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Thailand, Phuket: Clearing In and Out January 2015

By Jason and Karen Trautz — last modified Feb 10, 2015 01:02 PM
A very comprehensive report covering actions and paperwork involved when clearing in and out of Thailand at Phuket, plus useful notes and updates for services ashore, from SV Yolo.

Published: 2015-02-05 00:00:00
Countries: Thailand

Thailand, Phuket: Clearing In and Out January 2015

SV Yolo © Jason Trautz

CLEARING IN AND OUT OF PHUKET, THAILAND

The following clearance and cruising information is provided to help sailors visiting Phuket, Thailand. This information is based on two U.S.A. citizens on the 42 foot catamaran

ARRIVAL DAY/ DATE: Friday, December 30, 2014

ARRIVAL PORT: Chalong Bay, Phuket Island, Thailand

DEPARTURE DAY/DATE: Friday, January 23, 2015

DEPARTURE PORT: Chalong Bay, Phuket Island, Thailand

CLEARANCE PORT

All yachts approaching Phuket Island must clear into the Chalong Bay "Phuket Yacht Control Center." The PYCC is also the only place to clear out of Phuket Island waters. The PYCC is located at the southern end of the 800-meter long pier which sticks out into the bay. Four governmental offices must be visited by EVERY person on board when clearing into AND out of the Phuket Island waters. The four offices are located next to each other on the first floor of the round building. A very crude dinghy dock is located just north of this building, in the storm-destroyed marina.

REQUEST PERMISSION TO ENTER PORTS ON VHF CHANNEL: Not required.

CLEARANCE AGENT REQUIRED: No

FORMALITIES

DOCUMENTS REQUIRED:

1. SHIP'S PAPERS: Yes, 3 copies to clear in and 3 copies to clear out.

2. PASSPORTS: Yes, 3 copies to clear in and 3 copies to clear out.

3. DESPACHO/ZARPE/EXIT PAPERS FROM LAST PORT/COUNTRY: Yes, the original document.

BUSINESS HOURS: All four governmental offices have the same business hours, seven days per week. They are open from 0900 to 1200 then close for lunch. The afternoon hours are from 1300 to 1500.

When clearing in AND out of Phuket, you visit the following offices in the following order:

FIRST GOVERNMENT OFFICE VISITED, INFORMATION/REGISTRATION CENTER:
This office has several computers and a pleasant staff who will assist you in completing an on-line yacht clearance documetn if you havent' done so in advance . A staff member will review your data prior to submitting your finalized information, which is electronically forwarded to the next three departments. No documents or copies are given to this department.

If you want to complete the yacht clearance document on-line via your own computer prior to arrival, go to the web site: yacht.phuket.go.th

Note: This web site is not user friendly and is often off-line/unavailable, but it is recommended that you fill in the info ahead of time. It is a tedious and confusing site. Don't bother to print your copies off as they want to print them out as you enter their offices; it puts the correct time and date on the forms and you can save your paper and printer ink for making photocopies of all the other documents they require.

SECOND GOVERNMENTAL - IMMIGRATION:
Clearing In: All people on board the vessel must go to this office. Give the official your original passports, one copy of each passport, one copy of your ship's papers, and he takes your photograph electronically. He checks each passport for a Visa obtained prior to arrival, stamps your passports, and returns them to you. We did not attempt to get a Visa on Arrival and the time allowed on such is in question--fifteen to thirty days.
Clearing Out: All people on board the vessel must go to this office. Give the official your original passport, one copy of each passport, one copy of your ship's papers, and he takes your photograph electronically again. He stamps each passport, and return thems to you.

THIRD GOVERNMENTAL OFFICE - CUSTOMS:
Clearing In: Give the official your Exit Paper(s) from your last port-of-call/country, one copy of each passport, and one copy of your boat papers. Sign the "Enters" log book and complete a "General Declaration" form. If you are clearing in on Saturday, Sunday, or a holiday, pay 800 Bhat for overtime.
Clearing Out: Give the official one copy of each passport, one copy of your boat papers, and sign the "Departures" log book. You pay 200 Bhat if clearing out Monday through Friday during normal business hours, otherwise you pay 1000 Bhat for Saturday, Sunday, or holiday services. You will depart this department with a payment receipt, a copy of the General Declaration form, and a Clearance Outwards form.

