Puerto Rico - Facts

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  • COVID-19: Entry protocols for yachts have been affected by the pandemic. See the Biosecurity section for details.
  • Important pre-arrival information: All nationalities, whether entering and/or leaving the USA/Puerto Rico by private yacht MUST obtain a visa in advance. Such visitors CANNOT enter the USA/Puerto Rico for the first time under the Visa Waiver Programme on board their yacht. See Formalities for all the details.
  • Northernmost, within the eastern Caribbean, and several times larger than its southerly island neighbors, Puerto Rico’s sophistication as a US Commonwealth makes it stand out in terms of value.
  • Puerto Rico is a natural stepping-off point to/from North America and Europe, thus known as the Passage Islands.
  • The ports of San Juan, Ponce, and Fajardo offer full-service marinas and haul outs, diesel repair, boatswains, sailmakers, and other services. Puerto Real in Cabo Rojo, Boquerón, Salinas, La Parguera, and Bahia de Jobos offer marinas and inland adventure.
  • The Spanish Virgin Islands (which are part of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico), includes the islands of Vieques and Culebra, which are less than 15 nautical miles from the USVI. Other beautiful uninhabited islands dot Puerto Rico’s west, south, and east coasts.
  • Avoid eating any fish caught off Vieques as local opinion is that most fish have Ciguatera.
  • Mona Island off the West coast of Puerto Rico (the “Galapagos of the Caribbean), whilst a fascinating place to visit, has no safe anchorages. A permit is required to walk the trails there.
  • The currency is the US dollar. Credit cards are accepted virtually everywhere. Puerto Rico is bi-lingual in Spanish and English.
  • Hurricane Maria struck the island as a Cat 4 on 20 September 2017 shortly after Hurricane Irma passed by less than two weeks prior. The damage from Hurricane Maria was catastrophic. The entire island lost power, hydroelectric dams failed, and some areas were cut off. The central mountain range suffered the most damage; coastal towns and marinas sustained little destruction and quickly reinstated operations.

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Puerto Rico was last updated 2 months ago.

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  1. December 29, 2022 at 11:15 PM
    zorts says:

    We used CBP ROAM to clear into Culebra, Puerto Rico on Christmas Day, 2022 from the BVIs. Idril is a 45 foot, U.S. flagged monohull, with all crew (all two of us…) U.S. citizens. The process went very smoothly. I created and submitted an arrival request at the entrance to Ensenada Honda, and within a few minutes received a phone call from CBP. They asked me to confirm the number of persons aboard and my answers to the clearance questions, and said we were free to enter. I received a confirming email a few minutes later.

    As others have noted, boats over 30 feet in length will need a DTOPS decal number to complete the vessel profile. You can get it online at https://dtops.cbp.dhs.gov/main/home.htm. The decal has to be delivered to a physical address, but while you are waiting for it, you can use the receipt number from the payment site to complete the ROAM vessel profile. The decal is good for one year.

    FWIW, I use Android; presumably the process works equally well with iOS.

  2. April 30, 2022 at 12:41 PM
    fredladon says:

    Any updates about yacht arrivals to Puerto Rico?

    Any suggestions about how to make ROAM work?


  3. January 15, 2022 at 11:22 AM
    masterovnoonsitegmail-com says:

    Mayaguez is not a port of entry anymore There no CBP officers on site, so if you require a visit (i.e. non us crew) you will have to taxi/uber to BQN airport, which you can do from anywhere on the west coast

    1. January 17, 2022 at 4:05 PM
      profile photo
      Sue Richards says:

      Thanks so much for this update!

  4. July 22, 2020 at 8:57 PM
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    sue-richards says:

    Useful post on USVI Cruisers and Boaters by a Skipper who had just arrived in Puerto Del Rey to haul the boat out for hurricane season. Below is the process followed:
    1. Make reservations for haulout with boatyard.
    2. Make reservations for a wet slip with marina.
    3. Send email to [email protected] requesting a Rapid Covid Test to be done upon arrival. Include name of boat, names and photos of passports for all onboard, date and ETA of arrival. Expect an email response. If not, follow up with a phone call 787-860-1000 and then 7 for security.
    4. Upon arrival at entrance to the marina, call the fuel dock vhf 71 to get clearance to the fuel dock (take your first left and follow the breakwater to the bridge and take a right).
    5. Clear US Customs there using CBP’s app ROAM and give the clearance number to the dock master.
    6. If everything goes as planned, a nurse should meet you there and draw some blood. There is a $60.00 CASH charge per test.
    7. Go to your assigned slip and stay onboard until the results are emailed to you, between 1 and 2 hours.
    8. Enjoy Puerto Rico and haulout.

