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By No owner — last modified Aug 16, 2018 07:23 AM

 Galapagos - Formalities


Formalities requirements in the Galapagos can change on a daily basis. Noonsite endeavours to post details of the latest known situation.

Since 2015 there are no longer single-port arrivals, nor 20-day arrivals. You can only enter these islands with an Autógrafo. Autógrafos must be applied for via an agent at least 60 days in advance of your arrival. With this you can move between populated ports.

Every yacht arriving in the Galapagos with an Autógrafo must arrive first at Puerto Baquerizo Moreno, Isla San Cristóbal (Wreck Bay), as this is the capital of the province.

Boats that enter without an Autógrafo are placed under “Arribo Forzoso” (forced stop) and are subject to the decision of the Port Captain as to how long they can stay, or if indeed they are permitted to stop. There are two types of “Arribo Forzoso”:

1. EMERGENCY STOP (Arribo Forzoso) - 72 hours

In the case of a real emergency such us mechanical, medical or other reasons (properly verified by the Maritime Authority) you will be allowed to stop in one of the 2 inhabited ports with repair facilities (Puerto Ayora and Puerto Baquerizo Moreno). It is only permitted to stop at Puerto Villamil if the other 2 inhabited ports cannot be reached.  

The length of stay is up to the Port Captain's discretion. You will need to use an agent to complete the necessary paperwork. After the 3rd day you must pay all government fees.

Do not use this option as a free pass to "see the sights" as this will only cause problems and quite possibly bring stricter controls into play and prevent those from stopping in an emergency who really need to.

2. ONE PORT STOPOVER - (Arribo Forzoso) - Up to 7 days

This option is only allowed in Wreck Bay, Puerto Baquerizo. It is for yachts who wish to re-fuel, take on provisions, fresh water and possibly quick repairs.

Again, the length of stay is up to the Capitania de Puerto's discretion (it could be up to 7 days). You will need to use an agent to complete the necessary paperwork and you must pay all government fees.

Obviously the disadvantage of this option is that you are not allowed to travel to other ports with your own boat.


  • The Galapagos does not recognise or allow the normal 72 hour breathing space to rest etc. before checking in. They allow 12 hours only, however in the first 12 hours you can take on provisions and water.



Yachts arriving with an Autógrafo in hand, are given up to 30 days stay, with the possibility of a 30 day extension.

The first port of call in the Galapagos must be San Cristóbal, as this is the capital of the province. Yachts with an Autógrafo may also be able to visit the following inhabited ports:

- Pto. Ayora, Isla Santa Cruz (Academy Bay)
- Pto. Villamil, Isla Isabela
- Pto. Seymour, Isla Baltra
- Pto. Ibarra, Isla Floreana

Cruisers who have obtained an Autógrafo will automatically be issued a National Zarpe for the Galapagos.

As well as the Autógrafo, a number of documents and certificates are required in order to visit the Galapagos. For full details see Documents.


Ports of Entry

Boats must proceed directly to the official Port of Entry: Puerto Baquerizo in San Cristobal.

Isabela, Puerto Villamil, is not an official Port of Entry and there are hardly any services there (no fuel or ATM) and no Immigration official. It is however available for emergencies as indicated in point 1 above, and yachts with an Autógrafo can leave the country from Isabela, if they cover the expenses (approx. USD 100) of sending an immigration official there to stamp the Passports on departure.

Yachts arriving should not stop anywhere but a Port of Entry, nor must anyone go ashore in the national park without an official guide (except for a handful of sites where access without a guide is permitted - see Restrictions). Yachts may be boarded at any time to check if one has a guide. The penalty is a fine for stopping at outer islands without permission. All the local boats have guides on board who are in radio contact with the port authority and will immediately report any yacht breaking the regulations.


Under current law in all ports of Ecuador it is mandatory to use an agent to check in with the port captain for any stay of more than 1 day. That includes the Galapagos islands.

The agent acts as a go-between for your dealings with the port captain and he will collect the fees for your entry into the harbour.

Note: If wanting to organise an Autógrafo, then be sure to secure an agent at least 2 months prior to arrival, as it normally takes 6 weeks to process all paperwork. If not, it may still be beneficial to contact an agent in advance of your visit so that your details are in the system and you are aware of all costs. This is not mandatory but it is advisable to have previously arranged an agent. The Agent's fees vary. This fee is sometimes negotiable and it's up to you to decide which agent you take.

It is important to get a clear statement from the agent which charges his fee covers. See fees section for the various charges applicable in the Galapagos.

