Monday, June 30, 2014

British Virgin Islands in less than 24 hours

Innocent Noel with BVI background
On the initial plan, we were prepared not to stop in the former British colonies. We knew that sailing with dog onboard to their territories would be troublesome and costly, almost the same as carrying a gun! We left St. Thomas, United States Virgin Islands to the East Caribbean and the only thing we knew was that we didn’t want to sail long distances in one time, so we decided to stop over in Tortola after bypassing St. John islands in USVI.

45.81 USD was what we paid for clearing in and out in BVI in less than 24 hours and we didn’t even step our foot on their waters! The immigration process was going smoothly until the official asked us if we had guns or dogs onboard. We want it to do be done right, but we know that some people carry animals and they just keep quiet about it and never had any problems. After we declared we have a dog on board we had to wait for the veterinary to arrive for almost 1 hour. I was expecting the vet to be a generous person as we know that they all love animals. The first impression after we wait to see him for an hour was of a man in military uniform from the customs, not a civilian. We showed our documents where he could see that Noel went thru Europe, America and arrived in the Caribbean. He didn’t even care! He asked if we had the rabies blood test (it only can be done is two places in the world; one is in Kansas University in the States and another in Brit side at Cambridge University). We didn’t do that blood test since it was not necessary in Macau but it could be done by the company in Hong Kong, getting the blood samples and sending it to UK but the cost was around 1000 USD. At that time was one year before we start our trip, and the tests are only valid for one year so we didn’t do it.
What they call “Vet” said he could go to see the dog in our boat and waive that blood test by paying a 100 USD fee. This fee was not including the Customs, Immigration, annual tonnage, and the other services that we must pay for a BVI visit. I told him directly that we don’t have that money and we are poor sailors, asking if we could just leave within 24 hours. He told me that they could deport us since we arrived without permission! I think he then realized we really don’t have money and we have a baby, so would be no use to send us to jail. After that they filled their report for us to leave the island because we didn’t have the complete documents! Sometime later we met another family with dog onboard after we left BVI and asked them how their experience was. They have that rabies blood test which they did before they left America. However, they told us that the official said that they have to pay 60 USD otherwise their dog could be arrested! So what!!
The receipt
We skip our plan that we would like to visit Anguilla because it’s also one of the British territories and keep going more East until we arrived in the next destination, Sint Maarten.     

To visit BVI, please check for your Visa first. I listed the countries below that require the visa before arrival. The visa must be issued by a British Embassy to enter BVI. A UK visa is not valid in the BVI. I hold Thai passport but since I have a 10 years US visa, there have some kind of agreement between the Virgin Islands, the visa is not required in this case. However, most of the sailors in this area are American, Canadian and European, so they are always safe!

Visas are required by nationals of:
Afghanistan, Albania, Algeria, Angola, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Belarus, Benin, Bhutan, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Burkina, Burundi, Burma, Cambodia, Cameroon, Cape Verde Island, Central African Republic, Chad, China (except Hong Kong) , Colombia, Comoros, Congo, Cuba, Democratic Republic of Congo, Djibouti, Dominican Republic, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gabon, Georgia, Guinea-Bissau, Guyana, Haiti, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Ivory Coast, Jamaica, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Korea (North), Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Lebanon, Liberia, Libya, Macedonia, Madagascar, Mali, Mauritania, Moldova, Mongolia, Montenegro, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar, Nepal, Niger, Nigeria, Occupied Palestinian Territories, Oman, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, Qatar, Russian Republic, Rwanda, Sao Tome & Principle, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Serbia, Somalia, Sudan, Surinam, Syria, Taiwan, Tajikistan, Thailand, Togo, Turkish Republic of North Cyprus, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, Uzbekistan, Vietnam, Yemen

*Information referred to BVI Marine Guide 2014*

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