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By No owner — last modified May 12, 2014 12:35 PM

 Puerto Rico - Formalities

Clearance

Fly the Q flag on entering Purto Rican waters.

It is necessary to clear in with both Customs and with Immigration.
All boats arriving from outside the territory must contact the US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) immediately.

The telephone number to report arrival is 1-877-529-6840 or (787) 729-6840. Seven days a week: 08:00 to 24:00. Outside these hours: (787) 253-4533 or (787) 253-4538.

Only the capatain is permitted got go ashore, if necessary, to report arrival.

All yachts (including American yachts) coming from the US Virgin Islands must report their arrival in Puerto Rico. The whole crew must visit the CBP officer, although US boats can report by telephone only if they are part of the Local Boater Option programme. See Customs for details.

There is an entry fee to pay if you come to Puerto Rico (see "Fees" below for details). If you do not have a cruising permit (see "Documents" below for details), you will have to pay this entry fee in every harbour.

It is alos necessary to also phone the freephone number when moving from one district to another. A personal visit will not be required unless departing Puerto Rico.

There are four districts, North, South, East, and West. The East district is based in Fajardo and covers Puerto Rico East coast and the Spanish Virgin Islands.

Departure
A departure Zarpe is available if one is required for your next port of call.
After you clear out, you have 48 hours to leave Puerto Rico.

Non-US nationals must return the immigration docket in their passports, issued on arrival, but this can be done by post.

There is more detail on security and clearance measures on the Noonsite USA/Customs pages.

Last updated January 2013.

Raul Santiago
(Rolling Thunder)
Tel:(787) 519-3177
A useful contact if wishing to clear in at one of the unofficial Ports of Entry in the west of PR (Puerto Real or Boquerón, Cabo Rojo).
SSCA Cruising Station Host
(Thomas Cordero) , Puerto Rico
Tel:787) 691-3536
Tom is a helpful contact for information about Puerto Rico.

Immigration

All visitors, except US citizens, require a valid passport.

Entry requirements for non-US citzens are as for the US. This requires a personal visit to the Immigration office for all the non-US crew.

For US citizens, there is a Local Boater Programme (LBP) in Puerto Rico which allows participants to report by phone instead of in person to the nearest CBP office.

See Noonsite's USA/Immigration page for more details on US Immigration requirements.

It is important to note that the visa-waiver program does not apply to visitors arriving by yacht for the first time, and all non-US crew, except Canadians, require a visa in advance.

See Accurate Information for Yachtsmen Entering the USA

A multiple entry visa should be requested, especially if cruising from the US Virgin Islands or other US territory.

An alternative method on entry for crew without visas is to make use of the Visa Waiver Program (if they are eligable) by first taking a ferry trip from the BVI's to the USVI's. This has been confirmed as perfectly legal and will then allow crew to enter the USVI again or Puerto Rico by yacht. It is, however, essential that they are in possession of a valid ESTA (Electronic System for Travel Authorization). Once granted, an ESTA is valid for 2 years. Entry under the VWP permits visits of up to 90 days from the date of the first entry into US territory.

Last updated September 2014.

Customs

All boats must check in initally with Customs at the Port of Entry.

Check with Customs at your Port of Entry whether it is necessary for you to check in with Customs again when moving from one Customs area to another within Puerto Rico.

US boats are permitted to retain any firearms on boat if they have been previously registered with ATF before leaving the mainland US.

Any firearms on a foreign-flagged boat will be retained unless the owner has a permit and this has been approved by Customs prior to arrival. See USA/Customs for the necessary details.

Local Boater Option
The US department of Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has implemented the Local Boater Option (LBO) program. This option is available to frequent small boat users in the Tampa, Miami, Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands areas. The LBO will allow CBP to expedite the arrival reporting process to low risk boaters.

Enrollment to the LBO Program is voluntary, free of charge and will facilitate your clearance procedures. All US citizen are eligible to join. In order to participate in the LBO you must contact CBP at the nearest registration location designated by the Port of Entry. The applicant will be provided an appointment to present all required documentation to CBP Officials.

See Noonsite's US Virgin Island page for the CBP office there.

Last Updated June 2012.

Health

Puerto Rico has the best health facilities in the Caribbean and all specialities can be found here.

Puerto Rican restaurants, bars and most street vendors are regulated by the US Food & Drug Administration.

Avoid eating any fish caught off Vieques as local opinion is that most fish have Ciguatera (January 2014).

Documents

A cruising permit can be obtained on arrival in Puerto Rico.

Contact Customs on 1-877-529-6840 for more information.

USA registered boats of 30 feet and over must display a Customs decal (issued per calendar year).

Last updated June 2012.

Fees

Overtime is charged outside of working hours Monday to Saturday from 0900-1600.

The Customs decal which can be purchased when clearing in, costs $27.50. This is valid for an entire calendar year throughout the USA and its territories, and exempts the boat from further Customs charges.

Cruising Permit: 19USD for 39ft boat

Last updated January 2013.

Restrictions

Waste Disposal
US marine regulations apply concerning discharge of any waste overboard.

Pets

Dogs and cats may enter with appropriate Health Certificate and Rabies Inoculation Certificate from a Veterinarian dated two weeks prior to arrival.

A Stud Collar is required with two ID Tags (permanent address and telephone number and address and telephone number when travelling) Information from US Department of Agriculture, Puerto Rico Office, Veterinary Division. Tel: 787 766 6050. www.meetpuertorico.com or www.prtourism.com.

Share |
Sue Richards
Sue Richards says:
May 14, 2014 10:47 PM

Posted on behalf of Ann Lange
This is for Canadian cruisers wanting to enter the U.S. from the Caribbean. We sailed up from Brazil - Trinidad - north through the Caribbean to BVI's. We had no problems what so ever getting into the USVI's, just the normal paper work. We asked if we could purchase a U.S. cruising permit in the USVI's, the answer was no but we could obtain it in Puerto Rico. We sailed into San Juan without phoning or anything and once we found the Customs and Border Protection office on the south side of the main harbour they issued us a one year cruising permit. It cost us $37.00 USD in April of 2014, this allows us to cruise anywhere in the U.S. including any protectorates. We found this process very simple and easy compared with all the rumours we had heard.

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