On completion of the clearing in procedure the agent must give you the original "factura", which is a receipt from the port captain detailing the fees charged. It should not be a photocopy.

Noonsite does not recommend any particular agent but there is a list of Clearance agents here. It can be useful to look at reports from cruisers for their various experiences.

Other Clearance Procedures

You will be boarded by a number of officials either all at once or at different times, and usually on the same day as each other - but sometimes not. Be patient - your agent will guide you through the procedure. Officials will include Galapagos National Park officials, an official from the Ministry of Environment, possibly a Doctor (at the HM's discretion) and an official from the Harbour Master. Expect anything from 6-10 officials in total.

It is possible the Navy will come on board to do an inspection, and check for foreign food, animals, guns and contraband.

Environmental Checks (GNP Inspection)

As of January 2014, all yacht arrivals will be subject to an Environmental Risk Assessment. These new rules give approval to conduct an interview with the captain on arrival and will include a hull inspection of the boat by a diver from the GNP. It is, therefore, advisable to have the hull thoroughly (perhaps professionally) cleaned prior to leaving your previous port and to even have a certificate showing it has been done, if possible. Also do your own hull inspection (if conditions allow) before arrival.

A certificate showing when the last coating of anti-fouling was applied may also be requested.

The cost of the  GNP inspection is borne by the visitor and is charged per person on board.  The ministerial approval also gives the GNP the authority to demand that if a yacht fails to meet their requirements (reasonable level of risk), they must leave the Galapagos Marine Reserve. If assessed (and it can take up to 3 days to know if you have passed or not), you may be required to exit the marine reserve (40 miles offshore), carry out remedial cleaning work on your hull and re-enter.

If moving between islands, be sure to check your hull before arriving in the next port as you may be inspected on arrival there as well (for example going from San Cristobal to Santa Cruz).

The black water system will be checked and a notice must be posted below saying " Do not discharge Black waters into the sea" (this must be near the engine room).

A second notice must be posted on the outside stating "Do not throw garbage overboard".

The fresh food on board may be inspected.

A Fumigation Certificate must be produced. See the Documents section below for details.

An AIS Certificate is required. Your tracking system must be switched on and active while you are in Galapagos waters.

Also to be carried on board:-

1) Absorbent towels, for fuel, in case of a spillage.

2) Biodegradable or Ecofriendly soap.

See Noonsite/Galapagos/Documents page below for further details.

Pre-Medical Inspection

You and your crew may be asked to have a medical inspection by a doctor (at the Harbour Master's discretion). Normally this happens if you have come from a country that is suffering an epidemic. There is a cost for this inspection.


The port captain will issue a domestic zarpe for the next port. The agent will handle the clearing out so let him know a couple of days before to be sure it all goes smoothly.

Last updated:  March 2019


Passports must be valid for 6 months beyond your stay. You will need colour copies of the passports and ships papers. Take your crew with you.

Crew visas are country dependent.

Nationals of the following countries require a visa and should approach the Consulate of Ecuador of their residence (list may change without notice): Algeria, Bangladesh, Costa Rica, Cuba, El Salvador, Guatemala, India, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Lybia, Nicaragua, Nigeria, North Korea, Pakistan, Palestine Authority, Panama, People's Republic of China, Sri Lanka, Syria, Tunisia and Vietnam.

Nationals of other countries do not require a visa for stays of up to 90 days or will be granted a T-3 card on arrival also valid for 90 days.

It is now a requirement that all visitors have health insurance cover.

See Fees for current immigration charges.

Crew leaving the vessel in the Galapagos do not have their passports stamped when the boat departs. The passport gets stamped when the crew leaves by plane. There is no other paperwork.

Last updated July 2018.


Firearms must be declared and will be sealed on board.

If ordering spare parts to be delivered to the Galapagos, expect long delays with Ecuador customs. Cruisers have reported waiting 3 weeks for an express delivery, claiming “yacht in transit” will save some duty costs, but will also slow the process further. Duty charges might run to 33% or more depending on the item.

See also the Restrictions section on this page.

Last updated March 2018.


Water Quality Issues
Despite recent improvements in infrastructure, there are still problems with the potable water system in the Galapagos Islands – specifically on San Cristobal. A recent study found that there were still contaminations (including E.Coli bacteria) in the potable water distribution systems.

It is strongly advised that you treat or boil all water that is intended for human consumption. Be careful eating fruits and vegetables that have been washed in potable water.


