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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Just posted by Chris Doyle;
"Cruisers need to be aware that the government of Antigua has passed legislation that any person doing anything off a ship before the vessel is fully cleared is subject to a fine of up to 25,000 EC per person. Unfortunately there are a few officers in Antigua customs who delight in catching people for any kind of transgression whatever the intent and giving them a hefty fine which is levied by the head of customs who seems only too delighted to increase the govt revenue this way. In the past most cases that happened were in Jolly Harbour, and one of the most famous was someone who finding the customs closed ate in the adjoin restaurant was fined $5000 EC.
The latest case was in English Harbour/ Falmouth. A yacht arriving for the Caribbean 600 arrived one day with too much to do and not enough time to do it in. He had people leaving that evening and he had to do something at the airport. He had already completed his pre-entry on Easeaclear so saw no problem in having his crew finish the process in customs while he went to the airport. Normally this would be OK except the customs officer (a woman) said only the captain could clear (it turned out this was not true) and the crew somewhat panicked because there was not that much time and they had a plane to catch, made the mistake of saying he had gone to the airport and they had no way to contact him.
The end result was a several thousand dollar fine. I believe the skipper has sent a letter to Caribbean Compass so you should be able to read the details in the next issue.
I do ask myself why a country like Antigua, which depends on tourism would in the first place pass a law with such draconian fines. Then in the second you wonder whether the customs officers realize without yachts most of their jobs would be gone. Now I have no problem of hefty fines in the case of real malfeasance, but eating in a restaurant next to the custom station? Sending crew to clear customs and jumping the gun a bit to do an urgent errand? Well, be very much on guard. Do not step out of like one inch and if, like this guy you arrive with too much to do and not enough time to do it, make arrangements with an agent, it will be a lot cheaper than the fine."
Still want to take a chance bending the rules in the Caribbean?
 
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Does sound like they're aiming at drug-runners and hitting cruisers with the enforcement of this law. Customs officers are stuck between letting drug-runners off easy and getting fired for not enforcing the law the way it's written. The tourism board should probably be contacted- a lot - about this being a problem.
 

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Their country, their rules. You ever tried landing in the US as a non-US citizen?
True this, America is the most draconian country around.

I was working on my visa in Tennessee. I was ten minuets from the east border to West Virginia, where in that local town, was a fed approved doctor to get a medical.

According to US rule though, rather than go ten minutes to that local doc, who WAS approved, I had to use on in-state and had to drive eight hours to Memphis.

US immigration rules beat Antigua's any day of the week.
 

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US immigration rules beat Antigua's any day of the week.
If there is a country in the world with an immigration policy that makes less sense, and is run more erratically, than the US's, I haven't seen it (and, I've been to a lot of places). :D
 
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I think its really simple, abide by the rules whatever they may be of the country you are visisting, or simply gio elsewhere, its not like there are only 5 countries that are visitable around the world, there are close to 200 official ones...so take your pic

never understood why people just LIKE to tell it and do it their way

I mean its just a part of cruising...some places are so lax and comfy to go into it makes the hard ones be more appreciated

thats how I look at that...

peace
 
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Part of the Antigua problem is that they have tightened up the APPLICATION of the rules. It used to be pretty common for a yacht to arrive into Falmouth or Jolly Harbor in the evening after Customs/Immigration had closed and everybody aboard would go to the bar/restaurant and the captain would clear in next morning.

Now substantial fines have been levied for doing this.
 

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Makes me wonder if agents lobbied... Seems this will increase their biz... Sneaky... Kind of like how US govt works.. Special interests again?
 
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I do ask myself why a country like Antigua, which depends on tourism would in the first place pass a law with such draconian fines. Then in the second you wonder whether the customs officers realize without yachts most of their jobs would be gone.
I'm not familiar with attitudes in the Caribbean but in my experience most countries do not view yachties as tourists - more as opportunists who come to enjoy the fruits and contribute as little as possible. And I think you'll find very few places in the world that depend on yachts for their fiscal survival. We're viewed as a blight, not a source of revenue.

And I agree that this Antigua account isn't really that onerous or unfriendly. Visualise someone arriving at an airport and being confronted by a long customs/immigration queue - an attempt to "Let's go through that door to the other side and have a meal and come back later" will get you arrested, let alone a fine.