  5. March 29, 2020 at 4:06 PM
    yellowbird says:

    In the update as of March 27 it says that foreign vessels would be allowed to clear in to the United States. We are on a Canadian vessel with 2 Canadians aboard. We arrived yesterday from The DR and were told by CBP agents that we were not allowed to check in and would not get a cruising permit. We were told to stay aboard our boats at anchor. The information that Jose Mendez posted for the March 27th update has now changed.

  6. March 20, 2020 at 7:38 PM
    MarinaPescaderia says:

    According to the latest bulletin from the Department of Environmental and Natural Resources, transient vessels can get fuel and dockage at marinas. All crew members still need to obey island-wide ordinances regarding everyday life. If you need either fuel or dockage at Marina Pescaderia Puerto Real please contact us via email at [email protected] or by calling us at 787-717-3638.

  7. March 19, 2020 at 1:55 PM
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    kookaburra says:

    USVI ports & marinas remain open as stated below Puerto Rico has shutdown all marinas including fuel docks. The Governor of the USVI has not been as proactive and all marinas are still active, Customs & Immigration along with the US Coast Guard are operational and adhering to the CDC and WHO guidelines as far as entry. We recommend the CBP Roam app.
    Cruising Station Host St Thomas

  8. March 17, 2020 at 5:21 PM
    pdq36 says:

    Here is the official document on the “lock down” for COVID-19 in Puerto Rico as of 3/15/2020. It specifies ports are still open. However, marinas are supposed to be closed including Puerto del Rey, Ponce and Puerto Real Marina Pescaderia.


  9. March 6, 2020 at 12:50 AM
    klabautermann says:

    I just checked into Puerto Rico at Culebra, coming from the USVI’s, where I checked out at St. John. As I did not know the phone number to call which is Freecall +1 877 529 6840 I went to the US customs and Border Protection office at the airport. There I found the number as there was nobody at the office, called them, they were very helpful, took my details asked me to wait at the airport and called the officers of the station who then came back and we finalized the paperwork. I got a cruising permit for 90 days for free. Having your ESTA endorsed prior to arrival in the US works fine. The second time in the Caribbean, where the check in process did not cost me anything, first one was St. John in the USVI’s. Jan Harzem S/Y AKASHA

  10. March 1, 2020 at 3:19 PM
    mhaleyrn says:

    Dear Cruiser, I am traveling to Puerto Rico with pets. I have applied for the import permit and have all needed shot/health certificate documents. My question is, who do I notify once we arrive in San Juan? Does an official come to my boat or do I take the dogs somewhere? Any help is appreciated.

    1. March 6, 2020 at 11:16 PM
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      sue-richards says:

      Hi Michelle,
      When you enter Puerto Rico and call CBP, make it clear you have pets on board. They will either arrange for veterinary services to make contact or pass you the details.

  11. August 13, 2019 at 7:23 PM
    purydelucca says:

    Dear Sailor in the Caribbean and Western Atlantic. Since August 9, 2019 at 5:00pm, a Proline Center Console White, 22’ in length with 4 fisherman were lost at drift from the Islands of Icacos and Palomino in the North East coast of Puerto Rico, after having engine problems. They called Sea Tow for rescue, but when they arrive, the boat was not found.
    Since the Trade Winds blow from East to West, the most likely scenario is that they are drifting the North coast of Puerto Rico from East to West in the direction of Dom Rep or Turk and Caicos. As of today, August 13, they haven’t being found. No boat, drown people floating or boat cargo floating (oil or gasoline spills) has being located, so it is believe that the boat still afloat. If the wind blew from the South for a while and the returned as normal (East to West), they could be far from shore and not visible from land. Please be in the look out. The name of the boat is WEPA. See pictures bellow. (The small cay in front of the point designates as “987” was their last known location.

  12. May 2, 2019 at 12:25 AM
    marthasvineyard-net says:

    Puerto Rico is not an independent country but it is listed they way here on noonsite,
    Puerto Rico is part of the country of USA.

    1. May 13, 2019 at 9:12 PM
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      sue-richards says:

      Hi Richard – Puerto Rico is an unincorporated territory of the USA, as are Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, U.S. Virgin Islands, and American Samoa.

  13. April 21, 2019 at 2:50 AM
    Lynda Lim says:

    We were able to easily obtain a departure document (required by Dominican Republic) while anchored in Boqueron (which is not a clearance port). I called the Mayaguez airport customs office and asked for instructions. I downloaded a form 1300, printed it, filled it out, and emailed it. They emailed it back with a signature. It worked fine for D.R. customs. (May, 2019)

  14. March 12, 2019 at 5:23 AM
    Data Entry3 says:

    Is it allowed to use a 2-stroke outboard engine for the Dinghy? I know its no longer allowed to buy new ones in Europe and the US, but in Europe, it is still to USE exiting ones. How about Puerto Rico & US?

