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Old 06-03-2012, 18:15   #1
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International Port Calls

Could anyone describe the general routine for visiting a nation onboard a yacht ? For example, what must be done in terms of customs and etc.

I know my question is very broad, sorry about that.


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Old 06-03-2012, 18:25   #2
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Re: International Port Calls

Customs clearance is usually a matter of checking in at the appropriate customs office. Generally each country has its own procedures so it is best to call ahead before arriving to make sure of the routine and what documents you will need. A good place to start is Noonsite:


click on the country you wish to visit and then on the left go to formalities.

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Old 06-03-2012, 18:50   #3
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Re: International Port Calls

Noonsite is a very good starting point. The range from one country to another is remarkable. In the French islands in Caribbean you sit down at a computer (sometimes in a gift shop) and fill our a form. Costs zero to 5 euros. In some countries you need to visit 3 or 4 different offices (customs, immigration, port captain, health/quarantine office. It can cost more than $500 for everything. In some places you must hire an agent to do it for you, while in some places you have to check in to different offices when you move within the country.

Just go to learn how to do it, fill in all the forms (some forms look like they are from 150 years ago -- eg "How many crew died of plague on the voyage?" on one form. Pay the money, be polite and smile.
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Old 06-03-2012, 19:10   #4
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Re: International Port Calls

Hi Walloon, & Welcome to Cruisers Forum! As Įstriš says, every country is different. But most have you clear Customs & Immigration. Sometimes there's Port Captain as well, &/or others. Noonsite is a good place for that sort of info. We also try to provide similar but more detailed info in our Cruisers Info section, but only for the places we've been to.

The only place we've had to notify them in advance is Australia, & they will actually overfly you several hundred miles out to sea. We've only needed visas in advance for Australia, Indonesia, India & Brazil, but that depends on what passport you use.

The process of clearing in varies widely, but usually takes a day or so of walking around to the various offices. Or sometimes they come to you. Everywhere's different.

Three things can help:
  1. Have a boat-stamp made up (should cost ~$10, just design your own, something simple but with boat name, & number)
  2. Pre-print several crew-lists (boat name, number, home port, gross & net weights, etc, crew names, passport numbers, birth-dates, birthplaces, etc).
  3. Have LOTS of passport sized photos of you & the crew ready if necessary.
Most boats will have an inkjet printer on board to make your own crew-lists &/or photos, but we found the inks dry up & clog the holes. So after throwing 2 away we bought a small laser printer. We've found that the scanner/copier function is well worth the extra price, especially when dealing with officious officialdom.
-- Jon Hacking s/v Ocelot
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Old 06-03-2012, 19:47   #5
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Re: International Port Calls

G'day, Mate. Welcome aboard. New Zealand also requires advanced notification of your arrival (typically through email correspondence). Most cruisers do this before they leave their various port in Tonga, Fiji, Vanuatu, New Calendonia, etc. to head south.
Like Australia, you may get overflown, or in some cases, boarded at sea by Customs as you approach the coastline. Oh, and don't forget to put the Q (yellow) flag up in the rigging when you enter the bay.

At this point, New Zealand remains one of the few that has no fees for clearing Customs and your initial 3 month tourist visa from Immigration. Cheers.
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