Travel consultant, Carissa Gulyas reviews Covid rules and regulations— country by country— for Yachts International. These rules are in place as of November 23, 2020 but as the situation is a fluid one, it is always advisable to check for any updates prior to travel.
With no clear end of Covid in sight this winter, yacht owners and charterers may need to pivot their usual plans for heading somewhere warmer. To help you navigate where you can go and what you will need to do when arriving by yacht, here is an up-to-date list of the most sought out destinations worldwide with their new protocols, if any. This will hopefully eliminate any surprises, delays or disappointment upon arrival.
If your captain and crew will be delivering your yacht and you are flying either commercially or privately, you will have to adhere to that destination’s protocols for visitors. When it comes to flying, you can find updated information on any tests that need to be taken prior to arrival, as well as travel documents that need to be filled out HERE, on the CDC’s website. Other great resources would be on each destination’s tourism website, the marine association for each island or on each tourism page on Facebook.
If you or your crew are traveling from one destination to another by yacht, below is what you can expect. New rules are changing weekly and sometimes daily, so always be sure to double check if there are any updates before you get there, either with the marina you reserved with or on one of the resources above.
Antigua and Barbuda – open
· Clearance into Antigua can only take place at English Harbour or the Nevis Street Pier in St. John’s.
· Clearing out of Antigua – Clearing out can be done at Nevis Street Pier in St. Johns or at Nelson’s Dockyard. Please call the Coastguard 24-hours before leaving to seek permission to move the boat to St. John’s prior to clearing out. If clearing out from within the National Park, please call Marina Manager Marius Smith between 9 – 12 pm daily. Tel no: 464-6941.
· Barbuda – Visiting yachts can now go to Barbuda, but please note boats cannot clear into Barbuda.
· Full list of marinas – http://abma.ag/yachting/marinas/
· All arriving passengers must complete a Health Declaration Form and will be screened by the Port Health Authorities in both Antigua and Barbuda.
· All crew and passengers are to have a negative PCR test 7 days prior to arrival.
· There must be daily monitoring and logging of temperatures and any probable COVID-19 signs or symptoms during the journey from the port of origin.
· Once possible, yachts will be expected to submit their Eseaclear declarations in advance of arrival and to upload the health declarations for all people on board, so that the Health Authorities may assess risk on board prior to arrival of the vessel.
· The captain/skipper, observing the nationally established safety protocols, reports to Port Health, and in the absence of an Eseaclear declaration, collects the health questionnaire to be filled by each person on board, for submission to Port Health.
· If all on board have valid PCR tests, there were no stops at other ports since the port of origin, and the logged data indicates no covid-19 signs or symptoms of any member during the journey, then the time at sea shall be deemed valid as quarantine time. If less than fourteen days, then the remaining days of quarantine must be done on arrival.
· Once requirements have been met, health checks done and a boat deemed of no risk, vessels will be instructed to proceed to customs/Immigration for usual clearance, then continue to their berths or anchorages as normal.
· Vessels (skippers of) which fail to comply or are found to have lied or misled the authorities will be prosecuted.
The islands in the Regional Travel Bubble include Antigua & Barbuda, Grenada, Dominica, St. Lucia, St. Kitt’s & Nevis, St. Vincent & The Grenadines, Monserrat, Anguilla, BVI’s and Barbados.
· Persons travelling from countries within the travel bubble will be exempted from quarantine, however, all other arriving passengers will be monitored for COVID-19 for periods of up to 14 days in accordance with the directions of the Quarantine Authority and the Quarantine (COVID-19) Guidelines. Visitors may be required to undergo testing for COVID-19 on arrival or at the hotel or place of lodging as determined by the Health Authorities.
· Once vessels already cleared in Antigua and Barbuda leave for another port that is at that time outside of the bubble, fresh testing and clearance will be required.
· In Transit – Transiting passengers/Crew members who require an overnight stay will be required to proceed to a hotel or government designated facility to await departure.
All Marine Pleasure Craft and Ferry Services entering the waters of Antigua and Barbuda should contact the Antigua Port Authority, using VHF Channel 16, at least six (6) hours prior to arrival. Instructions will be given to guide the crafts to either the Nevis Street Pier or English Harbour Ports or to a holding area. For the most current updates visit https://visitantiguabarbuda.com/travel-advisory/ and scroll down until you see ‘yachting’.
Aruba – open
· You must have a reservation at one of the two authorized marina’s and that you are not guaranteed entrance unless you receive a confirmation of your reservation.
· Vessels shall only enter port after approval from the Aruba Ports Authority Control Tower to confirm that you have a reservation with an authorized marina.
· If you are coming from Curacao or Bonaire you are exempt from the PCR test, but you do have to do a Medical Screening on the island.
