean Islands?

For what it is worth, my experience checking in to both Martinique and St. Barth was that they were quite relaxed about everything except one thing - The guys at the customs office (I checked in at Marin in martinique and the harbor side office in Gustavia in St. Barth) in both places insisted on ORIGINAL documents from everyone. No copies allowed. I have a federally documented boat so I dont know if a state registration would have sufficed but I watched them send people back to their boats to get the official original copy of what documents they had
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