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By No owner — last modified Feb 06, 2018 02:56 PM

 Cayman Islands - Formalities



Advance Notification:

"George Town Port Security" should be called on VHF Channel 16 upon entering Cayman Islands waters. This is monitored 24 hours a day. At this time your Q flag should also be raised. They will notify Customs and Immigration and keep you informed regarding boarding of the yacht.

General Process:

The SailClear advance web notification service for clearance is now operational here. Completing the online forms prior to checking in may save time at Customs.

For a full explanation of this service and other web clearance services in the Caribbean see this useful report.

All vessels arriving in the Cayman Islands must first proceed to the George Town Port in Grand Cayman or the Cayman Brac Port for Customs Clearance. Each port has its own procedure for arrivals. Generally you will need to be cleared by Immigration, Customs and Mosquito Control (see Health for more details). No one may leave the boat (even for a swim) and no one may come aboard prior to clearance.

Officials are extremely strict (but friendly!) and insist that procedures are followed to the letter; visiting boats have been fined for the smallest infringement.


Domestic Clearance:

Cruisers may stop at any of the islands during their stay but must clear between them. When leaving one island for another you will need to clear your boat with Customs (although not Immigration) and clear in when you arrive.

International Clearance:

You can clear out at either Grand Cayman or Cayman Brac to an international destination. On departure, contact Customs up to 24 hours in advance. Immigration clearance should be completed in person by all aboard not more than 5 hours before departure.

Last updated:  February 2019


Immigration Procedure:

On arrival Immigration will require: original boat papers including registration documents and boat particulars, clearance from last port of call, a crew list and passports for all crew.

An initial stay of 30 days is usually granted – this can be extended for up to 6 months provided proof of financial means is submitted on arrival or at the Immigration department. Another six months may also be granted.

Keep the immigration card you’re given, you’ll be required to present it to an Immigration Officer upon your departure.

Incoming/Outgoing Crew and Guests:

If crew is leaving by plane, go to the Immigration office with a copy of their airline ticket and the crew member, so they can be removed from your crew list.

If you are picking up crew or guests on Grand Cayman who are on a one-way ticket, give them a letter inviting them to join the boat and a copy of your boat’s clearance papers.

Last updated:  February 2019

Immigration Head Office
94A Elgin Ave, George Town, Cayman Islands


Arriving By Yacht:

Vessel searches are done at the discretion of C. I. Customs and all firearms and spear guns must be declared or they will be confiscated if found and the owner prosecuted for its importation.

The list of prohibited items include (See the official Customs site for full list):

  • Any controlled or illegal drugs or utensils, obscene publications and articles, any goods or items depicting or bearing any reference to ganja (marijuana) or the plant, instruments and appliances for gambling.
  • Lobster, Conch or conch meat in any form is prohibited.
  • Also declare any stocks of alcohol and tobacco on the boat.
  • Live plants and plant cuttings, raw fruits and vegetables are restricted.

Length of Stay:

Vessels are initially granted a stay of 30 days. If staying longer, then an extension must be applied for in writing to the main Customs office by the airport. It may be best to actually visit the office to obtain the correct email address. The correct office is the one upstairs with a separate entrance, not the main office downstairs.

Importing Parts/Spares:

Spare parts can be imported for yachts in transit duty free as long as the import company or Customs officer has a copy of the boat's clearance documents. However, it is not an easy procedure. The imported item has to be collected from the Customs office in the port authority building, not the airport or the cruise terminal. A Customs officer is supposed to accompany you and see the parcel going onto the boat but this requirement might be waived.

Last updated:  February 2019

Customs - Cayman Brac
Govt. Admin Bldg. Stake Bay
Tel:(345) 948-2222
Customs Office
Collector of Customs, Government of the Cayman Islands , P.O. Box 898 GT, Administration (HQ) , 52 Owen Roberts Drive, George Town, Cayman Islands
Tel:+345 949-2473 Fax:+345 945 1573
Customs-Little Cayman
Tel: (345) 948-1051
George Town Sea Port
Port Authority Building Harbour Dr. George Town
Tel:(345) 949-2227 / 244-4981
Opening hours: 8:30 – 16:30 Monday – Friday; 8:30 – 12:00 Saturday


Boats are only ever sprayed for Mosquito Control at the discretion of the local Dept. of Agriculture and/or the Dept. of the Environment, if they are arriving from a country with a known pest or disease that they fear might be transmitted to the local environment or population (such as Dengue, Malaria, Zika, etc., transmitted by the Aedes Aegypti mosquito) and, even then, it is not done regularly.

