Eastern Caribbean Cruising: Simplified Clearance Procedures Explained
Published: 2014-06-16 00:00:00
Topics: Cruising Information
Countries: Trinidad & Tobago , Anguilla , Bermuda , British Virgin Islands , Curacao , Dominica , St Lucia , Turks & Caicos , Antigua & Barbuda , Cayman Islands , Grenada , Montserrat , St Vincent & the Grenadines
This report first posted in October 2013.
The Eastern Caribbean includes many different nations, each with its own customs and immigration formalities to be dealt with on arrival and departure. This can be a lengthy process in the majority of island nations and patience and an understanding of “island-time” is definitely worth cultivating.
Help is at hand however with the development of two “advance notification” websites that cater for clearance in some of the Windward and Leeward islands. These two organisations are attempting to ease the clearance procedure for skippers with the possibility to enter all customs and immigration clearance details online prior to arrival, and simply update details as you cruise between islands. This information is then available to the different national border agencies facilitating the declaration process on arrival. Legally, skippers are still required to report to Customs and Immigration on arrival to present their identification documents, but the time spent there will be reduced considerably.
Both set-ups are similar in name (which can be confusing), and similar in service, however currently they facilitate clearance for different islands.
First, the more established service eSeaClear, which currently works with Antigua & Barbuda following a re-vamp last year when they extended their service to cover all three border agencies. Keen to deliver on their promise of a speedier clearance process, ESeaClear are concentrating on Antigua & Barbuda at present in order to optimize the system before deploying it in other countries.
Using eSeaClear for clearance into Antigua & Barbuda means that customs, immigration and the port authority will all have access to your data, making the clearance process on arrival very efficient. Add to this an established eSeaClear office in English Harbour, Antigua, with a computer and staff to assist, it means the service is also available on arrival should you not have had internet access on passage or prior to departure to complete your details.
Over 12,000 people have been cleared through border formalities in Antigua & Barbuda using eSeaClear since November last year.
(Update July 2014 from Bob Potter, CEO of eSeaClear Inc. - "In Antigua & Barbuda we just passed the 50,000th person clearance and 10,000th vessel clearance using eSeaClear over the past two yachting seasons (December 2012 thru June 2014). Needless to say, it continues to go very well and receives excellent reviews from the authorities and yachties alike".)
Second, a newer service established last year and still under trial is SailClear. This service is being developed by the Caribbean Customs Law Enforcement Council (CCLEC), who parted company with eSeaClear in July 2012 (see news item).
The CCLEC Council is made up of Comptrollers of Customs and SailClear is a project approved by the Council. Therefore all members of CCLEC have agreed to implement the system and while it may take time for some countries to become compliant, the CCLEC anticipate the majority, if not all countries, will be using SailClear in the future.
SailClear will be active in Anguilla, Bermuda, BVI, Curacao, Dominica, Saint Lucia, Turks and Caicos, St Vincent and Grenada.
Users of the past eSeaClear service prior to July 2012 who were registered and who had submitted data, will find that their account has been carried over to the new SailClear service. In this regard there is no need to re-register.
Optional and Free
If you are planning on a visit to the Eastern Caribbean this season, then it is likely you will have the opportunity to use both clearance systems. Both are optional services, for which there is no charge. If you still prefer to arrive on island and proceed with clearance in the old-fashioned way, officials will have no objection, however you should find that by using the online advance notification services you save yourself a great deal of time.
Feedback from users of both eSeaClear and SailClear is actively encouraged. Comment directly via this report, or contact firstname.lastname@example.org