Your agent will list the documents required from you. These will include:-

Passport details, boat registration details, fumigation certificate, black water certification for the boat (can be a statement from the skipper regarding presence of holding tank).

Autografo or Cruising Permit

Those who wish to stop longer in the archipelago (longer than 7 days), and/or visit more than their Port of Entry on their own boat, must obtain an autographo (cruising permit). These can be obtained for between 1 and 5 ports and must be applied for through an agent.

The procedure for obtaining an autographo is lengthy (between 6 and 8 weeks) but can be done by email and fax and many cruisers say it was well worth the effort. Note that the authorities have a quota for yachts, of between four and six per month, although these quotas change from year to year. Therefore applications for autographos may not always be successful. Apparently large crews of more than four or five are not desired, as they are suspected of being on an unofficial charter. Any type of chartering by foreign yachts in the national park is not permitted.

Each Autographo is always an individual permit and itineraries are customised. Some agents for example, will "allow" Floreana as one of the 5 ports if applying for a 5 port autographo, others not. Also note that each port on the itinerary can only be visited once, it is not a permit to just cruise wherever you want.

On each island there are limited "free" sites where cruisers can visit without an official guide. However, if intending to explore the National Park in depth, an Official Naturalist Guide has to be hired at a fee of $200 per person per day, and has to be paid to the national park + all the administration fees. The process is long and expensive. There are about 40 places around the islands where tourists with guides may go ashore.

The regulations for pleasure craft are very specific:

  • According to Article 50 of the Special Law for the Conservation and Sustainable Development of the Galapagos province of 18 of March 1998, every foreign, non-commercial vessel in transit, with a maximum of 10 persons, can visit any one of the inhabited ports for up to a maximum of 20 days. To visit the National Park areas, they can leave their ship in any selected port and utilise the services of a local tourist operator. In such a case, each person is required to pay to the Galapagos National Park Service a park entrance fee of $US100 for every person older than 12 years and US$50 for children under 12. The Park entrance fee does not include the tariffs related to anchorage fees, which must be paid to the port captain, nor any payments required by the immigration authorities.

Those who do not intend to visit any of the National Park areas will be considered to be a vessel in transit. This comes under the international rules that permit the entry of vessels to international ports for a minimum time of 72 hours and therefore would not require additional procedures to enter Galapagos territorial waters.

  • Should an interested person wish to visit the National Park areas with their own vessel, they are subject to other regulations as follows:

    a) They must have the entry permit from the relevant naval organization to enter territorial waters. According to the stipulations of the article 138 of the Galapagos National Park Administrative Statute, vessels with a capacity of up to 30 persons must have the authorisation of the National Park Administration Office.

    b) On arrival at the islands, they must inform the port captain and pay the correspondent tariffs for lights, buoys and anchorage fee. Additionally they must complete immigration formalities.

    c) The visitor entry fee must be paid at the National Park office. They will receive an itinerary to the visitors sites within the park based on the availability due to site capacity standards.

    d) Additionally, every vessel that wishes to visit National Park areas under this system must contract the services of a licensed guide authorised by the National Park Service. This guide will sleep on board and accompany the shore party BUT as no dinghy may be left on the shore, one crew member will be required to remain with the yacht.

    e) According to article 142 of the mentioned statute, every vessel that comes to the Galapagos Islands must submit to quarantine inspections and present the fumigation certificate of the last port of call.

    f) Changes in the original crew entering Galapagos is not permitted except in the case of emergencies.

Fumigation, Sanitation and Garbage Documents

The Ministry of Environment official is interested in fumigation and sanitation. He will want to see a fumigation certificate and a sanitation certificate.

Fumigation Certificate

You must have a fumigation certificate from the last port. Certificates from Panama are accepted but it must confirm the following:

  • The vessel was fumigated against insects, rats, mosquitos, etc.
  • Method of fumigation
  • Used products
  • Quantity (dosage)
  • Date of fumigation
  • Date of expiry
  • It also must be valid during the whole stay in the Galapagos.

Your certificate may or may not be deemed sufficient. If not, your boat will have to be sprayed in the Galapagos for an additional charge. It does not appear to be a problem arriving without a fumigation certificate and getting it done in the Galapagos (cost approx. $80). Fumigation does not cause any damage and is a similar spray to that used in aeroplanes.