  15. December 26, 2018 at 7:52 AM
    Data Entry3 says:

    So was the $28.24 for the Customs and Borders Patrol sticker that is usually purchased in the U.S. before departing? or something else? Thanks

  16. June 21, 2018 at 7:51 AM
    Data Entry3 says:

    To clear in mayagüez, anchor in the middle of the bay just south of Boca morena. The commercial port is not where you can clear customs. There is a small fishing dock, but we couldn’t leave the dinghy there. We landed on the beach in front of supermarket selections. Good provisioning there. We anchored in 4 or 5 meters of water.

    Just 2 blocks from the supermarket, you find the customs and immigration. Aduana. Calle González Clemente corner with Calle Aduana. Be sure you have a visa or your ESTA has been activated in an airport or commercial port (ferry…) When it is activated that way, you can transit us islands for the next 90 days.

    We payed 28.24 dollars for a US flag boat, and its valid until the end of the year. Only cash and no change given. For a foreign vessel was a similar amount and I cannot remember how long it was valid for. You have to report by phone before walking in. If you don’t have a visa or an ESTA activated, you will have to pay a 500 dollars fine per person.

    1. January 15, 2022 at 11:26 AM
      masterovnoonsitegmail-com says:

      This is dated. We had to go to BQN airport.

  17. February 3, 2018 at 7:48 AM
    Data Entry3 says:

    Westbound from USVI.

    As a non-US boat, we’d needed to jump the hoops to get into the USVI. Well documented – do the ferry hop to get your non-US passport stamped in St Thomas. Having done that, we not only had an easy entry to the USVI, but this set us up for check-in to Puerto Rico as well.

    After check-out of USVI, we checked-in at Culebra Island airport. You are supposed to phone ahead, but we got no signal, and they were fine (but do phone if you get a signal). US stamps acquired in USVI – good for them also. Fees – $74 total. For the dog, they just checked the health certificate we’d got the day before on St Thomas. Friendly service, and welcoming.

    Culebra is pretty good (ref. hurricanes). Lots of room in the harbour; super holding (quite shallow); restaurants open near the canal (opposite side of the bay from the airport). It’s definitely worth entering Puerto Rico this way, and it also makes it an easy two-step hop from the USVI to the mainland.

  18. April 4, 2017 at 7:46 AM
    Data Entry3 says:

    So strange that La Parguera is not listed as a good anchorage in Puerto Rico! It was our favourite! It is super protected and a lot of fun.

    Especially Cayo Caracoles, a mangrove island where people anchor with their power boats and party in the water!

    It’s loud and crowded but lots of fun! We highly recommend it!

    Another great anchorage is outside Gilligan’s Island in Guanica. We don’t understand why it’s not packed with sailing boats.

  19. June 20, 2015 at 7:44 AM
    Data Entry3 says:

    General information about Mona Island as of June 1st 2015.
    – 5 Free NOAA Buoys available inside the lagoon
    – Entrance (narrow, 6 feet deep) to the lagoon marked by 2 aligned orange / brown signs on shore
    – National park guard and rangers are very nice and have lots of stories to tell about the island.
    – Excellent snorkeling on both sides of the reef
    – To walk the trails on the island you need a permit you can get in Puerto Rico (main island)
    – You might get water (bring your jerry cans) from the rangers if needed
    – It’s definitely a great stop to rest during your crossing between Rep Dominicana and Puerto Rico. Cliffs and bird watching are amazing.

  20. June 20, 2015 at 7:42 AM
    Data Entry3 says:

    Same thing. We entered from the USVI to Culebra Island (East of Puerto Rico), got our cruising permit for 37 U$S and ready to sail the US territories for 1 year.

  21. December 17, 2014 at 7:35 AM
    Data Entry3 says:

    Posted on behalf of Scott Fratcher:
    Air Conditioning/Refrigeration

    We tried a couple of different guys and settled on May Day Marine 787-637-0756. They came when they said they would, found the leak, cleaned up after themselves, and did a really good job on the soldering. We would use them again.

  22. May 14, 2014 at 7:34 AM
    Data Entry3 says:

    Posted on behalf of Ann Lange

    This is for Canadian cruisers wanting to enter the U.S. from the Caribbean. We sailed up from Brazil – Trinidad – north through the Caribbean to BVI’s. We had no problems what so ever getting into the USVI’s, just the normal paperwork. We asked if we could purchase a U.S. cruising permit in the USVI’s, the answer was no but we could obtain it in Puerto Rico.

    We sailed into San Juan without phoning or anything and once we found the Customs and Border Protection office on the south side of the main harbour they issued us a one-year cruising permit. It cost us $37.00 USD in April of 2014, this allows us to cruise anywhere in the U.S. including any protectorates. We found this process very simple and easy compared with all the rumours we had heard.