Clearing into Hawaii

Published 5 years ago

Clearing in at Barber’s Point

As always in the US, rules & regulations (or at least interpretations of them) seem to vary between regions and ports.  In terms of Fees,

what we saw in Hawaii was:

We entered Hawaii twice at Barber’s Point – once on a Friday during business hours and the other time on a Saturday at 10 PM – no overtime was charged for either entrance. We didn’t ask if overtime was due or enquire further.

For the weekend entrance, we had to contact the airport and were cleared by officers from the airport rather than from the seaport, which is only open weekdays 0700-1500.  If you’re willing to stay aboard until Monday, it is likely easier and more pleasant to just wait until Monday and clear in with the seaport, as the officers there seem to be significantly friendlier and more familiar with the rules and regulations of

entering by sea, and better at getting the boat cleared by agriculture.  When we cleared in on Saturday night through the airport, the agriculture clearance was never filed by the officers and we had to re-clear agriculture with the seaport on Monday.

The user decal fee was $27.50.

We were told by the woman at the seaport that if we applied for a cruising license, we wouldn’t need to get a user decal, so it was an either/or situation, rather than both. The user fee decal is mailed to a shore address and takes several weeks to arrive, so the customs office in Honolulu advised us to just keep our receipt from the decal fee and present that upon re-entry as proof of having the decal, which was good, as the decal still hasn’t arrived at our address in Florida, 8 weeks later!

At Ko’Olina Marina at Barber’s Point, there were no liveaboard fees at all, but that is the only harbor we visited, and we only stayed for a

maximum of 10 days at a time.  However, Ko’Olina is a private marina, so don’t know what fees/etc apply elsewhere, as most of the other

marinas in the state are run by the state.

The Quarantine/rubbish disposal was expensive. There were (I think) 3 different companies that would collect trash – NCNS, Barber’s Point

Aviation, and one other.  We used both NCNS and Barber’s point, based on their availability to come to collect trash, and were quoted $150+$75/bag by NCNS, $175+$90/bag by Barber’s point, but after some friendly negotiation Barber’s Point charged us $150+$90/bag and was willing to work with us to minimize the number of bags by re-bagging on the dock.

One thing of note is that on the continental US and USVI, we have found that British/European citizens are able to enter by private

yacht (often after some discussion/referral to a supervisor) with an ACTIVATED ESTA (must have flown into the US within 90 days of

re-entering by private yacht), but that in Hawaii we were informed that this only applied on the mainland, not in Hawaii and that a

B1/B2 was mandatory.

This was troublesome, as the US embassy in London has grown increasingly unwilling to issue B1/B2s, and so we entered Hawaii with one British crew with a C1/D and one with an activated ESTA, both of which they had been assured would be fine by the ESTA hotline and the US Embassy.  Needless to say, they were not, and seaport told us that neither was acceptable for a private yacht (which we think is the correct interpretation), while the airport accepted the C1/D but did not accept the ESTA.

At this point, given our conversations and experiences, I think that for non-Canadian/Bermudian/US citizens entering Honolulu by private yacht, a B1/B2 is the only way to go.

It does seem that the US immigration offices and especially the embassies have become increasingly unfriendly to non-US citizens trying to enter the US via private yacht in the last year or two. I suspect quite a bit of this falls more under the category of “grumbling” than actual US policy that should be written down.  The best advice we’ve been able to come up with is to call ahead to the US port of entry a few months in advance to verify what their policy is with regards to visas/ESTAs/etc and get the officers name who we’ve spoken to in case of issues upon arrival, as many officers at mainland ports don’t seem to know about the ESTA loophole.  We should have done this in Hawaii but didn’t, and had a tough time there as a result.

Eric Loss

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