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By No owner — last modified Mar 15, 2017 04:40 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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Sue Richards
Sue Richards says:
Mar 15, 2017 04:40 PM

Posted on behalf of Ann Lange:
Just to let you know that the Sail Clear web site is up and working in Curaçao and you could save yourself a lot of time at Customs by doing it yourself before check in.

verrytom
verrytom says:
Feb 03, 2017 10:12 AM

The immigration building is now green and the anchor permit location is up the stairs on the left, it is not signed in any way. Closed at 11:30 for long lunch. If walking over from Customs via the pontoon bridge you get to immigration by going through the cruise ship entrance. We were issued a paper to get us in then walked along the water. They are pounding in new sheet piling so it seems unlikely but they waved us through. If you are driving, there is a gate on the eastern side near the giant tanks.

tayl2017
tayl2017 says:
Jan 11, 2017 10:29 PM

Negative experience with Curacao immigration yesterday. We were refused entrance to the country because we did not have an exit document from our last port, St. Croix, USVI. As US citizens, we are not required to check out of the USA, so we did not do so, and did not have a document. We had valid passports and boat document, but no matter. The official would not take our word for it. Bottom line, if you do not have an document to prove where you came from, you will not be granted entrance to Curacao. We were forced to leave.

lkgreen
lkgreen says:
Oct 02, 2016 03:20 PM

There appears to be very differing reports on clearance and length of stay issues. Some may be as a result of citizens of a certain countries are subject to different roles. We sail a US flagged vessel and my wife and I are US citizens. After almost 90 days in Bonaire, we sailed to Curacao arriving July 8 2016. Went to Customs,then immigration then the port office for a cruising permit. Based on what I have read I was under the impression I would need to fill out some additional paperwork and pay $300 fee to extend my initial 90 day stay to the full 180 days allowed. Last week I went first to Customs and asked what was required. After looking at our passports the Customs officer said nothing was required so long as we departed by the end of 180 days. I then asked,what about the boat? The Customs agent briefly spoke with her supervisor and reported that they thought nothing was required, but I should check.Next I went to immigration (under the highway bridge) showed my initial clearance documents and was told everything was good as long as I left, with the boat, by the end of the 180 days. No paperwork, no additional documents and no charge. Happily I left and started walking back to town, then it occurred to me that I probably needed to check on my anchoring permit. Went back d upstairs to the port control office asked. There I was told to make sure and come back on or before Oct 7th to buy a new anchoring permit for $10.00. The officer said it would be better for me to think about other authorized anchorages so I could pay one fee,and include any authorized anchorages on the same permit. If these responses were based on citizenship of vessel flag,maybe it would be a possibility for future commentators on clearance issues to identify their citizenship or vessel flag in order that we all have a better understanding of differing requirements that may apply to us.

Indigo
Indigo says:
Sep 23, 2016 02:36 AM

Regarding the immigration offices. The port office for the initial check in/out is the same, but the main office for further enquiries that was noted at "Mortiersweg 5, Suffisant" has moved to the Punda office near Mcdonalds.

Indigo
Indigo says:
Sep 23, 2016 02:29 AM

Further to the previous information regarding the short stay visa extension. We can confirm that our extension was granted in a few weeks. The duration given was a further 180 days from our application, so it gives more than enough time for laying over during hurricane season. The fee was 300 US p.p. No other fee was payable and no deposits required for the overwinternaar short stay visa. We were advised that one can come and go as much as one likes with in the 180 days. No applicable to us, but we also noted that USA passport holders get 6 month automatically, which is the same as a Dutch citizen. This is not published yet, but was at hand in the Punda immigration office. Europeans get 3 months and some nationalities 1 month.

Indigo
Indigo says:
Jun 02, 2016 01:53 PM

For Curacao Immigration, the information above is still applicable. We found that the immigration at the port office are only interested in stamping you in. They advise 1 month unless you one of the countries that get 3 months. This info is on the internet. The port office did not entertain any discussion or accept the valid 90 day Schengen Multi Entry visa. They refer you to the Punda office (opposite McDonalds). A visit there proved that the 90 Day Schengen visa was accepted and an application to extend for a further 90 days was possible on the "Short Stay" application as "Overwinteraar". The current fee is 300 USD p.p. So far, with the exception of the port immigration office, every official has been an absolute pleasure to deal with. We can also vouch for the Santa Barbora Beach Marina (also linked to Seru Bocca) for their incredible continued service right from our first enquiry by the Manager Robert.rvandenheuvel@santabarbaraplantation.com

burnettmed
burnettmed says:
Nov 21, 2015 05:08 PM

It is important to note that ALL CREW must be physically present to clear in AND OUT with Immigration. This means you have to load up everyone, including kids, and take them on the trek to town after you anchor/dock in Spanish Waters. We didn't know this, they were firm about it, and so we had to make the trip twice! Blek!

Lior Keydar
Lior Keydar says:
Mar 29, 2015 04:43 AM

If you sail west, dont miss the Santa Cruz Bay at the west end of the island. We saw caves in the water and ate great food by the restaurant of Captain good life, the only house and restaurant in this bay. it was really a nice stop there

PeteDD
PeteDD says:
Oct 06, 2016 07:54 PM

Curacao Immigration confirmed to us in writing today that US citizens receive a six month tourist visa. This is not yet updated on their website. Here is a copy of the letter:

Dear Mr Dubler,
According to the Dutch-American treaty, American citizens get the same treatment as Dutch citizens regarding Admission to Curaçao.
This means that American citizens can also stay a total of six months as tourists.
When submitting a petition for a permit to live on the island, Americans have to submit the same type of permit as Dutch citizens.

Regards,
Customer Service Center
Prinsenstraat 90, Punda
Willemstad, Curaçao
T: +5999 733-2000
F: +5999 462-6176
E: info@immigrationcur.org
W: www.gobiernu.cw

enceecee
enceecee says:
Oct 05, 2013 02:30 AM

when we checked into Curacao almost 2 weeks ago I asked at Immigration if the rules were still the same, i.e. 3 months per calender year, and was informed that the 3-month rule had been changed and foreigners can now stay 6 months per calender year. You can now either stay 6 months in a row, or break them up throughout the year, according to the lady at Immigration. However, I also heard from some people that not all immigration officers either have been informed or adhere to the new rules.

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