Venezuela - Formalities
March 2015: Due to the political and economic situation in Venezuela, it is recommended that yachts intending to visit Venezuela consider their options carefully. The lack of food and soaring inflation rate has made the country very unstable. The USA has declared a national security emergency, therefore all US yachts, or those carrying US citizens, are considered at this time to be at high risk.
See CSSN report for more details.
On entry into Venezuela, first clear with Customs, Immigration and Port Captain, in that order. Clearance is made much easier when able to produce an outward clearance paper (zarpe) from the previous country visited.
Moving from one Venezuelan state to another, it is necessary to clear both out and in of each state visited with both Customs and Port Captain.
Immigration clearance is only required when entering and leaving the country.
Cruising permits are required and are issued for surrounding areas when clearing in by the Port Captain. To travel further afield one must clear out and then clear in at the next port.
Be aware that the rules often change and that individual port captains may adjust the rules to fit their needs and interpretation of the law. It has been reported that so called "national" clearance, when travelling between states, is no longer required, but this seems to depend on officials in each port.
There is no clearance at weekends.
It may be necessary to have an official pilot for entry into Maracaibo, La Guaira and Ciudad Bolívar. It is not recommended to clear into Maracaibo as yachts are charged the same price as large commercial vessels.
If wishing to stop at any of the Venezuelan islands between Isla de Margarita and Bonaire, this should be stated when clearing out of Isla de Margarita. A mention will be made on the clearance paper that permission had been granted to stop at
puntos intermedios. This may not always be acceptable to other officials but more and more yachts are visiting La Blanquilla without any difficulties as the local Coast Guard becomes accustomed to foreign yachts.
It is possible to visit Los Roques independently, without having to visit the Venezuela mainland. More information under Los Roques.
Last updated February 2014.
All US citizens now require a visa for entry into Venezuela, and these must be obtained prior to entry. Arrival at any port , or an encounter with any official without the appropriate visa could result in denial of entry, or possibly detention and seizure. While foreign Venezuelan consulates can provide instructions and may process visa applications, travel to Venezuela by US flagged yachts or carrying US citizens should be considered at this time to be HIGH RISK.
Passports must be valid for at least 6 months on entry.
For most nationalities, a tourist visa is required in advance if arriving by sea. It is only those visitors arriving by scheduled air carrier who will be issued with a 90 day Tourist Card on arrival.
Ensure that both your passport and visa are stamped on arrival. Do not overstay the 90 days or you may be arrested and fined when departing.
If planning to apply for an extension to your visa, ensure this is done before the existing one expires.
There are convenient Venezuelan consulates in Aruba, Bonaire, Martinique, Barbados, Guyana, Suriname, Trinidad and Grenada.
A passport (or certified copy) should be carried at all times when travelling inland, as the police and military do spot checks.
Last updated March 2015.
Customs authorities may enforce strict regulations concerning temporary importation of items such as firearms, religious materials, antiquities and medications.
Foreign yachts may remain in Venezuela for a period of 18 months, but individuals may only stay for 90 days. This was introduced to allow people to leave their yachts in Venezuela while they returned home. Some of the agents in Puerto de la Cruz and Porlamar are able to extend this time allowance in the passport for a price. These rules are in flux as the marina owners put pressure on the government to realise the importance of the marine tourist industry.
Note - The new 1% tax is NOT applicable to foreign owned and registered cruising yachts, but stringent checks may be made to ensure that the boat complies.
vessel in transit status is not recognised in Venezuela and getting spare parts sent in can be difficult and costly. For this reason many sailors choose to get their repairs done in Trinidad or make sure they bring any necessary parts with them.
Last updated December 2014.
A yellow fever vaccination certificate is required for travelers over nine months old, except in the northern coastal area. The cities of Caracas and Valencia are not in the endemic zone.
Malaria prophylaxis and typhoid vaccinations are recommended. There is bilharzia in some rivers, so swimming in fresh water should be avoided.
Dengue fever is increasingly common and there are epidemics of viral encephalitis at times.
Europe, USA, Barbados and other destinations in the Caribbean require yellow fever vaccination certificates for people arriving from Venezuela.
Precautions should be taken against vampire bats on the coast from Cumana onwards, and also the Chimana Islands, as they may carry the rabies virus. The bats will fly on to a boat at night and bite the sleeping occupants.
Mains water is not drinkable and should be boiled or filtered. Bottled water is available.
There is an entry tax, a departure tax and also a cruising permit fee. These fees vary from state to state, and often also fluctuate even within the same state. Clearance fees in Porlamar increased substantially in December 2010 (see report here), however the situation in Venezuela tends to change on a daily basis.
Clearance Fees for Los Roques in August 2014 can be found here.
There are no overtime fees.
Agent fees for clearance can be substantial, but as a good agent can save a lot of time and bother, one should try to check in advance to determine a good agent and establish their fees before using them for clearance.
There are National Park fees in Los Roques and the Moroccoy Park.
Chartering is illegal in Venezuela, especially to Venezuelan citizens, and can lead to heavy fines or confiscation of the boat. An exception to this rule is when a foreign flag vessel arrives to pick up charter guests from aninternational flight to cruise in Venezuelan waters, these being considered as crew. This practice should be kept very low key.
Isla Orchilla is a military base and one should not approach as there is a restricted area. Las Piedras (Punto Fijo) is a Port Authority base and entry is prohibited. Approx. 25 NM NW of Las Piedras lies the small island of "Los Monges" which is also a Military base.
Los Roques is a National Park and certain restrictions apply to fishing, lobstering or collecting shells.
Animals are not restricted but should have a valid health certificate and anti-rabies vaccination. There is rabies in Venezuela.