Sanitation Certificate

A sanitation certificate (black water holding tank confirmation) can be self-certified. This can be as simple as a statement from the skipper that the boat has a holding tank for sewage and black water. Make your own including details of your holding tanks then sign, date it and ideally boat stamp it. In addition, there must be posted below (near the engine compartment) a notice stating ' Do not discharge Black waters into the sea '

A certificate showing that the hull was professionally cleaned before leaving your previous port is also advisable.


Garbage needs to be divided into organic, recyclable or trash.

On the outside of the boat there must be a notice posted stating ' Do not throw garbage overboard'

Last updated March 2018.


Various fees need to be paid and do vary from port to port and agent to agent. All official expenses have to be paid in “cash” on the islands, paying with a credit card is not an option.

Break down of Clearance Fees
These are approximate, they do tend to vary a little depending on which agent you use:

Entry Fee for Private Yachts (NEW 2018): Approx. US$142 per vessel

Port Captain: US$10 x Gross Tonnage (estimated fee)

Port Captain Entrance Fee (1st port in the Galapagos): US$47

Immigration (Galapagos Migratory Card): US$20 per person
Immigration check in fee: US$15.60 per vessel
Immigration check out fee: US$15.60 per vessel

National Park Entrance Fee: US$100 per adult
National Park Entrance Fee: US$50 per child (under 12 years)
National Park Technical Hull Inspection: US$50 x no. of crew members

Biosecurity / Sanitary Inspection: US$100 per vessel
Biosecurity / Sanitary Inspection: US$200 (for larger vessels)

If you have an "Autografo" and sail from inhabited port to inhabited port, there are local arrival and departure fees.

Local Arrival Zarpe: US$15.75 
Local Departure Zarpe: US$15.75

Overtime Fees
Overtime must be paid outside office hours, 08:00-17:00 Monday to Friday, at weekends or during local holidays. The overtime fees are almost double the normal fee. Request that your agent complete clearance DURING office hours.

Agent Fees
The choice of which agent you use is entirely yours to make. The fees for the agent are not fixed.

For a one-port stop (including port captain and Immigration, taxis and copies of passports), US$200-250 is the normal asking price for an average size yacht.

Agent fees for an autographo are between $450 - $650.

It is not uncommon to get fees reduced if you negotiate. If the fees asked for are unacceptable you may ask for another agent. Ask for a clear breakdown of which fees your agent is including in his total cost.

National Park Cruising Fees
This is $200 per person, per day. You will hear this high dollar figure quoted occasionally. This daily fee DOES NOT apply to the average cruiser who is moving from island to island, anchoring in the major ports. It only applies to yachts who want to actually cruise the park areas outside the major ports.

These boats are also required to take on a licensed guide who will cost between $250 and $350 or more per day. The highest costs are charged for the more knowledgeable and private yacht experienced multi-lingual guides.

Fumigation Fee
A fumigation fee of $70 may be charged on boats that stay longer than 72 hours. If yachts arrive without a fumigation certificate, the fee to obtain one in the Galapagos is $4 per metre of the yacht's length.

Other Fees

Municipal fees are occasionally collected in the main ports and always collected from incoming passengers at one of the two airports.

Garbage disposal: US $30.

All fees quoted here are in US$ and are subject to change by the Ecuadorian government without notice.

Last updated:  February 2019


Environmental Risk Assessment

In January 2014, the Galapagos National Park received ministerial approval to make law its rules applying to the arrival of foreign boats in the Galapagos Marine Reserve. The changes give approval to conduct an interview with the captain on arrival to complete an environmental risk assessment of each boat.

The assessment of risk is now known to include an inspection of the hull of each boat with a diver from the GNP. The inspection could simply be a look from the surface, a snorkel of your hull or an actual dive with tanks – it seems to be luck of the draw. It is  advisable to have your hull thoroughly, perhaps professionally, cleaned before departing for the Galapagos and, if possible, to have a certificate to show this has been done. To be extra sure, weather permitting, jump in and give the boat a final clean 50 miles offshore. Filming the cleaning and taking pictures will also provide proof that your boat is not a problem.

The cost of this is borne by the visitor and the fee is $50 per person on board. The ministerial approval also gives the GNP the authority to demand that if a yacht fails to meet their requirements (reasonable level of risk), they must leave the Galapagos Marine Reserve. If assessed (and it can take up to 3 days to know if you have passed or not), you may be required to exit the marine reserve (40 miles offshore), at your own expense, carry out remedial cleaning work on your hull and re-enter.

Other Restrictions

Yachts are forbidden to anchor anywhere but in the official ports on each island and each of these places must be listed on your itinerary. Plan carefully as you may not be allowed to back-track.

