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Old 15-12-2015, 15:39   #1
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Moving between the British and US Virgin Islands

My wife and I have chartered a 40 foot monohull for the month of March 2016. We pickup the vessel in Roadtown in the BVIs but intend to go from there to the US Virgins and even on to Culebra off of Puerto Rico. My expectation has been that we'd go into St Thomas with the boat and go to the customs office to get the needed documents (stamps in our passports?) then move freely on to St John, St Croix, Culebra, etc.. Am I correct in assuming that this is how it's done?

Your help would be very much appreciated.
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Old 15-12-2015, 15:48   #2
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Re: Moving between the British and US Virgin Islands

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Originally Posted by Gamechanger View Post
My wife and I have chartered a 40 foot monohull for the month of March 2016. We pickup the vessel in Roadtown in the BVIs but intend to go from there to the US Virgins and even on to Culebra off of Puerto Rico. My expectation has been that we'd go into St Thomas with the boat and go to the customs office to get the needed documents (stamps in our passports?) then move freely on to St John, St Croix, Culebra, etc.. Am I correct in assuming that this is how it's done?

Your help would be very much appreciated.
We always used to check in at Cruz Bay when going from BVI to USVI. Everyone has to report in person.
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Old 21-12-2015, 12:03   #3
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Re: Moving between the British and US Virgin Islands

It's been a few years since I've been down, but yes, clearing in at St John was easier than St Thomas.

Also, check with your charter agent, you may need a special insurance rider to take a charter boat out of the VI's and over to PR.
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Old 21-12-2015, 12:14   #4
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Re: Moving between the British and US Virgin Islands

When I sailed a Mooring's boat from the BVIs to Culebra, that's exactly what I did. I imagine your charter base will be able to tell you if any of their rules or custom's protocols have in any way changed.

In my case, insurance was not an issue, but their guaranteed support no longer applied outside their normal cruising grounds. Again, consult your charter base. One thing I would recommend is sending them an email so you have it in writing.
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Old 21-12-2015, 12:44   #5
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Re: Moving between the British and US Virgin Islands

Clearing in at Cruz Bay on St. John is fast, efficient and the folks there are courteous. The only time it can take a while to clear in is if a ferry has just arrived and the passengers are being cleared in. There's a small area for you to anchor while clearing in, but the water is shallow and most likely there won't be any room, so take a mooring ball just around the headland and dinghy in to complete formalities.
Unless you are U.S. citizens, LPR or (I believe) Canadian citizens you will need a visa to clear into the USA via private vessel. See Pleasure Boats - Procedures for entering the U.S. for details.
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Old 21-12-2015, 13:16   #6
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Re: Moving between the British and US Virgin Islands

We explored the option of BVI to St. John last summer. As I recall, we would have been required to check out of BVI at Soper's Hole then into Cruz Bay, St. Johns. It wasn't worth our time as we just wanted to anchor on the north shore of St. Johns.
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Old 21-12-2015, 16:24   #7
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Re: Moving between the British and US Virgin Islands

We leave our boat in Puerto Rico and we are required to call CBP when we return to PR from the US Virgins as we have a Local Boater Option decal other wise would have to get to the airport in Culebra to clear! Charter company should know


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Old 22-12-2015, 11:56   #8
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Re: Moving between the British and US Virgin Islands

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...we are required to call CBP when we return to PR from the US Virgins...
Huh? That doesn't make sense. You are not crossing any borders. Just going from one part of the United States to another part of the United States.
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Old 22-12-2015, 12:01   #9
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Re: Moving between the British and US Virgin Islands

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Huh? That doesn't make sense. You are not crossing any borders. Just going from one part of the United States to another part of the United States.
You're transiting customs zones when moving from USVI to PR. This is why you must go through customs when departing by air from STT for points in the US.

I second (or third) the preference to check in at Cruz Bay instead of Charlotte Amalie. However, Cruz Bay is a little shallow for us and is often crowded besides. We have found it best to pick up a (park service) mooring in Caneel Bay and dinghy around to Cruz Bay.
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Old 22-12-2015, 12:03   #10
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Re: Moving between the British and US Virgin Islands

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Huh? That doesn't make sense. You are not crossing any borders. Just going from one part of the United States to another part of the United States.
Yes, it does make sense. The USVI are a special Customs territory (think of it as a duty-free zone). Therefore there are some border controls when arriving in the USVI from the 48 states or PR.

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Old 22-12-2015, 12:11   #11
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Re: Moving between the British and US Virgin Islands

Just did this last Saturday. When you get to BVI tell them you are sailing to the US and they will check you in and out at the same time so you wont have to stop at Soapers Hole. Go to Cruz Bay St John to clear into US customs. Busy Bay so take extra time, lots of ferry traffic. Then you can sail USVI and on up to the SVI. YOU DO NOT NEED TO CLEAR OUT OF USVI to go to the SVI. Then when you return, go to Soapers Hole or Jost Van Dyke to enter BVI again. Jost is eaiser.

I just sailed there for two weeks and that was the required procedure.
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Old 22-12-2015, 12:16   #12
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Re: Moving between the British and US Virgin Islands

You have to clear into the SVI's separately from the USVI clearance. With a BVI based boat with out a customs decal and or non us citizens, you will have to go to the airport in Culebra in person and pay the fee and clear into the SVI's. You will not have to clear back into the USVI upon return to the USVI from the SVI's but you will have to clear back into the BVI's upon return there.

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Old 22-12-2015, 14:33   #13
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Re: Moving between the British and US Virgin Islands

Great info that will indeed be very helpful. Much appreciated and thanks to all.
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Old 24-12-2015, 08:09   #14
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Re: Moving between the British and US Virgin Islands

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You're transiting customs zones when moving from USVI to PR.
Obviously I did not know that. Thanks for clearing it up.
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