Grand Cayman has extensive medical facilities, but Little Cayman and Cayman Brac only have small clinics. It's easy to get over-the-counter medicine on Grand Cayman, but more difficult on Cayman Brac or Little Cayman. Treatment is expensive and cash payment may be required up front.

Be aware that Customs officials look for smuggled drugs in medication containers and may check all medications on board. Be sure to carry written prescriptions in generic, not brand-name, form and keep all prescription medications in their original labelled containers.

Vaccine-Preventable Diseases:

Be sure you are up-to-date on routine vaccines.

Food and Water Concerns:

Island water is usually potable, but check with the source.

Ciguatera is present and consumption of fish containing toxins can cause serious illness (paralysis and low blood pressure) and very unpleasant symptoms (itching, numbness, dizziness).

Mosquito-borne Diseases:

Chikungunya, dengue fever, malaria, West Nile virus and Zika virus have been reported.

Because of the risks to pregnancy, travelers should consult the CDC Travelers’ Health website for the most current recommendations for Zika.


Use a repellent containing 20%-30% DEET or 20% Picaridin on exposed skin. Re-apply according to manufacturer's directions.

Wear neutral-coloured (beige, light grey) long-sleeved clothing.

Pre-soak or spray outer layer clothing and gear with permethrin.

Ensure that hatch and window screens work properly.

Parasitic Infections:

Diseases transmitted by sand flies are present.

Plants and animals:

Scorpion fish inhabit shallow reef areas around Cayman.


Patients requiring treatment for decompression illness are treated in George Town, Grand Cayman.

Emergency Numbers:
See Emergencies.

Last updated:  February 2019

Cayman Islands Hospital
#95 Hospital Road George Town
Accident and emergency services, a general practitioner clinic, hyperbaric chamber.


Necessary Documents for the Cayman Islands:

It is recommended to have both the originals and copies of each.

  • Passport for each passenger/ crew member
  • Ship’s documents
  • Passenger and Crew List
  • Clearance from your last port of call.

Last updated:  February 2019


Immigration Fees:

No charge for Immigration.
CI$50 per person for the initial extension of stay. 
CI$100 per person for any further extension requests up to a maximum of 6 months.

Customs Fees: CI$3 for customs forms.

Mosquito Control: CI$25, unless out of hours then CI$75.

Overtime: CI$56 or CI$72 on holidays

Last updated:  February 2019


Yachts are to use fixed moorings only. Boats of less than 60 feet may anchor in sand, as long as no grappling hook is used and no coral is touched. Anchoring is permitted in designated anchorage areas and in replenishment zones.
There are permanent moorings on the west coast of Grand Cayman which is a popular diving area.

Marine Life:
The Cayman Islands have a particularly rich marine life and so strict regulations are in force to protect its beauty. Many indigenous species are protected including sea turtles, iguanas and orchids. In the Marine Parks and Environmental Zones no marine life at all may be taken, although one may fish outside protected areas.

Lobster: The closed season is February 1 to July 31. Only spiny lobster may be taken and six-inch tail length is the minimum size. There is a catch limit of five per person or 15 per boat per day, whichever is less.

Conch: There is a catch limit of 15 per person or 20 per boat per day, whichever is less. No one may buy or receive more than 20 conch from Cayman waters per day.

Grouper: Certain areas off the east end of each of the islands are protected for grouper spawning.

A maximum fine of $5000 and one year in jail can be applied for contravening the regulations. Confiscation of the boat and other equipment may also be ordered. The protected areas and marine parks are clearly marked while full-time officers enforce the rules and can arrest offenders.

The main restrictions are as follows:

  • Damaging coral by anchor or chains is prohibited.
  • No marine life may be taken while scuba diving.
  • No corals or sponges may be removed.
  • A spear gun or seine net may not be used without a licence from the Cayman Marine Conservation Board, and then only in certain areas.
  • The export of live fish and other marine life is prohibited.
  • Fishing with gill nets or poison is prohibited.
  • Dumping anything at all in the sea is prohibited. All yachts need a holding tank.

