Puerto Rico - Formalities
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.
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 October 2014.
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.
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 October 2014.
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 October 2014.
Puerto Rico has some of the best health facilities in the Caribbean and all specialities can be found here. Hospitals and clinics are held to the same standard as the United States.
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).
ZIKA VIRUS ALERT: 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. Puerto Rico is an area of interest with thousands of 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.
Last updated September 2016.
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.
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.
US marine regulations apply concerning discharge of any waste overboard.
If your pet does not have a registered microchip, make sure your pets are wearing tags that identify them and have contact information for the owner.
Your pet must be vaccinated for rabies between 30 days and 10 months prior to entering Puerto Rico (one year vaccine) and 30 days and 34 months (3 year vaccine).
Dogs and cats may enter with appropriate Inoculation records.
Within 30 days of entry, a licensed veterinarian must complete the Veterinary Certificate for Puerto Rico. An alternate copy translated into Spanish is also recommended.
Puerto Rico will not permit the entry of American Staffordshire Terriers, Staffordshire Terriers and all Pit Bulls.
Further Information from US Department of Agriculture, Puerto Rico Office, Veterinary Division. Tel: 787 766 6050.
Last updated February 2016.