NOTE: The National Park area and Marine Reserve extends 40 miles out from a line drawn between the outermost point of each island.

Map © National Geographic Society

Vessels arriving in Galapagos entering the protection zone established by law, i.e. 40 nautical miles from the baseline, are subject to regulations governing the transport of products that may endanger Galapagos.

Only waste for recycling can be left on the islands. This is not collected from boats (except in Puerto Ayora) and must be taken by taxi to the recycling centre and paid to be disposed of. All waste on board must be separated into organic, recyclable and trash.

In order to prepare your waste properly en-route to the Islands, read this article by the WWF on how to reduce your human footprint.

Lifejackets must be worn when using a dinghy.

The following sites are those that can be visited on your own without a day tour or certified Naturalist guide on the 3 main islands:

San Cristóbal
Playa Ochoa
Cerro tijeretas
Cerro chino
Laguna el junco

Santa Cruz
Media Luna (highlands - The tortoise reserve)
Las grietas
Tortuga bay
Los túneles

The wall of tears
Las tintoreras


It is illegal for foreigners ("extranjeros") to buy fuel at the Ecuadorian subsidised price. The International price for foreigners is approximately double this local price.

Agents can supply fuel; US$6 per gallon (2014), including US$1 for the agent organising delivery to your yacht via means of jerry cans (which he will supply).

Alternatively, the Capitania will issue a permit for you to independently go to a filling station with jerry cans. Including the cost of the water taxi and taxi to the filling station, this is still cheaper than using an agent, although considerably harder work.

Large fines have been levied or threatened for breaking these laws.

Note that the maximum amount of diesel supplied to each visiting yacht is 400 gallons (without additional paperwork). To apply for more than 400 gallons you must use an agent, who will submit the paperwork to the Navy.

It is necessary to have on board absorbent towels in case of a spillage of fuel.


Drone use is banned in Galapagos unless you have a permit that allows you to use drones for commercial purposes or research. Operators with a permit must ensure that they the laws when flying in Galapagos.

General Rules:

  • Only visit protected areas within the Galapagos National Park accompanied by a GNPD authorized naturalist guide.
  • Stay on the trails. The trails at all visitor sites are very well marked and your guides will make sure you follow this rule. It helps preserve the natural habitats and keeps both you and the wildlife safe.
  • Stay at least 6 feet away from wildlife (even if they approach you). This is the best way to avoid disturbing them.
  • Never give food to any wildlife.
  • No smoking.

Last updated: April 2019

Clearance Agents

Gala Yachts Services
Academy Bay and , San Cristobal, Wreck Bay , Galapagos
Tel:+ 593 999 11 6066 - 24/7 ,VHF Channel 16
Clearance, technical assistance, free internet at office, tours arranged etc. Contact: Antonio Moreano.
Galapagos Yacht Agency
6306 SW 23 St. Suite 100 , Miramar Fl 33023 , USA
Tel:Toll Free 1-800-426 0802 / Mobile: 305-332 3099 Fax:954-967 2547
Contact: Fernando Espinoza (head office USA - Puerto Ayora in Galapagos). Looking after yachts since 1990.
J C Soto
VHF Channel 67
Bolivar Pesantes' (Naugala) representative on Isabela.
Naugala - Galapagos Marine Company
St.Cristobal, Isabella, St.Cruz
Tel:0994205158 Fax:593-5-2520846
Operates on all islands. Contact: Bolivar Pesantes Palma. Limited in his English.
Rositas services
Tel:(593-5)520526/520106 ,VHF Channel 62
Operates from Wreck Bay. Contact: Gustavo Hernandez.
Sea Masters Group - Yacht Support for Galapagos
Tel:+(593) 999 11 6066
12 years of looking after superyachts - 2017 have begun to work with smaller cruising yachts.
Servigalapagos (Superyacht Galapagos)
Tel:+593 999 480 859 [24hrs] ,VHF Channel 09
Contact: Ricardo Arenas. General Agency, fuel, permits, services authorized in all ports (Puerto Ayora, Puerto Baquerizo, Puerto Villamil and Baltra).
Yachtgala - Galapagos Yacht Services
Seymour Avenue and Fragata Street No. 363 , Puerto Ayora , Galapagos - Ecuador
Tel:+593 (0) 53 014 425 / Cell: +593 (0) 987 229 577 ,VHF Channel 07
Opening hours: 24/7
Contact: Javier Plúa Rizzo. Operates on all islands and inhabited ports. Email:


There is no national or international law that prevents a sailboat from having a pet on board during its stay in the Galapagos. While on board, with its proper documentation, pets can remain in non-protected areas without any problem.

