Argentina: Clearance and Prefectura Experiences

Floris and Ivar cruised Argentina in early 2019 before heading to Patagonia. While the paperwork and reporting system can be tedious, they report that overall they found officials to be helpful and courteous.

Published 5 years ago

A lighthouse on a rocky outcrop with snow topped mountains behind
Argentinian seascape

Clearing in at Buenos Aires

We cleared into Argentina in Buenos Aires (from Uruguay) and then went to Mar del Plata. Boats going from Uruguay straight to Mar del Plata also had to visit the Health Department there, which we didn’t (neither there nor in Buenos Aires).

We moored at the Yacht Club Argentino in central Buenos Aires. There, you must fill in a number of forms, one of which you will need to fill in five times. You will get used to this form, as it is the same in each town along the Argentinian coast. You may want to fill in an extra one, leaving those fields clear that change (e.g. previous port and next port), then copy it 40 times. You can then just fill in the blanks at each port before having it stamped.

The next stop is immigration, which is at the cruise boat terminal. Although it’s not far from the Retiro train station, it’s not recommended to walk there at dark. We took a bus. Immigration will stamp the passports and the forms from the yacht club.

Next up is the Prefectura. They have different offices, and to which one you should go depends on where you are moored. For those in the north of Buenos Aires (e.g. Barlovento), the Prefectura is somewhere in the north. For us at the downtown Yacht Club Argentino, the responsible Prefectura is across the street from the immigration office. However, they wouldn’t give us the necessary stamps, as they insisted that we see Customs first. We later heard (from Customs) that the Prefectura must stamp the forms first, so you need to be persistent and possibly ask them to call Customs to confer.

For yachts at the Puerto Madero marina in central Buenos Aires, the Prefectura offices are at Puerto Madero (between two basins). We ended up going there after being sent away by Customs, as it is within walking distance from Customs.

The last stop is Customs at the Buquebus terminal in central Buenos Aires. They should give you a customs document which allows you to stay the same amount of time as your visa (in most cases 90 days). We only got a month and had to go back to them when we left Buenos Aires for Mar del Plata. Fortunately, the head of Customs admitted they made a mistake and then gave us 90 days.

Upon leaving Buenos Aires, you only need to visit the Prefectura and fill in forms again (again, keep an extra one with some blank fields and make copies for your next visits). We went the night before leaving, again to the offices at Puerto Madero as it is within walking distance of the YCA. They didn’t ask where we were moored, and just gave us the stamps. No checks as to equipment.

Domestic Cruising

From then on, we had to give our position every day. In each town, we had to visit the prefectura upon arrival and upon leaving.

All in all it was not so bad. They even sent an e-mail back once, to warn us of heavy weather coming our way.

Clearing out at Mar del Plata

In Mar del Plata we only needed to see the Prefectura upon arrival and again upon leaving. They told us to call them before leaving. 

On the morning we wanted to leave, we called the prefectura by VHF and they sent over two officers to inspect our boat. They went over the requirements as set out in their list, checking our life-raft (service date), life jackets (certificates, dates), flares (dates), lights, bilge pumps, etc. They were satisfied after having checked the main safety items and did not check every single item on the list.

Our neighbors were then checked by the same two officers but hardly inspected anything, as they were called away. However, we heard from another boat that their inspecting officers checked each item on the list.

We have made a translation of the list to English and Dutch at:

With their blessing, we could leave for Patagonia.

Good luck and safe sailing to all Patagonian-bound yachts!

Floris van Hees & Ivar Smits
Sailors for Sustainability
Two sailors in search of sustainable solutions


The opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not reflect the view of or World Cruising Club.

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