Clearing in with Customs

When you arrive in a new country, you need to clear in with the local customs office to get your cruising permit and visas for the time you are going to be there. The process is much simpler than if you were on an airplane and flying into a new city. There are no lines to wait in, or prodding questions about what you are carrying in your luggage. Just a simple form and conversation with the local customs agent set at a relaxed pace.

When you arrive in a new country, you will fly the Q flag (yellow flag) on your starboard spreader. This flag indicates that you have not cleared in yet and are in "Quarantine". You simply go to shore and head over to the customs office to fill out some forms and pay your entry visa fee.

Some important points about the process are: Only the captain can go to shore at this point, and he must take all pertinent information along with him or her. This includes the Documentation or Registration papers of the boat, and the passports of all those onboard the boat.

The captain will also need to know the address of each person on board, as well as their birth dates.

The Customs agent will ask questions about what sort of cargo are you carrying, and "Provisions" is all you need to say. If you are carrying any weapons or fire arms, this is the time to declare them. We do not carry fire arms, so I do not know how that proceeding would then go.

The customs agent will want you to state where your last port of call was, and where your next port of call will be. Basically, they want to know where you have been, and make sure that you are going to leave at some point in the future.

After you fill out all the papers, you then need to pay the entry visa for the boat and crew. Then you are free to go and explore their waters! Sometimes, a Customs agent will come inspect your vessel, but usually, they will not bother with such formalities.

When you have the option to check in at a large city or sleepy small town, choose the small town. The office will be less rushed, and the agents will be more relaxed. This means that you will have a more relaxed time of your entry process as they are more patient.