The pet can not go ashore under any circumstances.

By law when you enter the Galapagos under the Autografo, a sailor may not bring any living plants or living animals into the protected areas.

Previously this law had been relaxed/overlooked to accommodate pets which were quarantined to their yacht while in protected areas. However, in 2018 a yacht disregarded these laws: they disembarked their dog on a paddleboard and paddled around the bay. They also took pictures, made videos and posted on Facebook, Instagram etc.

As a result - 'no pets' in protected areas - is now being strictly enforced by both the authorities and locals.

For boats in transit or making an emergency stop, pets may still be quarantined (at the discretion of the authorities), but some agents are advising against all pets.

Last updated:  April 2019

Charles Ferault
Charles Ferault says:
Feb 25, 2019 05:41 PM

We spent a month and a half in Galapagos from jan 12th to feb 23rd.

We hired Javier Piua Rizzo from YachtGala as an agent and everything was perfect.
We paid about $2200 for the autografo, the extension above the 30 days limit and all the agency fees, government fees etc. Javier has an American, Equatorian and PayPal account which makes it really simple. All was payable upon arrival, no money to pay in advance.

We had to do the initial entry in Puerto Baquerizo on San Cristobal, were we met Carmela Romero, his agent on the island. She handled everything for us, and took care of the trash for free for the duration of our stay. Our fumigation certificate was outdated, but the guy in charge was nice enough to give us a new one without doing it for real, we still had to pay the extra $120, but the inside of the boat wasn't ruined.
The sanitary inspection is very weird, we had chia seeds in two bottles, one labeled "chia" and the other labeled "rice", and the first one was taken (obviously), but. they did not take the second one ! The bottom of the hull must be really really clean as well, a diver will check almost every squared centimetre of the boat. If you don't comply with this, you'll have to sail 40nm away (they check it on the AIS), and do it in open water (which is not really fun).

When we sailed from island to island, we always had the zarpes in less than 5 hours, which was really nice, and no problem at all when we arrived. All the security checks were handled by the local agent: Danny Bunenao on Santa Cruz and Steven on Isabela. The tarps were $15,75 for the clearance out and another 15,75 for the clearance in.
Yachtgala seems a bit overpriced compared to other agencies, but the service is worth it. Javier speaks perfect English if needed, and has very well done documents about everything important there: how to get fuel, were to anchor exactly, what to do and not to do etc. The rules there can be pretty strange, so those documents are more useful than what they look like !

They also organised some repairs on the boat with a carpenter and an electrician at no additional cost, and were always available whenever we had a problem or a question.

I would strongly recommend this agency if the extra money can be afforded.

Filip Makowski
Filip Makowski says:
Aug 16, 2018 06:39 AM

Based on recommendations here, we engaged Bolivar Pesantes as our agent in May 2018. Unfortunately we did not have a good experience.

As svblueeye noted, Bolivar told us that we needed an autographo as the one-port stop without autographo was no longer possible. He emailed us an itemised list of fees and we went ahead. An hour before arriving in San Cristobal at 11am we notified Bolivar of our impending arrival but had to wait til 3pm for his response which meant check-in with the officials the next day. Not a huge deal, but we know others had to wait a long time too. The biggest problems:
1. Bolivar overcharged us. When he asked us to pay the full amount (cash of course!) before the officials arrived, we didn’t have internet access to check against his emailed list of fees. When we did, we found he had overcharged us $170. Total $2095 instead of $1925, so already more expensive than any other agent we contacted. He also didn’t mention that we would need to pay an extra $200 when checking out of Isabela.
2. Bolivar did quote the fees that needed to be paid between the three islands of San Cristobal, Santa Cruz and Isabela but didn’t tell us we needed to get zarpes (clearances) when travelling between each island. Once we discovered the above overcharged amount, we emailed Bolivar to check whether this was was to cover the inter-island fees, but didn’t hear back. When his agent Ronny Sanchez came to our boat in Santa Cruz, we said as far as we knew we had sorted everything with Bolivar and didn't need to pay any more money. Again, Ronny did not mention the need for zarpes.

When we arrived in Isabela, the Port Captain said this had happened before - Bolivar overcharging yachties and failing to mention and complete the zarpe process. The Port Captain asked us to file a formal complaint, which we did.

