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Eastern Caribbean Cruising: Simplified Clearance Procedures Explained

By Sue Richards — last modified Jul 14, 2014 12:02 PM
Contributors: eSeaClear and SailClear
Advance notification systems eSeaClear and SailClear explained. See comments at bottom of report from cruisers who have tried using these systems during the 2014 season.

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

Eastern Caribbean Cruising: Simplified Clearance Procedures Explained

© WCC

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.

eSeaClear
https://www.eseaclear.com/

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".)

SailClear
http://www.sailclear.com/

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 officially launched on 1 November. The site is currently in the final stages of testing with some minor development changes taking place before the official launch when access to the site will be via an encrypted channel (i.e. secure) and the Privacy Policy and User Agreement will be available.

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 noonsite@noonsite.com

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Sue Richards
Sue Richards says:
Mar 21, 2014 03:03 PM

My eseaclear account has NOT been carried over to Sailclear therefore I would have to re-register and re-enter all my yacht and crew information again to use it. I am unable to find out from the website which countries are actually using the system. It would therefore be a complete waste of time to enter the information only to find out that the country I am clearing into is not on the system.
Oh well, back to paper!
Anne Hulbert
PS. Eseaclear always worked well for me, and still does in Antigua.

Sue Richards
Sue Richards says:
Jun 16, 2014 04:10 PM

From Anonymous.
I have cruised the eastern caribbean for 4 weeks in May 2014. Here are some updates, especially on the Sailclear system.

Anguilla – Road Bay: Immigration: Not using Sailclear yet, Customs: Fully implemented and working – VERY easy
BVI – Virgin Gorda – Spanish Town: They had not even heard of Sailclear
St. Kitts – Basseterre – Port Zante Marina – Customs: Fully implemented
Montserrat – Little Bay: In the entrance hall there was a PC with “Sailclear” in big letters, but it was not working. Staff was aware but said they haven’t been trained nor have any user/pwd to the system

Data privacy seems to be one BIG thing in Sailclear which I was not aware of: For clearance in St. Kitts I didn’t submit a notification via Sailclear. Nevertheless the lady at customs was able to find my boat and all my crew WITH ALL PERSONAL DETAIL. – I was shocked. – Does that mean authorities in all connected countries can access all personal detail entered???

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