Other Restrictions:

It is forbidden to discharge ANY waste water into the sea. If you do not have a holding tank, you will need to stay in a marina and always use the facilities ashore.

Please note that the Cayman Islands Law prohibits all forms of public nudity, including topless sunbathing. Many business places also request that you wear shoes and an appropriate cover-up before entering.

Wider Caribbean's Marine Protected Areas (CaMPAM)
A useful database of MPAs in the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean region. All Marine Parks are MPAs, and therefore if wanting to find out about any marine parks in the islands you are visiting, details and location can be sourced via this website.

Local Customs

Local attitudes can be conservative and some people may not approve of public displays of affection between same sex couples. Same sex partnerships, legally binding or otherwise, are not recognised in Cayman law.


Pets must have an Import Licence or valid Animal Passport issued by the Cayman Islands Department of Agriculture, and an Official Health Certificate (issued within 14 days of arrival) The Health Certificate must state:-

  1. Your pet is not infected with any communicable disease and is free from external parasites.
  2. Your pet must be treated with a topical preparation known to have residual action against ticks for at least 14 days.
  3. The pet has not been kept within 30 miles of an area officially quarantined for Foot and Mouth disease during the past 30 days (this does not apply to dogs and cats arriving directly from USA, Canada or UK).
  4. The pet has not been exposed to rabies or has not been present within the last 6 months in an official quarantine rabies area.
  5. The pet has a history of all inoculations (including date and type) such as distemper, rabies (vaccines must have been given within one year of travel to the Cayman Islands.

Prohibited Breeds and Origin Countries:
Breeds such as Malanois, Rottweiller, Japanese Tosa, Dogo Argentino, Fila Brazileiro, Chinese Shar-Pei, Pit Bull Terrior, Japanese Atiko, Staffordshire, Mastiff (all types) are not permitted in the Cayman Islands. Moreover all dogs and cats originating from Asia, Africa, South and Central America, Cuba, Puerto Rica, Haiti and the Dominican Republic are also prohibited.

Further information:
From the Department of Agriculture and Cayman Islands Customs Website.

Department of Agriculture - Veterinary Services
PO Box 459 GT , Grand Cayman Islands
Tel:(345) 947 3090 Fax:(345) 947 2634
Sue Richards
Sue Richards says:
Feb 06, 2018 02:56 PM

Reported by Brian Simm, Sundeer 56 - 29 January, 2018

Grand Cayman Island is not a destination for sailors, unless you are a diver, but rather a stopping point on passage. We were en route from Cuba to Belize. The anchorages are very weather dependent. But once in, almost hurricane proof.

On arrival you should go to Georgetown on the west side. Port security, channels 16, 14, works efficiently 24 hours a day and will give you instructions. There are 5 free moorings 250m north of the port, large red buoys. If all are occupied then ask permission to anchor. Customs and immigration are at the main dock and will normally ask you to go alongside. In our case the port was busy and the harbour patrol boat collected us for check in without docking.

This anchorage is exposed to Northers and if blowing the only recourse is to go to South Sound where there is a landing dock used by cruise ships in poor weather.

The big attraction of Grand Cayman is the large but shallow North Sound entered through a poorly marked pass, position accurate on navionics. This pass is not usable in northers or in any weather above 20 knots or so. We came out in 22 easterly and had to punch through the swell, I would not enter in those conditions. We saw a minimum of 2.7 m in the pass on a 0.2m tide, dropping to 2.4 m close to the entrance to Governors creek.

Anchorages are free and in the sheltered mangrove creeks among the millionaires houses, mostly 2.5 to 3m. Governors creek is a large anchorage area near the Cayman island Yacht club, fuel etc. Further in it leads to Mitchell's creek, also a large area of 3m or so. A more recent alternative is in the large commercial shopping village of Camana Bay, where new canals have been dug.