We're still unsure as to whether or not the middle option at the top of this page is still possible, one-port stop without autographo. We will post an update if we hear back from the Port Captain, but while we have limited internet access we wanted to post our experiences of dealing with Bolivar. After discussing with other yachties over the past two months, we found that they had similar experiences but did not want to post here on noonsite. I know it doesn't feel nice to complain especially to contradict positive comments, but I'd encourage you to, so that our big community of sailors can find out about these things. We're "all in the same boat"!

Mike Milota
Mike Milota says:
Jul 27, 2018 10:09 PM

We visited the Galapagos in February/March 2018 and used Ricardo Arenas as the agent. Arrival at San Cristóbal was smooth. His representative (Carmela Romano) met our boat 20 minutes after we anchored and all the officials came on board at 8 am the next day. When we wanted to fuel, she had it delivered to the boat in 45 minutes at $3.75/gal. She was helpful in directing us to various services and got the zarpe in a timely manner. We could not have been happier.

At Santa Cruz, Stefanie was less accommodating. She came out for our zarpe shortly after we arrived, but didn’t return until the next day, leaving us not knowing when she would return. She was late getting our zarpe to Isabela and told us to go to the port captain’s office upon arrival. We did and were scolded for leaving the boat and told that we had to have an agent and should not have gotten off the boat. Fortunately, we were helped through this by another agent not representing Arenas, James Hinkle. Evidently Arenas pulls this stunt frequently and has no one representing him on Isla Isabela.

James can be found at the Booby Trap bar and restaurant and is a great resource. He bailed us out of a bad situation. The Booby Trap has good food, too. Isabela is no longer a port of entry and there is no immigration on the island. We paid and agent to come from Santa Cruz. Although it started well, I would not use Arenas again as an agent.

Sue Richards
Sue Richards says:
Mar 06, 2018 09:09 PM

Local Galapagos Authorities are now charging a new TAX for sailboats entering the Galapagos. Known as a "VESSELS CONTROL PASS" it costs US$140.00 - to be paid in cash on arrival. This is in addition to the current fees.

svblueeye says:
May 17, 2017 04:35 PM

It goes without saying that things change in the archipelago often, but this is what we learnt from our visit to the Galapagos in May 2017.
- We contacted Bolivar about using his agency services for our desired 20-day stopover. He told us - unless there was a significant amount lost in translation - boats could only visit the Galapagos with an autographo.
- We contacted Johnny Romero and he said the one port stop was fine, and even said we could go to Isabella, as we initially desired, and there would be no issues with clearance and with obtaining diesel. We changed our minds about Isabella, which is lucky because he emailed our satphone as we were en route to say that we must in fact come to Santa Cruz. Once we were there, it seemed we had no choice but to stay, which was alright by us as we had engine troubles. Unfortunately for some friends of ours on another boat, they arrived in Isabella under the admission of Johnny, only to swiftly asked to leave for Santa Cruz where they must clear in. They then also had to stay there.
- We never actually met Johnny Romero, but dealt with his agent Javier who was friendly and competent.
- The inspection for us - and for other boats we talked to - was very relaxed. One official snorkelled around the boat with a GoPro, which had us very worried as a lot of our antifoul had been sacrificed in our scrubbing, but he deemed everything satisfactory.
- Of the four other officials on board, they checked nothing in any detail and only asked us to fill in paperwork and tell them how long we'd like to stay. However, they did note that the boat was clean and that the garbage disposal system was in place, so these aspects are clearly important. Everybody, as we had read to expect, was very friendly.
- It was not at all a problem that we had not been fumigated (we didn't want to waste the money in Panama after reports that a fumigation certificate there is invalid in the Galapagos - we cannot confirm whether or not this would have been the case in Santa Cruz). We paid $80 to be fumigated the next day, which took no time at all and was very easy to arrange through our agent.
- Diesel is $3.50 per gallon if delivered to the boat, and you have to pay for a $50 fuel permit. All in cash. Alternatively, you can obtain this permit from your agent and take jerry cans in a taxi to the gas station, where it was $1 per gallon at our time of being there. For some reason we still had to pay $2 per gallon as per the fuel permit, but it was worth it for the money we saved and only an hour of work.
- Also, we were able to use our dinghy and the dinghy dock in Santa Cruz. There is a risk of a sea lion making a bed of it, though this only happened to us once over three weeks. Otherwise it is $0.80 per person for the taxis who you can call on Channel 14.

