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Old 25-03-2012, 09:48   #1
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How Does It All Work ?

It may sound like a silly question, but how does immigration work on a private boat in the caribbean? For example, if I wanted to live on a boat, but stay anchored off the coast of an island, do I need full residency? How does the costoms office track if someone is entering or leaving? Can't people just anchor in a protected spot where people don't see them? Do the rules change if you are in a marina? Any other explainations would be great! Thanks
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Old 25-03-2012, 10:03   #2
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Re: How does it all work?

I think eventually someone will catch on. You enter the country as a tourist, they will give you permission to stay for set period of time.... maybe 90 days to 6 months. You then may have to leave... but you could sail to next island, check in and out and then return for another stay.... there are ways to work the system. But why not move around...?
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Old 25-03-2012, 10:07   #3
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Re: How does it all work?

Go to noonsite.com, look up the SPECIFIC NATION you are interested in, and find out their regulations. For how long you can enter with or without a visa, and whether "residency" of any kind is allowed. In many places you will find that it doesn't matter if you are on a boat or not, you've got xx months and then you are gone. Unless you marry a local or bring in substantial investments.
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Old 25-03-2012, 10:11   #4
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Re: How does it all work?

I would call the country itself or look it up on their website...if they have one. Second hand information can be inaccurate from the beginning or become inaccurate over time.
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Old 25-03-2012, 10:37   #5
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Re: How does it all work?

Thanks for the quick responses! Another question is how long do you have to wait between leaving and coming back as a tourist?
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Old 25-03-2012, 10:52   #6
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Re: How does it all work?

Quote:
Originally Posted by caribcruiser View Post
Thanks for the quick responses! Another question is how long do you have to wait between leaving and coming back as a tourist?
Same answer as to the first question. Every country is different. Some you can leave for one day and come back. Others you have to leave for 6 months before you can come back.

To all similar questions, there is no standard policy for any of these for any countries, not even those right next door to each other. Some are easy to visit, some are hard. Some charge a fee to visit which can be several hundred dollars, some charge nothing at all. Some let you stay a long time, some let you stay a couple of weeks. Some require visas, prior notice and lots of paperwork before you arrive or you are fined, some you just show up and they are happy to see you.

The only way to know the answer to any question about a country and the regulations it to research that country.
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Old 25-03-2012, 12:18   #7
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Re: How does it all work?

When you enter any country (when you anchor at any of their islands, inhabited or otherwise), you are supposed to check in with the customs and emigration (in some countries there are more than just these two). If you fail to do so, you are in the danger zone and if you get caught you will be penalized. Check in first, anchor second.

The penalty will vary from a mean look from the authority officer to possible loss of the boat.

Alas, some islands are slack with some flags/passports - at times we will anchor somewhere first, especially if we arrive late. In such a case we keep the Q up until we clear in - to avoid any of the authorities thinking we are trying to avoid their watchful eye.

Re the second question - some countries let you stay for extended periods of time, then you sail out for a day ... then you are welcome back. Others do not. Best ask the local immigration / customs officers. Once in a country, such know-how is obtained from other sailors BUT should always be checked against the official sources.

I hope your questions are theoretical ones. In any case, avoid any moves that may be read as suspicious by local authorities. Otherwise you may be exposing yourself to trouble and other sailors to the risk of being thrown all into the same bag.

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Old 27-03-2012, 23:40   #8
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Re: How Does It All Work ?

There would be a bit of tolerance for "port of refuge" situations where a bona fide, genuine, actual, provable storm, breakdown, etc., forces you to seek whatever port you can, even if it's not a designated port of entry -- but, again, some countries are much more tolerant than others. And there might be some tolerance of weirdness in friendly border areas, such as clearing in and out of the USA and Canada in the Pacific NW, where the border is a bit complex. A big issue with NOT clearing in as promptly as is feasible is that you might be mistaken for a drug runner, smuggler, or some other illegal enterprise...
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Old 28-03-2012, 03:46   #9
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Re: How Does It All Work ?

It's pretty easy to live on your boat here in the eastern Caribbean. Each of the countries has a time limit for the visitors visa that you'll get when you clear in. They will generally ask you how long you intend to stay when you clear in. Most have a 30 day maximum, then you can apply for a renewal. The renewal isn't automatic, and you will be asked a lot of questions about your intent, work status, financial resources, etc., before it's granted or not.

You really don't need to worry about the hassle, though, because you can just up-anchor and sail to the next country. They're almost all just a day-sail apart.
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