Entering the Country
Customs and Immigrations
Clearing into Cuba…
This has been one of the easiest, but also the most thorough countries that we have checked into so far. Everything was very organized and efficient, the officials were professional and no “tips” were asked for…. I did have a bowl of Hershey Kisses on the table that they enjoyed though. 😉
The initial procedure for arriving into Cuba from a from a foreign port is:
1.) Fly a Yellow quarantine flag from your starboard spreader when entering Cuban waters.
2.) Make sure your VHF is set on the International frequencies and not US.
3.) When you are 12 miles from the harbor entrance make your initial call on VHF channel 16 to Guarda Frontera, which is the Custom and Border Patrol,
Also, Even if you speak fluent Spanish make the call in English.
Be prepared to answer the following questions:
a.) Name of Vessel, including being able to spell it phonetically properly. A-Alpha, B-Bravo, etc
b.) The Flag of the vessel
c.) Number of persons on board and their Nationality
d.) Last Port of Call
Note: Don’t expect any response on your initial call 12 miles out, because we noticed that most the Customs and Immigration official carried a hand held radio. They will hear you, but you will be too far away to hear them. We just kept trying every few miles until we reach them.
When you do reach them:
4.) Be ready to listen and copy instructions of where to go and what to do. If you are not sure what they said ask them to repeat it. Make sure to repeat back the instructions they gave you to make sure you understood them correctly.
We were asked to anchor just outside of the marina. As soon as we anchored a doctor and guarda came aboard. The first thing the doctor did was take our temperature and asked us about our general health and immunizations.
The guarda looked over our boat papers, passports the departure clearance from the Turks and Caicos.
They asked us questions in English and filled all of the paperwork out for us and had us sign where required. Once they decided we were healthy we docked the boat at the marina and they both got off. The guarda took our passports for review and asked us to stay on the boat for 30 minutes and then come to his office to retrieve them.
After 30 minutes we walked down the dock to his office. He asked us a few more questions and went over a few rules about high definition cameras and drones.
The Marina manager came into the office and the guarda gave him our passports so he could issue our 30 day visas. We were asked to wait back on the boat, because the next step is that our boat would be inspected.
2 guarda officials came onto the boat and we showed them around. They were very polite and respectful.
All in all, it took about one hour to check into Cuba and it was very organized, professional, and respectful. This was the 14th (or 15th, I am starting to loose track) country we have check into, Cuba has been our best experience. ….. Well, maybe the French Islands are a little quicker because you self check in at a computer, but until you learn that French keypad it’s not easier.