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Cayman Islands - Clearance

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ARRIVAL 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 reported to be friendly and may not even come on board your boat.   However, ensure that you follow their procedures as visiting boats have been fined for minor infringements.

CLEARING OUT

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:  May 2023

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  1. April 3, 2023 at 1:29 AM
    profile photo
    Keith Pomeroy says:

    Kookaburra sailed to Cayman Brac (CB) from Jamaica and enjoyed 4 days of settled weather, the Caymans supply mooring balls free of charge & you are required to use them. There are plenty around and not that many cruisers come through. The problem with Cayman Brac is there are no harbors to hide so you are going to need NE-SE winds to stay any length of time, we were chased out after 4 days by a northerly. You will check in at the Scotts dock NW side of Brac, call them on ch 16 as you come into the island, they will tell you to grab a mooring & dinghy to the concrete pier, they are not interested in getting on your boat. You will check out here as well. We then walked up to the road and had a wood fired pizza & a beer at Barracudas bar. If you want to go to Little Cayman you will have to come back to Brac to check out before going to Grand Cayman. There is a good lagoon on the SW corner of Little Cayman about 10 miles west of the Scotts Dock, CB but we did not go. We rented a car, $30 a day at the airport which is a 15 min walk from the Scotts dock, and toured Cayman Brac for a day. There are three roads that run the length of the island. Start on the North road all the way to the east end, park it at the parking lot and walk to the North end walking up to the cliffs. Come back down to Bluff Rd and cross over to the Middle road and take that all the way to the North end and you will be at the lighthouse and at the top of the 150 ft tall cliffs with a good hiking trail. Come back down the middle road to Bluff Rd again & drop onto the South road again take it all the way to the north until it ends there’s a parking area & Great cave, then head south on that road with other stops to bat cave and Jessica’s cave. We ate lunch at Coral isles restaurant (South road), the two dive shops on Cayman Brac are on the southwest corner of the island and there are some bird watching platforms there opposite them. Very nice quiet island with good grocery stores and bakeries. There is a nice little grocery store just past Barracudas.
    When entering the Caymans they will offer two weeks or a month, both options are free but evidently there is more paperwork for a month. We took the two weeks then had a friend visit so we had to ask for an extension from immigration that cost us $50/person and 3 hours at the C& I office. (take the month). Checking out of Cayman Brac they request you call on ch 16 with 24 hrs notice. EZ peasy.

    Sailed to Georgetown, Grand Cayman (90 miles) harbor patrol was looking for us & were very pleasant. They directed us to a concrete dock for check-in. Again no one was interested in coming on board but we did do ALL the paperwork again for customs, the immigration clock was still ticking though. It is recommended on some pages to fill out Sail Clear before arriving, we did so in Jamaica and never was it mentioned or acknowledged. When finished the harbor patrol escorted us to a mooring, then had me jump on their boat for a tour of the harbor showing us the dinghy dock, grocery store & basic info, extremely nice!
    We dove with “Living the Dream” dive shop, right at the dinghy dock, rated #1 on island and I can see why. Lots of diving in the Caymans is shore diving but we opted for a boat dive as we were snorkeling lots of the shore dives.Food prices are high in the Caymans and their KY dollar is based on the euro so 20% exchange rate is added to everything. They are used to dealing with Americans so their registers convert it automatically. Remember your next destination will be much cheaper but not as good a selection. There is a Cost-U-Less for bulk US brand buying if needed. The Kirk Grocery, across from the dinghy dock is pricey but staples, fruits & veggies are fairly priced with excellent bakery products, meats are expensive! DYI, True Value & Ace hardware stores are walking distance up the road from the grocery. Downtown Georgetown is a cruise ship port (enough said) & you will have lots of company in the harbor. 7 mile beach is to the north of Georgetown and a nice walk. Local busses (vans) are $2 KY and convenient. We rented a car ($140/day) at the airport and toured the Eastern end of the island ending with the bioluminescence tour at Rum point that evening. You can boat around to Stingray city (grab a mooring) then anchor off Starfish point for Nly or Rum point for a Sly. Georgetown always has a roll, usually fine but we had three days that everyone was playing with their bridle angles.
    Jaime & Keith
    sv Kookaburra

  2. October 30, 2020 at 7:42 PM
    scouse41 says:

    Re Civil Partnership law Cayman Islands, I have a copy of the relevant law, if you would like I can email as .pdf file.

  3. October 30, 2020 at 5:21 PM
    scouse41 says:

    Cayman Islands: Same Sex Civil Union is now approved in the Cayman Islands, I think the date was September 2020.

  4. June 20, 2019 at 7:40 PM
    pilarbell says:

    We recently sailed from Florida to Grand Cayman, where our boat stayed for the winter, while we flew back and forth for work. Recommend sailing east to west to catch prevailing currents and winds, (we had to do it the other way for family visit reasons and it was tough). We highly recommend Grand Cayman – especially Cayman Island Yacht Club for docking. It is about the safest place you can visit. You can anchor out however, I would agree it is weather dependent, and much of the water is environmentally protected. Best place to anchor is by Starfish Point. You can snorkel every day and see something new. I did write a blog with video – our Grand Cayman Cruising Guide. You can find it here. Hope it helps you. http://bluedotvoyages.com/cayman

  5. February 6, 2018 at 2:56 PM
    Data Entry says:

    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.

  6. March 27, 2017 at 6:01 PM
    Data Entry says:

    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.

  7. January 29, 2017 at 3:46 AM
    Data Entry says:

    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.

  8. November 19, 2016 at 12:39 PM
    Data Entry says:

    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.

  9. July 31, 2014 at 12:58 PM
    Data Entry says:

    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.

  10. July 31, 2014 at 12:55 PM
    Data Entry says:

    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.

  11. May 22, 2014 at 2:44 PM
    Data Entry says:

    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

  12. May 8, 2014 at 12:26 PM
    Data Entry says:

    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.