Clearance in Banjul

September 2012: Clearance in Banjul – Our experience:
David and Bella Sturm – SV Admetus

Published 11 years ago, updated 5 years ago


The best is to arrive during the week when all the offices are open. You anchor off the big oil tanks next to the harbour and go to the inside of the harbour for landing. You will meet a lot of people who welcome you and offer you help with clearance. It´s not necessary to get extra help. The clearance process lasts altogether about 5 hours. Just be prepared with small presents, cigarettes which you can buy cheap outside the harbor, or lipstick for the ladies. When somebody asks for something, I just gave a cigarette, never money.


First of all get Money. You can find banks in the city which accept Visa Cards, we walked there. When you come from the pontoon, just walk through the harbor and go out of the main gate and turn right. Follow this road into the town centre and ask for the police station. There is a bank just opposite it and there is also some kiosks to change money.


You find the immigration office directly when you get into the harbor area from the pontoon. There we got the Visa and paid 500Dalasi(12€) per person for the first month. We got an extension for 500Dalasi after one month in Kaur, but you get it also in Farafeni for example, at the police station. Depending on the size of the boat and how you look, they may ask for more.

My wife was not with me, so they said that they wanted to see her on the boat. This is mostly done to get “presents”, something we also heard from other sailors. Just be prepared and have maybe a pack of milk powder, shoes or something which looks like money. I had a really nice chat with the young immigration officer when we went with our dinghy to our anchored boat. We offered him a drink and asked him a little bit about Gambia and we asked if he had children and handed over some small presents for the kids (pencils, blocks,..). He didn´t search the boat and didn´t want anything else. Just don´t give too much. We heard wilder stories from others where they asked for a lot.


Afterwards, you get to the Customs (when you come from the pontoon turn after the first building to the left and follow that road for around 500m and it’s the last white building on the left). There I had to fill out some papers which are used also for the big ships. One officer wanted to “inspect” the boat. When she saw the dinghy she said she would not go with this tiny thing on the water. To get the inspection done I gave here a lipstick and she was happy.

Harbour Master

The last part is to visit the harbour master which is in the bigger blue building in the middle of the harbour. His office is on the top floor, through the second entrance in the blue building. Here you have to get permission to visit the river and you pay around 25€. The harbour master was very friendly and helpful. You can also buy tide tables here, but they were useless. After the second day, you know when you can go with the tide up the river.


The clearance is a little bit of work, but if everything works it´s not complicated because everything can be done in the harbour of Banjul. Don´t expect European clearance procedures, just have some presents with you.

Don’t be too put off when you get asked for money and when, even on big streets, people come up to you and greet you and want to have a conversation. After all, you head with the tide to Lamin Lodge and you will find there a peaceful nice spot where you can swim, go for a drink and start to enjoy Africa.

To clear out you don´t have to be in Banjul with the boat, you can do that by bus or taxi from Lamin Lodge. Clearing out is free of charge.

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