The pluses on Cayman are superb supermarkets: Duty free fuel, after checkout: and duty free booze from Tortuga in the customs building, delivered to you by the customs on leaving. Otherwise think of it as the most expensive island for living in the Caribbean.

mischa says:
Mar 27, 2017 06:01 PM

We plan to visit the Islands on our small 30ft vessel where there is no holding tank installed and we simply do not have space to install one. I wrote emails to the port authority and the environmental department and both of the confirmed that their laws do NOT require every boat to have a holding tank, just that it is forbidden to discharge ANY waste water into the sea. So if you have no holding tank, but you are going to stay in a marina or always use the facilities ashore, you are good to go. You won't be denied entry because you have no holding tank.

ohana says:
Jan 29, 2017 03:46 AM

We are currently in Cayman, it's a wonderful place to visit and a shame so few yachts stop here. I'd like to correct and update a few things we've learned here:
1. You can stay up to 6 months WITHOUT paying import duty on the yacht. You will initially get 30 days on clearing in, then you need to apply for an extension in writing to the main customs office by the airport. Email is acceptable but it would be best to phone the office via the number on the customs website and ask them who to email it to. When my extension hadn't been issued by day 30 I went personally to the customs office. The correct office is the one upstairs with a separate entrance, not the main office downstairs. I explained that it was the last day and the staff were very helpful and I left with a letter granting the extension. The extension costs 100 cayman dollars per month.

2. Mitchells creek is a great, sheltered place to anchor in 2m, weed and mud but the anchor held well on second attempt. Anchor off the end of Lime Tree Bay road and there are some holes in the corner of the concrete wall there where you can lock your dinghy. Cost U Less big box supermarket is just over the road.

There are a line of free orange mooring buoys off georgetown, to the west of the main dock. If you ask "Port Security" on channel 16 they will usually permit you to stay on them as long as you like. Also free short term mooring buoys at all the dive sites.

The entrance to the stingray city sandbank is just East of Main Channel and marked by small white floats. Main channel itself is usually well buoyed but some buoys were missing at the start of our visit (now replaced).

Make sure to get the free PDF cruising guide from the freecruisingguides website and make use of the waypoints in it to navigate North Sound.

You can get parcels delivered duty free but its a hassle. After trying all the other customs officies I found that they need to be collected from the customs office in the port authority building, not the airport or the cruise terminal. A customs officer is supposed to accompany you and see the parcel going onto the boat but this requirement might be waived.

Cayman is a very friendly place to visit, probably the most developed and "first world" of the caribbean islands. It has a wide range of shops and well stocked supermarkets. AL Thompson is a huge superstore for DIY, hardware, paint etc. etc. and prices are pretty good compared to the chandleries.

Cayman does have good boatyards and chandleries but their prices are excessive and we chose not to use them.

Michael Carroll
Michael Carroll says:
Nov 19, 2016 12:39 PM

My George Town Grand Cayman formalities experience: Directed by "George Town Port Security" to the free orange/blue stripe moorings for overnight, then to north ferry dock in hogsty bay for formalities. 30 day visit from Immigration. 3.5 hour Customs (drug) search. No health inspection. N.B. vessels staying longer than 30 days are subject to 12% import duty.

Franklin Gray
Franklin Gray says:
Jul 31, 2014 12:58 PM

And a note for gun owners, they will inspect your boat with a drug and gun sniffing dog so you will have to declare your guns and they will take them and lock them up, even if you have safes on board. First time that has happened to me so far.

Franklin Gray
Franklin Gray says:
Jul 31, 2014 12:55 PM

Caymans is not a duty free country. Of course, like many countries, you can get duty free parts for your boat but customs really doesn't like to do that and they go out of their way to make it difficult for you, just like every other country.

Also, Harbour House Marina isn't a marina, but a yard with tie ups alone a channel. The WIFI goes down every Saturday night and doesn't come up until Monday morning. A good place to get repairs done though but if you use their shipping, the costs are very high and they use a 1.25 exchange rate if you use Visa to pay.

Check-in is easy but make sure you have some very good fenders as you will be asked to pull your boat up to a concrete dock where wakes are common.

Oh yeah, and everything closes down by 6pm and nothing is open on Sunday.

Sue Richards
Sue Richards says:
May 22, 2014 02:44 PM

We approached Cayman Brac by night and tried to get in touch with the customs but we got no answer. Mr Raymond Scott that works as a Shipping Adviser did answer and helped us to do a safe approach. I wish all countries could have the same service! Makes life a lot easier and safer for us sailors! The Ship adviser also helped us out with contacting the customs and immigration so that we could clear in- Thank you for this service!
Daniel & Anna

patricia920 says:
May 08, 2014 12:26 PM

Fuel. You can get discounted, tax free fuel after you get your departure papers. A substantial savings. However to get fuel at the Govt. dock is a disaster in the making. I would never do it again no matter what the savings.

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