I am going to try to clear things up a bit but even within the BVI government
things are about as clear as a New England fog
so take all of this with a grain of salt
First, the $4 cruising fee is for crewed charter and bareboats only. Private boats may remain in the BVI for up to 30 days by paying only the entry fee which I believe is $15 and a $4/person departure tax. If you want to stay longer than 30 days you have to pay a $200 temporary import
duty which is good for a year from the date you pay it. However, while your boat may remain you must get an extension on your visa and the maximum length of stay wilt extensions is 6 months. This policy has been in effect for some time.
The harbor fee is new and a source of confusion both to the sailing community and the power
that be in the BVI. When they realized the impact they started scurrying around trying to find a way to lessen the impact. This has lead to considerable confusion. If you ask 5 people in different ministries you will get 10 different answers. Currently the BVI Ships Registry says you can avoid the harbor fee by obtaining a Coastal License
. This license
is good for one year and requires a safety inspection
. The inspection
and license currently cost $80 +$1.50/foot but one official says it will go to $210 + $1.50/foot in the next month or so. apt. Sallah, head
of the registry has replied to some that it will cost $150 +$1.50/foot.
A sticking point on the licensing idea is the wording of the amendment imposing the fee. Paragraph 4(4), the definition of "home ported". 4(4)b) says "licensed in the British Virgin Islands which operates;"
. I assume that is the clause that allows us to get a license and be exempt but the last line of the paragraph says: "from an assigned berth or mooring in the British Virgin Islands.”
The words "which operates"
indicates that the last phrase is a continuation of the requirement. That sure sounds like you have to rent a slip to be licensed which will add significantly to the total cost. Several people claim that a slip is not required but that is not what the law says.
To add to the confusion another source says that vessels will have to pay the first day rate of $1/foot on every re-entry licensed or not. That would make the cost to run over to ST.Thomas for the day rather expensive.
As with many policy changes this one is fraught with unintended consequences and the BVI ministries are struggling to find ways to minimize the impact. More meetings are scheduled so I suggest we all hold our breath, cross our fingers and hope they arrive at a reasonable solution. This has been passed into law by the legislature however and there is a limit to how far the meaning can be stretched. Any significant change will probably require a new amendment to the amendment which will take some time. Stay tuned. The fat lady has not sung yet.