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Go Back   SailNet Community > Out There > Cruising & Liveaboard Forum > There's This Place...
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There's This Place... Articles on Destinations for Cruising, by Cruisers, for Cruisers...


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Old 08-23-2013
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Passports, visas, etc. . .

I'm not sure if this is the best place to ask this question, but here goes. If you are out cruising about in your sailboat, what is the protocol for going ashore in all the various places you can end up in? What if you are sailing along a coast or through an area with a lot of different countries, and you want to stop a lot of different places? I assume you need your passport along, but then again, do you have to have visas? What if you just sail into a port of a place you don't have a visa for? How does all that work? Maybe this has been discussed and explained before, if so, maybe you can point me to the appropriate thread. Thanks!
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Old 08-24-2013
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Re: Passports, visas, etc. . .

Which countries in particular?
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Old 08-24-2013
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Re: Passports, visas, etc. . .

Each is very different from the next and can differ depending on where you're from. As a highly general rule, you fly a Q-flag until you've cleared customs. No one leaves the boat until you do. In a clear emergency, you should be able to stay aboard at anchorage until you sort it out, but you will be hassled, if you are not in a friendly country. Read here.

http://www.noonsite.com/
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Old 08-24-2013
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Re: Passports, visas, etc. . .

Countries are too big to just stumble upon unawares. Its not like sailing in the Atlantic and suddenly you sight land and find it on the chart and it says "USA" and you wern't expecting it. "Shall we just duck into this USA for a quick lookie? Lunch perhaps?"

Researching countires beforehand I do on Noonsite.com which lists the visa requirements and every port of entry in the world.
Most countries do not require visas from most large western countries so, indeed, you just sail on in!

What is more likely in your senario is to be sailing along some coast of a country you have cleared into and you see a pretty town and you quickly check the chart for an anchorage or marina etc and decide to have a closer look. Thats fun and exciting, adventurous and what cruising is all about.

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Old 08-24-2013
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Re: Passports, visas, etc. . .

Yes, Mark, that's the sort of thing I mean. I mean, for instance, you are cruising in the Carribean and you want to stop at all the islands along the way. Or maybe you are sailing in the mediterranean. You are planning to go from Spain (where you have a prolonged, premeditated stay) to Italy. A storm blows you a bit out of the way-- you are not damaged, but you find yourself near Algeria, and you think you might just like to go ashore. Or you are maybe just intentionally cruising around an area like the South Pacific and you intend to go to all these different islands just to site-see, but it doesn't really matter to you which ones you go to next-- you kind of want to follow the prevailing winds as much as possible, and so you make your decisions from day to day where to go accordingly. Or you are sailing up and down the coast of Africa, where there are many different countries, and you may want to stop and sight-see or buy supplies at any number of different places.
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Old 08-25-2013
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Re: Passports, visas, etc. . .

It all depends. Some basics are consistent.

Fly your Q flag (Q for quarantine) from the time you enter a nations waters. Check ahead (Noonsite as noted above is a good source) as some countries like Bermuda and Australia want advance notice of your arrival. Have all your documents together in a binder with copies as some officials want a copy. In addition to documentation or registration you'll want a crew list, a stores list, and the zarpe from your last country of departure.

Processing in will include a health official, a food official, an immigration official, and a customs official. Sometimes one individual will wear all those hats and sometimes you'll deal with different people. There may also be a harbormaster or local or national police officer.

The process may happen all at once either ashore or on your boat or require a return visit to collect your stamped passports. Sometimes you have to buy a stamp or pay other fees. See Noonsite.

In the EU there is no processing when passing between countries so in your Spain to Italy example there would be no processing. Your diversion to Algeria would require processing AND you would need a much better explanation than a whim (severe weather or mechanical problems usually suffices) for not properly clearing out of the EU.

Some countries do not require clearing out (the US and Bahamas come to mind) which may cause some difficulties in some countries if one of those countries is your next stop.

Watch visa requirements carefully. Note that visa waiver programs do not apply to private vessels or aircraft - they are limited to commercial carriers who underwrite the liability of repatriation. Accordingly EU nationals (for example) need a B1/B2 visa to enter the US by private boat even though they need no visa to arrive by commercial aircraft.

US citizens can get visas on entry in most places in the world. French Polynesia in the South Pacific is an exception. In an exercise of tit-for-tat (the US is really hard on FP citizens applying for visas into the US) you have to apply in person at an embassy or consulate in the US. Your best resources are Noonsite and the pacificpuddlejump group on Yahoo.

Please remember that passports and visas are one of the very few things that every single country in the world agrees upon. This is the result of centuries of custom and diplomacy. It is truly incredible. The officials take the process very seriously and you should to. Pack decent clothing somewhere it will stay clean and dry so you can dress properly as a sign of respect for the officials. Treat them politely. Follow their lead. Don't try to hide anything but don't volunteer information either. Remember you are a guest in their sovereign country; act accordingly.
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Old 08-25-2013
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Re: Passports, visas, etc. . .

Good, that's the kind of thing I wanted to know. Having never done any of this before, it just helps to get an idea in mind of how it would function.
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