Date: 12 Jul 97 23:20:04 EDT
From: "Eugene Jr. H. Gruender" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Entry/Exit Facts
We've had a thread about entry of foreign ports recently. Many folks seem to think the costs of entry/exit are very steep. We recently visited 5 countries (including the US) and here's what we ran into.
Cost to enter, $10, (cruising permit), cost for fishing license, $20. If this seem like a lot, any state will charge around $20 for a non-resident license, and that's per person. The Bahamas fee is per boat. It took about half an hour and we were treated just fine. The cost to leave was $10. It took about 10 minutes and, again, we were treated just fine.
(Summer 2000 - We've heard recent reports that there is now a $100 fee to check into The Bahamas)
Cost to enter - nothing. Time to do it, several hours, but they came
to us. We just had to wait until they could get to it. They were also taking
care of some commercial shipping.
You are required to check into and out of the major ports as you go, but it's pretty painless, and if you act halfway responsible, they have the authority to let you stop in small ports along the way. If this sounds a little restrictive, it's mainly because of the pressure the US has put on them.
Checking out was just as painless, and completely free. A hint: If you're going to places like this, many times the customs and immigration offices are quite a way from where cruisers are likely to show up. If you are near where cruise ships dock, catch them when they leave the cruise ship. It'll save you a trip and it'll be very easy. Jamaica seems unconcerned with whether you show up during normal hours or not. Just anchor and see them in the morning.
Checking in is cost free unless you're outside of normal working hours (around 8 to 4 or so, 9 to noon on Saturday) If it's outside of normal hours, you can wait or pay a $50 fee to get processed then. We arrived about 2 on Saturday and were given the choice of having a customs guy found to take care of us or waiting until Monday. We wanted to get ashore, so we paid the fee. Checking out is the same, with a $2.50 fee for your paperwork.
Mexico (Isla Mujeres):
We arrived during normal hours. There were various fees and several offices to visit. The fees were trivial, amounting to less than $10 in total, including all the copies we had to have made. The town was small and you could walk to anywhere in 5 minutes, so it was not a big deal. Some of it seemed a little silly, as you may remember if you read my account of it at the time, but it was not expensive or a problem. Checking out was almost the same in reverse, the cost was a couple dollars. Total check in time was about half an hour to an hour, check out less.
It took 2 hours on the phone, along with several long distance calls to locate the right office. We were eventually checked in over the phone and told to send a check for $25 for our customs decal. We got t their office that afternoon and paid in person to make sure it got handled. The customs officer apologized quite a bit, saying he was embarrassed to take the fee, as he thought it was stupid. He told me that if I had not sent the check or come by that no one would have come looking for me, they may have mailed me a letter, but that would have been the end of it.
In the whole trip, we were never treated with anything but respect at each office. In addition, we stayed and chatted with the people and learned a lot from them. I'd recommend you go in and just visit with them. You'll pay your fees and get your papers, of course, but view it a some time spent with some natives and you'll have a good time, you'll leave with both parties smiling and new friends made. We actually look forward to seeing the people in these offices again. They are good, friendly, interesting people.
The closest we came to a bribe attempt was the fellow in the Port Captain's office who wanted an 80 peso "overtime" fee for Saturday morning. I pointed out that it was their normal hours and it wasn't mentioned again. I've been told that they think Americans are pretty dumb - you just tell them to pay and they do. Guess I messed up his image! Within 24 hours of arriving in the US we were charged the $25 mentioned above. We were also over charged $50 on the purchase of a used car for fees that weren't proper. Then we found the insurance agent was incompetent, costing us about another $50. (And we had to find another company.) You can read between the lines, I think, about where I think the expenses are!