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Old 02-12-2020, 00:21   #1
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Cruising and Visa's

Hi All,

My wife and I are looking to cruise in a few years when our Leopard 40 comes out of Moorings.

As South Africans we do not have a great passport and probably need a visa in most countries we would like to visit. Some in our area allow visa on arrival. I was wondering how it works with cruising yachts. For example when we applied recently to go to Europe we needed flights and accommodation booked before we could apply.

Does anyone know how it would work for say the USA. What if you are in the Caribbean and a hurricane forces you to seek shelter in the US and you have no Visa?

The other thing is the timing. I would think when one is cruising you not running a schedule that will allow you to say exactly when you will arrive in a country. You may also be in an area where you cannot apply for a visa for the next, or one of your next, countries.

Was just wondering how people manage this aspect of cruising.

It would be nice to hear from peoples first hand experiences around the visa issue.

Thank you.
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Old 02-12-2020, 00:55   #2
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Re: Cruising and Visa's

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Originally Posted by aqfishing View Post
Hi All,

My wife and I are looking to cruise in a few years when our Leopard 40 comes out of Moorings.

As South Africans we do not have a great passport and probably need a visa in most countries we would like to visit. Some in our area allow visa on arrival. I was wondering how it works with cruising yachts. For example when we applied recently to go to Europe we needed flights and accommodation booked before we could apply.

Does anyone know how it would work for say the USA. What if you are in the Caribbean and a hurricane forces you to seek shelter in the US and you have no Visa?

The other thing is the timing. I would think when one is cruising you not running a schedule that will allow you to say exactly when you will arrive in a country. You may also be in an area where you cannot apply for a visa for the next, or one of your next, countries.

Was just wondering how people manage this aspect of cruising.

It would be nice to hear from peoples first hand experiences around the visa issue.

Thank you.
Visa issues are different from country to country. Re: the US - here goes:

You need to have a B1/B2 visa to enter the US on your own boat. Once you have a B1/B2 visa you do not need an ESTA. The B1/B2 can be obtained at the American embassy in your country (usually takes a couple of months), Failing that, you can get it in Barbados or Nassau - nowhere else.

Once you have the visa - you can sail to the US and check in with Customs and Border Protection (CBP). They will normally issue you a 6 month stay - do not accept this -ask for and you will get a 12 month stay. You will also need a Cruising Permit - this is free and granted for up to 1 year at a time.

Once in the US you will need call CBP each and every time you move your boat - big fine if you don't. A slight pain in the butt, but you get used to it.

a word of advice - get your B1/B2 before you leave SA - do NOT try to enter the US without one.

carsten
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Old 02-12-2020, 02:21   #3
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Re: Cruising and Visa's

Most countries you will visit will require a visa in advance. You have to check them country by country. Good luck with it, mate. Right now, there are many travel restrictions, but as Covid 19 vaccination becomes more available, perhaps they will lessen.

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Old 02-12-2020, 04:31   #4
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Re: Cruising and Visa's

You don't need to overthink too much, AQ.

As Carsten relates, it's just an extra administrative step that, once known, you just comply with and work your way through the various requirements. I remember staying a couple of extra days in the capital of Vanawatu, waiting for our paperwork for New Caladonia.

Regarding unforeseen contingencies, there is a safe harbour provision. Let's say you were caught out in extremely bad weather and deeked into the nearest safe harbour to anchor - which happened to be a country for which you did not hold a visa.

It's all about dealing with that country's authorities as soon and as honestly as possible. While at anchor, fly your Q-Flag. Try to raise someone on the radio to ask where you would properly clear in (or just read the cruising guide that you'll probably have onboard).

Of course, Covid has complicated things to an extreme extent, but the treatment you would receive would vary by country and the actual customs/coast guard officer with whom you're dealing, but if you default to honesty and civility - and patience, it will take you far.

Apparently www.noonsite.com is a good resource (it gets recommended on this Forum a lot) but I can't vouchsafe, as I've never used it.

My MO is to talk to fellow cruisers and ask questions of them as I go along. Our sailing community is a great resource (and not just on this Forum).

Fair winds,
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Old 02-12-2020, 05:59   #5
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Re: Cruising and Visa's

Yes to Noonsite for info. When we sailed to Ecuador every one told us that the visa was good for 90 days and renewable once. When we tried to renew there was confusion. Turns out that it is 90 days if you fly or arrive by land. If you arrive by sea your visa is linked to the vessel and is good for a year as long as you donít leave the country. My point is to beware of common visa information that is focused on the usual visitors. Enjoy your voyage itís amazing touring while bringing your own home!
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Old 02-12-2020, 06:56   #6
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Re: Cruising and Visa's

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Originally Posted by JPA Cate View Post
Most countries you will visit will require a visa in advance. You have to check them country by country. Good luck with it, mate. Right now, there are many travel restrictions, but as Covid 19 vaccination becomes more available, perhaps they will lessen.

Ann

It's really not that bad. During our circumnavigation just few years ago we needed visas beforehand just for Australia, New-Zealand and USA. And only for US visa we had to apply when still at home.
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Old 02-12-2020, 07:17   #7
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Re: Cruising and Visa's

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Once in the US you will need call CBP each and every time you move your boat - big fine if you don't. A slight pain in the butt, but you get used to it.

Big pain in the butt and I never got used to it when I was in the Persian Gulf.

But youíre a guest in their country and itís their rules.
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Old 02-12-2020, 07:27   #8
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Re: Cruising and Visa's

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Big pain in the butt and I never got used to it when I was in the Persian Gulf.

But youíre a guest in their country and itís their rules.
well, virtually every CBP person we spoke with was friendly so no big deal- phone call only took 2-3 minutes giving boat name cruising license number and location.

but woe to the cruiser who forgot..................
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Old 02-12-2020, 09:01   #9
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Re: Cruising and Visa's

Cool! Thanks for the input everyone. Noonsite is bookmarked!
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