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New Clearance Procedures for Ecuador - Update

By Sue Richards last modified Feb 07, 2009 11:26 AM

Published: 2009-02-07 11:26:26
Countries: Ecuador

At the start of 2008 a relaxing of regulations in Ecuador was announced following negotiations between the authorities and yachting interests in the country. It meant that yachts making clearance at Puerto Amistad, Puerto Lucia YC, Salinas YC and Guayaquil YC did not require an agent to clear-in, instead the yacht clubs effectively served as agents.

Unfortunately, for 2009, this arrangement has been revoked, and rules regarding agents have changed. Officially, an agent is now necessary to deal with entry procedures in every port of Ecuador (yacht club staff are no longer permitted to deal with this).

The Ecuadorian Customs (Corporación Aduanera Ecuatoriana) have sent an official communication to the Camara Maritima del Ecuador, indicating that all international merchant commercial ships and tourist yachts in transit, must be registered in the Customs computerized system called Sistema Interactivo de Comercio Exterior (SICE). An agent is required to represent the vessel, and will coordinate the registration of the vessel in the SICE, as well as in the Maritime Traffic Information System (SITRAME).

Currently, agencies are charging each tourist yacht US$150, plus taxi transportation for the local authorities.

Linda Lane Thorton, who recently arrived at Puerto Lucia YC told noonsite; “This morning we were visited by five officials - the agent, an immigration policeman, a customs officer, a port authority officer and a doctor. The cost has increased from the US$60 we paid last June to US$238. We were told that we would have to go through this procedure and pay this fee at EVERY port we visit in Ecuador.”

The official communication does not indicate if an Agency is required for every port, if for example a yacht chooses to cruise around Ecuador. However a representative of Puerto Lucia YC told noonsite, “My opinion is, if a boat leaves a Port Captain’s jurisdiction, it will require an Agency to clear into the next port. For instance, if a sailboat leaves Salinas for Esmeraldas”.

As in many other countries, the Ecuadorian Maritime Regulations has no provisions addressing the important difference between an international merchant commercial ship, and a tourist/ family/ sport/ recreation yacht. Although the Ministry of Tourism of Ecuador have made assurances that new regulations for private yachts will come into effect, there is no firm dateline. Meanwhile, all marinas and visiting yachts must comply with this new official communication.

Puerto Lucia YC also told noonsite, “We have had three yachts arrived since February 1st., and they have been cleared in about four hours. If a yacht arrives during a holiday or weekend, it may take longer, perhaps 24 hours for the local authorities to clear it. To clear out, if the yacht is not in the SITRAME, or the Captain or crew visa has expired, or have any other special circumstance, such as extended stay of two or more years, the paperwork may take longer. However, hundreds of yachts have checked out of our marina, and all have left without major difficulties”.

Visiting yachts intending to arrive at Puerto Lucia YC should report directly to the yacht club on VHF Ch:16 (08:00 to 18:00hrs) as soon as the yacht is in radio range. Normally the yacht will be asked to anchor a short safe distance from the marina lighthouse on the starboard side past the entrance. If arriving outside working hours, the yacht must anchor outside the entrance buoy and clear in the following morning. The Yacht Club and the agency will arrange for the Authorities to come on board the yacht, having helped with the preparation of the necessary documents.

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