FOURTH GOVERNMENTAL OFFICE - MARINE CENTER/HARBOR MASTER/PORT CAPTAIN:
Clearing In: Give the official one copy of each passport, one copy of your boat papers, sign the "Arrival" log and complete a General Declaration form. You will receive a copy of the "Subject: All foreign boats to install the Automatic Identification System AIS" announcement dated September 2, 2014. More details concerning this subject is noted below.
Clearing Out: Give the official one copy of each passport, one copy of your boat papers, sign the "Departure" log book, complete a General Declaration form, and pay your 100 Baht Harbor Master fee. You will receive a receipt for the paid fee and a copy of the Thailand Outbound Clearance form.

AUTOMATIC IDENTIFICATION SYSTEM (AIS):
Officially as of September 2014, every foreign yacht is required to have an AIS transponder system on board and the unit had to be active 24/7 while in Phuket waters. As of January 2015 the Marine Center/Harbor Master/Port Captain has adopted the
US military philosophy of "don't ask and don't tell". During our visit NOBODY at any time asked about or discussed anything related to AIS. We certainly enjoyed this type of government regulation and oversight.

MUST CLEAR IN AND OUT OF EACH PORT IN THAILAND: Yes, if a port captain or harbor master is available.

BOAT INSPECTION REQUIRED: No.

HEALTH EVALUATION REQUIRED: No.

VISA REQUIREMENTS FOR U.S.A. CITIZEN: None, most visitors are granted an automatic 15 to 30 day tourist visit upon arrival.

PRIOR TO ARRIVAL VISA FOR U.S.A. CITIZENS: Not Required, unless you plan on staying more than 15 to 30 days. However most cruisers will spend more than 30 days on the west coast of Thailand. If you clear in WITHOUT a prior to arrival visa you will be given a single entry 15 OR 30 day tourist visa. Most of the time you get approval to stay 30 days, but a Visa On Arrival is NOT renewable or extendable, so you risk getting only the amount of time the official wants to give you. They have full discretion.

Most cruisers opt for a prior to arrival VISA, which allows you to stay in Thailand for 90 days. Most sailors get their 90 day single entry Thailand VISA at the Thailand Embassy in Georgetown, Malaysia on Penang Island. The cost of the VISA is 110 RM (about $35 USD). If you are in the Chew anchorage at Penang, walk out to the main shoreline street, turn right and walk several hundred meters to the bus station. The downtown local bus terminal is on the right, across the street from the tall green building with the clock at the top. Get on the 101 bus and tell the driver that you want off at the Thailand Embassy. The fare is 1.40 RM each way. If you want to take a cab to the Thai Embassy, go to the taxi stand which is located next to the downtown bus terminal. A maximum of four people can share one cab and the cost of the trip to the embassy is 20 RM. You must arrive at the embassy and complete the one page application form prior to noon, Monday through Friday. You will be required to submit 2 passport photos, one copy of your passport, and your original passport. Your passport with your Thailand VISA in it will be returned to you the following day, usually after 1400. As of December 2014 you must enter Thailand within 90 days to use the prior to arrival VISA.

Upon entering Thailand with a prior to arrival VISA you will be initially granted a 60 day tourist visit, which can be extended for another 30 days at a "primary" Thailand Immigration Office (for example in downtown Phuket City).

DECLARED: You must declare the usual items. I.e., guns, ammunition, obscene publications and materials, illegal drugs,

CLEARANCE FEES: Stated amounts are in Thai Baht and approximate U.S.A dollars. In January 2015, 33 Thai Baht equaled $1.00 USD. All fees must be paid in Thai Baht. There are numerous money exchangers in the tourist district at the north/beach end of the pier.

