Clearance Procedures in Kuching

Published 14 years ago, updated 5 years ago

We anchored in the Santubong River.

Clearing in and out of Sarawak is carried out in Pending, just outside Kuching. Getting there can be a problem. We were told to “stick out your thumb” and wait for a lift. This we did and were taken into the centre of Kuching by three very pleasant people from the Civil Defence. After being dropped off, we jumped into a taxi to complete formalities.

Most of the following information was kindly provided by Ian and Mona, S/Y Kumang, with the additions of our experiences. All the lat/longs have been taken from Google Earth by Ian.

Revised Check-In / Out procedures for Yachts visiting Kuching, Sarawak.

We took several completed crew lists with us, on Ian’s advice.

First I need to point out that requirements are prone to change (especially Customs), usually based on the officer on duty. You will hear a different version from every boat that has passed this way. The following is a revised procedure based on the relocation of the Harbour Masters Office in November 2008. It is the same procedure whether you are anchored at Santubong or are in Kuching Marina. If you have a hire car, you can drive to Pending Port otherwise a Taxi is the easiest option.

Our Taxi driver had never been to any of the offices listed below. He knew where the Express Boat Wharf was, and we “winged it” from there.

Clearance in and out follows the same sequence.

1). Harbour Master, to be found on the Express Boat Wharf. (1° 33′ 17.85″ N, 110° 23’52.85″ E)

2). Immigration, to be found inside the Pending Port perimeter fence. (1° 33′ 17.91″N, 110° 23′ 49.86″ E)

3). Customs, to be found by the exit from Pending Port. (1° 33′ 17.15″ N, 110° 23’37.35″ E)

Harbour Master

The new Harbour Masters Office is located in a new building on the Express Boat Wharf (Express Boat to Sarikei / Sibu) outside the perimeter fence of Pending Port, which is the old Kuching Port. This can be found to the east of Kuching, on the outskirts, on Sungai Sarawak.

The office is upstairs, and Open Office Hours, Monday to Friday, half day (mornings) weekends and Bank Holidays. The stairs are to the left as you enter the building.

Tell the officer that want to (obtain port clearance), check in a yacht, (Kapal layer), which is anchored at Santubong (or moored in Kuching Marina). You may have to explain that you are not a large commercial vessel.

They should give you Form Marina 28 MSS 1 (Merchant Shipping Ordinance – 1960, Arrival Form) which is a self-carboning form. If they give you a photocopy, ask for the carbon version, less writing!

We got the self-carboning form, and the Officer was perfectly aware of what a yacht was. A very inquisitive young lady!

Most of the form is irrelevant, so fill out what you think applies, but check with the officer that all that is required is submitted, or struck out. Take your copy for submission to Customs.

Check out is the same but uses Form Marina 28 MSS 2 (Departure Form).

The officer of the day offered to provide a Departure Form for completion at the same time. We accepted this offer gladly, as it negated a return visit for clearance outwards.

Each form costs 1 RM, but they often don’t bother to charge you. (We were charged 1 RM for each form and a receipt was given.)


The Immigration Office for Visitors from Sea is located inside Pending Port, opposite from the Harbour Masters Office, and can be clearly seen through the fence. Make your way around the perimeter fence to the Main Port Entrance (about 1 km). Enter the Port through the checkpoint, telling the guard that you are visiting Immigration if he stops you (We were waved through).

Drive straight to the first roundabout and turn left (passing the garage for all the forklift trucks etc.), drive straight on until you reach the perimeter fence, then turn right, following the fence until you see the building you spotted from the Harbour Master’s Office. Immigration is on the right-hand side of this building and is clearly marked.

Once again explain that you are from a yacht anchored in Santubong (or moored in Kuching Marina). You should have a ready completed crew list with you, saves having to fill in their form.

They required two crew lists from us.

You will have to fill in the following forms:-

Declaration By Master of Vessel (Borang DN) – this declares you have no stowaways onboard.

Declaration List – This is the list of forms you are submitting. Only No. 3,(passenger list) and No. 4 (stowaway) usually apply. (We did not have to submit this form.)

IMO General Declaration.

IMO Crew list (A pre-prepared crew list may be acceptable).

Our crew lists, in duplicate, were welcome. Less work for the officer of the day!

Arrival Card (as per arriving by air).

We filled in the arrival and departure and customs declaration all at the same time.

Passports have to be submitted for stamping (chopped).

Immigration takes a bit of time but they are friendly and are usually interested in where you are from etc.

To check out from Immigration, you will need:-

Immigration Departure Card (completed on arrival)

Crew list



The Customs Office is located on the concrete platform at the Security Check Point as you enter the Port. Port Security may stop you and check the vehicle.

Park outside on the left, just past Security and climb onto the end of the platform. Customs is the first door into a very small office.

This is where procedures may vary!

The Customs Officer should ask for:-

Completed Harbour Master Arrival Form (Form Marine 28 MSS 1)

Clearance form from last port

Crew list

They will take all the paperwork and give no receipts or copies. (They have no photocopier).

For check out, you will need:-

Completed Harbour Master Departure Form (Form Marine 28 MSS 2)

Crew list

Passports cleared out by Immigration.

They will give you clearance out of Kuching for your next destination. If your next destination is within Sarawak they may not issue a clearance form (depends upon the Officer on duty).

The Customs Office is on the Central Pier. And is indeed small. Our Officer didn’t want our Clearance from last port, just Form Marine 28 MSS 1, the sight of passports and a crew list. No clearance was offered.

In all, the whole clearance procedure took about 90 minutes to 2 hours. Our Taxi driver was brilliant, and actually thanked us for “A Special Experience”! On the way back to the boat he stopped at a very good supermarket so we could do some shopping. The fare was RM 88 (about £17) but we were with him for about 5 hours total.

A couple of other observations, the river current can be very strong, up to 3 knots. All kinds of debris are carried down, especially during Springs. We had to remove rubbish from the anchor chain on several occasions. Also, the river is a main arterial route for barges and lighters carrying sand, gravel and tree trunks. The captains all know the river well and seemed courteous. We were told that the starboard hand mark, mentioned above, was relocated due to repeated “mishaps” with the barges……..

Best Regards,

Jerry & Caz

Yacht Mandarina

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