Overall, we would still recommend boats prepared for a vigorous inspection - particularly if going to San Cristobal where perhaps it is more strict - despite our experience. The state of the hull and the cleanliness of the cabin, along with the garbage disposal system, appear to be top of the priorities for the inspectors. Speak to your agent before you arrive and ensure you stay in constant contact with them during your passage over, and your time there.

Most of all, enjoy. It is a sensational place, which you can read about in our blog at:

Alasdair says:
May 23, 2016 06:01 PM

Today we leave one of the most amazing places we have ever visited...
We used Johnny Romero as our agent he was excellent and is also the agent for Fed Ex and TNT which proved very useful when we needed parts delivered, however be aware that he is not good at replying to email...don't panic he will have organised things, he just will not tell you...
We had to stay here for an extra few weeks, six weeks in total and my advice would be to plan to stay here for as long as you can...It is worth it.
A couple of people who also helped us and might prove useful...
Luis Veno. Mechanic +593 984174370. Fixed the waterpump on our Volvo Penta and was excellent value. Santa Cruz
Martin Schreyerg +593 998795455,can solve most problems, speaks great English. Santa Cruz
James Hunkle, Booby Trap Cafe, Isabela. Channel 67 VHF. Again can solve most problems
My final point. Do not be put off by the cost or the hoops you have to jump through. It is worth it when you get here and all the officials have been charming and helpful to us.

Sue Richards
Sue Richards says:
Mar 08, 2016 09:34 AM

Arriving in the Galapagos without an Autographo:
Some yachts have reported from the Galapagos that they have encountered problems arriving with a clearance from Panama to the Galapagos. Read noonsite's formalities information carefully before arrival. Yachts arriving at the Galapagos without an Autographo and no agent pre-arranged, are considered "in transit" and should have a clearance from Panama to the next foreign port after the Galapagos (e.g. Marquesas).

SVJoana says:
Apr 03, 2015 07:23 PM

We are about to leave Galapagos and I would be remiss if I did not offer my comments. We used the agent Johnny Romero to obtain an Autographo, for 1 month (all we needed) and 3 ports. Admittedly, it was a bit pricey, but it is mostly government fees, and proportional to boat length, tonnage and the number of crew. In our case, we arrived with 5 people, 3 people flew out, and 1 crew flew in to join us for our sail to the Marquesas. We cleared in at Cristobal, sailed to Santa Cruz and then at Isabella. Johnny's sister and brother took care of our clearances and tour on Cristobal. We met Johnny himself at Santa Cruz, where he took are of formalities and diesel (pumped into our tanks). He also took care of our Zarpe to Isabella and finally, our International clearance to leave Isabella. Johnny is a very well connected and efficient clearance agent. I can positively recommend him and dealing with him has been a very positive experience. He is a busy man, but his command of the English language also made this an advantage. Kudos to Johnny Romero.

bonobo says:
Mar 04, 2015 12:40 AM

We are still in Panama and I contacted the well known agent by mail ...
Now, what he states is not at all what this website says about some points of the entry requirements and the "prices"
Some examples ....

First, his fee is 200$ non negotiable ... So NOT a max of 150$ as state above ...

I was interested in the 12h "free" stay to take food, water and diesel, etc ...

A one day stay will cost you over 600$

To have diesel one need a four day period to obtain the "paperwork" ????

""the 12 hr. does not exist and if you need fuel it takes 4 days to get the dispatch order""

He also states one need a Medical certification ... a new thing ...

""Here in Galapagos the situation is different, we have changes at least once a month if not daily. Does Noonsite mention anything about a pre medical inspection now in all Galapagos Ports?""

Good luck guys ....

Sue Richards
Sue Richards says:
Jan 13, 2015 02:30 PM

Posted as seen on the Pacific Puddle Jump - Thursday January 8th, 2015
We just arrived in the Galapagos on the 1st. Bananas and pineapples....we were told to put into the refrigerator. They saw tomatoes, potatoes, and onions. Never looked in the refrigerator....never looked in the freezer.
WAY more interested in making sure that there are ABSOLUTELY no barnacles on the bottom of your boat!

Sue Richards
Sue Richards says:
Mar 24, 2014 10:46 AM

A new Port Captain was appointed in Puerto Villamil mid-March 2014, and to begin with was interpreting the rules differently and not permitting boats without an Autographo to clear-in there. However, this has now been resolved and boats without an Autographo can once more clear-in at Isabela and be granted a one-island 20 day stay. See the formalities page for further information.

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