Clearing In:

1. Information/Registration Center: None

2. Immigration: None

3. Customs: Monday through Friday, none

Saturday, Sunday, or holidays, 800 Bhat ($24 USD)

4. Marine Center/Harbor Master/Port Captain, none

Clearing Out:

1. Information/Registration Center: None

2. Immigration: None

3. Customs: Monday through Friday, 200 Bhat ($6 USD)

Saturday, Sunday, or holidays, 1000 Bhat ($30 USD)

4. Marine Center/Harbor Master/Port Captain, 100 Bhat ($3 USD)

ASHORE:

Banking: There are numerous money exchangers in the tourist areas of Phuket. An ATM is seldom more than 50 meters away. However, all the ATMs in Thailand are a total rip-off. The minimum flat fee for using an ATM varies from $5 to $7 USD, REGARDLESS of the amount of the withdrawal. AND, there is the traditional 1 percent foreign transaction fee placed on top of the local bank flat fee. So, a $200 USD withdrawal might cost you $9 USD. Most businesses tack on a 7 percent value added tax for their goods and/or services. VAT tax refunds are only given to tourist who leave Thailand via plane and have their original receipts and the related goods in their hands at the airport. "Duty free yacht in transit" does NOT apply to imports into Thailand. Duty may run as high as 100% of the value of the imported item, so make sure you stock up in the Langkawi, Malaysia duty free port prior to visiting Phuket. As in many parts of the world, double the estimated or quoted delivery time for all items sent to Phuket, or within Thailand.

WI-FI: Realistically if you are sitting in any cafe or bar, you will get free wi-fi. Cheap data SIMS cards are available every few meters.

Language: Almost all business and governmental employees speak their local Thai language. If the local spends much time with tourists he/she speaks a little English. Many of the boat industry managers are ex-pats and speak English.

ADDITIONAL COMMENTS:

  • All government officials were efficient, friendly and professional. Most spoke very little English. This year, unlike last year, officials did NOT require "extra gifts" (money) to complete their duties. And. this year you got a paid receipt for all fees paid, unlike years gone by.
  • There are about a hundred private mooring balls near the Chalong Bay pier. Extra caution should be used at night when traveling in these waters.
  • Several of the large navigational buoys in the Chalong Bay are NOT noted on navigation charts (paper or electronic). And, some of the large concrete dolphin navigational aids in the middle of Chalong Bay are not lite at night.
  • Dozens of sight seeing tourist vessels speed through the Chalong Bay anchorage during the 0800-1000 and 1630-1730 rush hours. The resulting chop can throw boats in all directions.
  • Chalong Bay is NOT a place most people would swim, and the waters will challenge the best of bottom paints. Jellyfish are numerous in the anchorage.
  • You can NOT drink the water from the tap on Phuket Island, with exceptions being a few high end hotels and marinas.
  • When it comes to groceries, you name it and Phuket has it. Large box stores and malls are common and stocked with just about everything.
  • Motor scooters rent for about 250 Baht per day. Cars rent for about 1,000 Baht ($30 USD) per das. Caution: Hundreds of people are killed every year on motorcycles in Phuket. A taxi ride to the international airport from the south end of the island is about 1,000 Baht
  • Clearing into and out of other Thailand ports-of-call had different flavors of the above process.
  • Take a pen with you to each office. Each office will have you sign 5 or 6 computer generated forms upon arrival and departure.
  • Politically, Thailand is about as stable as molten lava. The guy running the country seldom spends more than 14 months in office. The regulations and formalities at the local clearance offices change frequently, with the blowing of the hot air winds from Bangkok.
  • Boatyards, Parts, and Services: There are numerous boatyards, marine stores, and yacht service organizations on Phuket Island. A complete list would take pages and pages. When you get to Phuket grab an EastMarine Phuket Yachting Directory for further details.
  • We asked for a price quote from about a dozen Phuket boatyards for a haulout, powerwash, splash, etc. We stayed on the hard for 10 days at Phuket Premier Boatyard which is located on the north side of the island at N 08.10.34 and E 098.19.33. Total cost was less than $650 USD. Some boat yards quoted over $2,000 for the same services, so buyer beware. You can contact the manager of Phuket Premier Boatyard, Ditapong, at info@phuketboatyard.com, phone +66 869 419 090, or visit www.phuketboatyard.com

Submitted by: Jason and Karen Trautz, s/v YOLO (You Only Live Once, life is not a rehearsal).

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