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By No owner — last modified Dec 14, 2017 10:02 PM

cw.gif  Curacao - Formalities

Clearance

The SailClear advance web notification service for clearance is now operational in Curacao. Completing the online forms prior to checking in will save a lot of time at Customs.

Clearing in

As tying up to the dock in Willemstad for clearance is both uncomfortable and dangerous due to the heavy wash from commercial traffic, many yachts prefer to berth at Spanish Water and travel to town to clear. Officials no longer visit Spanish Water, skippers must now go to Punda in Willemstad for Customs clearance, and then all the crew need to go to Immigration. The office is on the other side of the river, in the cruise ship terminal area.

An exit clearance (zarpe) from previous port is required for entry. Without this document from the previous port, you will be refused entry into Curacao. This is especially relevant for cruisers coming from USVI or other USA territories where an exit clearance document is not automatically given.

You must clear-in within 24 hours of arrival. Note, ALL crew must be present for Immigration to clear both in and out.

See more details including locations of offices etc. under Willemstad Clearance.

Leaving your boat

There are a few marinas with bonded warehouse status on Curacao; this means that yachts can be stored without a time limit when uninhabited. If leaving your boat in Curacao, you will need to present a letter to that effect and show your flight ticket to harbour Immigration when you depart. Harbour Immigration will check you out from your boat. When returning to Curacao you need to return to harbour Immigration and check in again on your boat.

Clearing Out
On departure, contact Immigration and Customs. The latter is particularly important as the time a yacht spends in the country is monitored and is limited.

After having cleared out of Curaçao to sail to Aruba one is technically not allowed to stop anywhere en route, although the authorities do not seem to mind genuine overnight stops.

See this very useful cruiser's report for more details.

Last updated September 2017.

Immigration

All visitors require valid passports.

American citizens are treated the same as Dutch ones and permitted to stay for 6 months.

Immigration rules were favourably changed mid-2013 so that visiting cruisers from other countries wanting to spend the winter in Curacao with their boats, can now apply for a 180 day extension to their visa per calendar year. By law owners, partners and children of visiting yachts, staying over the winter, are also allowed 180 days.

In practice however, the execution of this law is not efficiently done. The reality is that the Port Immigration Office, where you enter the country, will simply want to stamp you in on a normal tourist visa (30 or 90 days depending on your nationality). If you want to extend your stay by 180 days, then they will refer you to the Punda office. It costs approx. US $300.

Note that all required forms to apply for the "extension" are in Dutch, difficult to complete with minimal explanation. Plenty of time is also required to apply for an extension, up to 6 weeks, so be sure to investigate this on arrival and apply early if planning an extended stay in Curacao.

The Curacao Marine Trade Association have passed on the following information:

When yacht owners want to apply for this 180 days the immigration officer should request a "permit for short stay". The first question to fill in on that form is: “Doel kort verblijf” which means: The purpose of the short stay. There yacht owners should choose the option “overwinteraar”  which means: hibernating (staying over the winter).

Applicants should demonstrate evidence of ownership of their yacht. The vessel should measure at least 10 meter or 33 feet at the waterline.

Short-term visa extensions
If you need to extend your visa, you should apply for an extension at least 2 weeks before it expires at the main Immigration office.

Be prepared with a letter stating reasons for your request, and copies of your boat’s documentation or registration, passport, proof of financial means of support (e.g. credit card), and your immigration form & crew list. This is a lengthy and ill-defined process, but your good faith efforts to extend legally will generally meet with success and minimal expense.

Extensions must be obtained in Curacao from the Immigration headquarters, located at the post office building. Passports must be left there for 2 days to be processed.

Last updated October 2016.

Immigration Office
Breedestraat 39C , Willemstad
Opening hours: Monday - Sunday 07:00 - 21:30
Clearing in office.
Main Immigration Office (Punda)
Located near McDonalds
Apply here for visa extensions.

Customs

Leaving your boat
If you wish to leave your boat in Curacao, there is no time limit but it must be stored in one of the Customs approved storage facilities (Curacao Marine, Royal Marine Curacao or Seru Boca Marina).

Firearms must be declared to Customs, and will be removed for the duration of the stay.

Duty paid on equipment will be refunded on departure. Spares may be imported free of duty, but this must be arranged with Customs at the airport and it is usually easier if the services of a local agent are employed.

Last updated November 2016.

Health

ZIKA VIRUS ALERT: (September 2016) There have been recent safety alerts from the US State Department, UK Foreign Office, and Center for Disease Control (CDC) regarding travel to parts of Central and South America, Africa, southern Asia, the Caribbean, and the South Pacific islands. Curacao is an area of interest with multiple reported cases and active virus transmission. There is growing concern about the rapid spread of the ZIKA Virus and the impact of the virus on pregnant women and babies. ZIKA is transmitted by mosquitos in tropical and sub-tropical climates, and there is currently no cure or vaccine. This situation is evolving rapidly, so please refer to the CDC’s dedicated website if you are intending to cruise in one of the effected areas.

Documents

An exit clearance (zarpe) from previous port is required for entry. Without this document from the previous port, you will be refused entry into Curacao.

In Curacao visitors need to carry identification papers with them at all times (i.e. a passport with valid immigration stamp in it). It is also recommended to carry a copy of the immigration papers with you. This will show that you are legally visiting Curacao by yacht.

Like every Caribbean island with a sustained economy the island attracts alot of illegal workers. This means that police checks are more prevalent, and extra mobile road police check points operate, mostly at night times. If stopped at a check point whilst ashore, be sure to behave in a normal polite manner and show valid identification as described above.

Dive Permit
This is only necessary to obtain from the Harbour Authority in Willemstad by those who wish to anchor and dive along the coast. All intended anchorages must be listed on the permit.

Fees

The $10 anchoring fee permits anchoring at:-

  • Fuik Baai
  • Spanish Waters
  • Piscadera Bay
  • Santa Martha, and
  • Santa Cruz

Be sure to get your permit as the Coast Guard do patrol and ask to see the paperwork.

Restrictions

The area from Jan Thiel Bay, SE of Willemstad, to East Point, is an underwater park. Permanent moorings are provided to protect the coral from damage and using one's own anchor is prohibited. No harpoons or spearguns are allowed.

All anchoring needs permission from the harbour office in Willemstad. It costs $10 USD for 3 days in each anchorage, exept Spanish Water where a permission lasts for 3 months. (Nov 2011)

Wider Caribbean's Marine Protected Areas (CaMPAM)
A useful database of MPAs in the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean region. All Marine Parks are MPAs, and therefore if wanting to find out about any marine parks in the islands you are visiting, details and location can be sourced via this website.
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