Do it by the rules and you're OK. A visit to Noonsite.com will pretty much tell you what level of efficacy to expect. The problem with cruisers is that because we're relaxed we expect everybody to be the same - they're not - they're protecting their borders.

When approaching New Zealand (or Australia), you don't just turn up. You will have notified them of your ETA 5 days before. If you didn't, you'll get a really chilly reception and may be fined or even asked to leave. You'll go directly to a foreign-arrivals dock and you will stay there, flying a Q flag until the customs/immigration officials arrive. If you step ashore, you have every right to expect to be arrested.

When I arrived at Christmas Island (Indian Ocean) at 19:00 I was met a mile off by a navy RIB and 6 heavily armed personnel, told not to step ashore until they had been aboard, the following morning they swabbed every surface of the boat for drug traces, searched every locker, checked my papers in fine detail, checked my visa in an on-line data base before signing me in and allowing me ashore.

In Seychelles, they do an offshore boarding of your arrival, they search your boat, spray a sanitiser into everything below, make your stay as uncomfortable and controlled as possible, hold your passport until you leave, allow you out of the main port for a max of three days on a renewable permit which stipulates where you're allowed to stop. Violation of the permit in any way gets you your passport back and a terse invitation to leave immediately.

So really, Antigua is quite relaxed, friendly and inviting, provided you sign in before going visiting.

At the other end of the scale - we arrived at Rarotonga at 18:00 on a Friday and were told that the "customs guy" had gone home for the weekend. We spent the weekend wandering around the island doing what we needed to do and cleared in on Monday morning.

As long as you know . . . .
 

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I received this comment from friends currently in the region, they spend a lot of time in Antigua each year:

Yes, flaunting the international rules on clearing in is a dodgy game but we know lots of people who probably unwittingly do! Years ago in the UK when you sailed into port after crossing the channel you were required to stay on board until customs/ immigration officials came to your boat. Sometimes there was quite a lengthy delaying waiting for them to come but boat confiscation was the potential penalty for going ashore before getting clearance.

In Antigua now they are using the Canadian designed software Easyclear that enables you to do all the preliminary stuff on board, or on dedicated computers in English Harbour and then you simply provide customs with a generated reference number and you are out in less than 5 minutes. Yes, we always clear ASAP on arrival and if we miss office opening time we stay on board until next morning. We have not run into any really officious officers and generally find them more friendly and welcoming than earlier years down here. I guess the rules are the rules and certainly going out for the evening ashore before clearance is a bad move as you can be spotted and reported. We have just arrived back in Carriacou....
 

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If there is a country in the world with an immigration policy that makes less sense, and is run more erratically, than the US's, I haven't seen it (and, I've been to a lot of places). :D
From my experience, Brazil must come close...!

but then again, I have never had to check into the U.S. as foreign national
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
I received this comment from friends currently in the region, they spend a lot of time in Antigua each year:

We cleared into English Harbor two days ago, and it took closer to half an hour, but everyone was nice and friendly. If you are clearing in there, bring at least us$50.00 (it was us$53.00 for two of us) or EC currency. I shudder to think what all those 150'+ mega yachts are paying, but it was well worth the $53.00 just to walk the dockyard and cruise the docks of Falmouth in the dink and look at row after row of those behemoths. Ticonderoga was there, as well as quite a few beautiful classics, both US and English.
Certainly not an island to be missed.
 

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Antigua is a great place to wander, the historical significance of English Harbour and the docks at Falmouth, along with the surprisingly modest and friendly Antigua yacht club floats are indeed a great place to visit and wander.

Our friends have been wintering there for 12 years now.. they are likely on a first name basis with the officials there since they clear in and out probably a half dozen times a season. They probably get 'fast tracked'...;)
 

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The goofiest thing about entering the US is the self check in. Last time I sailed back from the Bahamas, I had my decal and everthing and we tied up at Dinner Key Marina and called in. Customs told us to come to their office at the Port of Miami. So, we rented a car, loaded everybody up and drove their about four hours later, where they just asked us a couple of questions and then processed our paperwork. It's not like we would have brought our contraband with us.

I just left wondering what possible purpose it served. :confused:

On the other hand, I've met government dignitaries from other countries at US airports, and seen them put threw the ringer with Customs and Immigration, embarrassing us to no end, because we would not be put through any of that when visiting their country on business.
 
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