Positive Customs/Quarantine/Imigration Clearance in Cairns Australia

Published 15 years ago, updated 4 years ago

I just thought I would post a note here to say that a few weeks ago now we had what I would describe as a very, very hospitable Customs, Quarantine and Immigration clearance in Cairns Australia.

We were warned repeatedly by other Australian Yachties we met on our travels of how terrible our entry formalities were going to be when we landed back in Australia.

We are Australian Registered and were returning to Australia after a five and a half year absence. The last leg of the return journey was from Koror, Palau over the top and around the East of PNG then across the Coral Sea to Australia (this took more than 3 weeks of sailing).

My forward notification (they like you to give a fair bit, at least 96hrs for a trip this long) to the Australian Authorities was made on 21st Nov 2007 by email. I advised them of the arrival date of 15th Dec 2007 and an intended port of entry as Townsville, with Cairns and Mackay as alternatives. (I notified the authorities through the Australian Customs web site, following the links to the information requirements and their email address). They sent me automated confirmation of my arrival advice which I printed out and kept with a hard copy of the advice email I had sent.

We arrived in Cairns on the morning of Dec 12th (Q flag hoisted high), after calling Cairns Port Control, the Marlin Marina and notifying Customs of our arrival (all on VHF16) from the outer channel marks we then made our way to the Marlin Marina for clearance.

At the marina, we only waited aboard ship for a short while before the Australian Authorities arrived at our marina berth. The ship’s customs and quarantine inspection was thorough, but the inspectors were amiable and polite during the inspection (they even removed their shoes before coming onboarding). The usual extensive questioning and paperwork operation were conducted in a friendly and efficient way (we were relieved of two cans of mace spray and cautioned for having a clamshell in our collection). They complimented us about the ships state of hygiene before stamping our passports and heading off on their way Very Happy.

I was quite surprised by how much the quarantine officer allowed us to keep in the way of foodstuffs we surrendered our last few fresh vegetables and some frozen meat. The quarantine officer was also most intent not to allow his services to extend beyond 1 hour and thereby entail additional charges. (the 1 hour for quarantine clearance cost about $160AUD). In the end, I had to put a big bag of food (which I thought I would have to surrender) back into the cupboard:D.

I felt compelled to write a positive report about our return formalities in Cairns because there seems to be a hell of a lot of negative scuttlebutt in circulation about the severity with which the Australian Customs and Immigration Authorities conduct their business with small craft.

Please note, I am in no way connected with the Australian Customs or Quarantine services. I just like to share reports of good experiences with other voyages.

Ned Harding

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