· Vessels shall arrive at the Port of Barcadera. Upon arrival, all occupants shall undergo a medical symptom screening and a PCR test before customs/immigration clearance. This will be arranged logistically through the APA Control Tower.
· Vessel and all occupants shall undergo quarantine upon arrival in Aruba. (On anchor at a spot assigned by the authorized marina), until test results are known and negative.
Authorized marinas – Varadero Marina and Renaissance Marina.
Bahamas – open
· Currently, a negative PCR test is required for each traveler in your vessel, no more than 7 days prior to arrival. The name and address of the lab, where the test was performed, must be clearly displayed on the test result. If any person presenting a test older than seven (7) days will not be allowed entry into The Bahamas.
· Children age ten (10) and under, as well as pilots who remain overnight in The Bahamas, are exempt from obtaining the RT-PCR test.
· Each traveler will need to apply for a Bahamas Health Travel Visa AFTER they receive their negative Covid results. You can apply at travel.gov.bs and select international. The cost will be either $40 or $60 for the visa, depending on the length of your stay and will include travel health insurance, which is now mandatory. Once completed you will be given a confirmation QR code.
· Upon your arrival, at the Port of Entry Testing Area, you will present the confirmation QR Code to the testing personnel, where a Rapid Antigen Test will then be administered. After completing the Rapid Antigen Test, you will proceed to Bahamian Immigration & Customs.
· On exiting Customs & Immigration, you will be required to go directly to your marina or other place of residence – rental, hotel or other accommodations, where you will receive a notification of your Rapid Antigen Test result.
· Those traveling to the Bahamas on a yacht must stop at the port of entry of their intended destination. All ports of entry in the Out Islands, also called the Family Islands, are closed with the exception of public docks. Each traveler then needs to provide copies of their Travel Health Visa and their negative RT PCR test results to officials at the port of entry before docking and stepping on land.
· DAY 5 – (96 hours after arrival) each traveler will need to take a rapid Antigen test. All travelers staying in The Bahamas for more than four night and five days are required to take a rapid COVID-19 antigen test five days after their arrival date. Visitors are required to quarantine on their boats or report accommodations until they receive their test results which are typically texted or emailed to them within 60 minutes. Yacht owners and crew who are not coming on land anytime during their trip to The Bahamas are exempt from this rapid antigen test.
· Approved ABM Marina Testing Sites / Port of Entry
– Bay Street Marina and Nassau Yacht Haven
– Old Bahama Bay (West End), Grand Bahama Yacht Club and Port Lucaya Marina (Freeport)
– Abaco Beach Resort & Boat Harbour and Baker’s Bay Resort & Marina plus Sandy Point Public Dock
– Cape Eleuthera Resort & Marina, Romora Bay Resort & Marina and Valentines Resort & Marina
– Staniel Cay Yacht Club
· Daily Online Health Survey: travelers are required to answer a daily online health questionnaire during the duration of their visit. This daily health survey is designed for symptom tracking purposes. Any visitor who exhibits COVID symptoms upon their arrival or during their stay will be required to take a rapid antigen test. A negative result will allow them to resume their vacation, while a positive result will need to be followed up with a COVID-19 RT-PCR swab test.
· Changes are occurring weekly. You can stay updated at www.bahamas.com/tourism-reopening, as well as find the curfew times on each island here – https://opm.gov.bs/covid19/.
All forms can be found here – https://www.bahamasmarinas.com/enteringexiting-policies/
Barbados – open
· A test must be taken 72 hours prior to arrival in Barbados, which is determined by whether you are coming from a high or low risk country. If this is not feasible due to being at sea, just follow the next bullet point.
· Upon your arrival, register yourself and your boat at the Barbados port and clear immigration. After they process your information you will need to take a PCR test at the port and then quarantine until the results come back.
· The Immigration/Customs form is needed to be completed 24 hours prior of arrival, along with any supporting documentation. The link for this form is https://travelform.gov.bb/home.
· On Day 3, your last PCR test is taken in order to determine if you can move about the island or not.
· If you do not test you must quarantine on your yacht for 14 days.
· If you are coming from one of the islands in the Regional Travel Bubble you will have to test again upon arrival.
Belize – not open
· The new president elected has said he is planning to reopen Belize for yachts very quickly, but a known date is not yet determined.
Bermuda – open
· Currently, a negative PCR test is needed no more than 7 days prior to arrival for all visitors, performed by an accredited lab, as well as show the contact information of the lab. Anyone without a negative test result cannot obtain the travel authorization.
· Apply for a Travel Authorization Form up to 7 days prior from departure of your last port. One for each traveler. Pay $75 for 10 years old and up. Pay $30 for 9 years old and under. Only Visa and MC accepted.
· Captains must continue to follow the normal procedures to apply for transit, cruise or charter permits.
· Health insurance is now mandatory.
· Upon arrival – clear customs in Bermuda and undergo an assessment by Port Health at Yacht Reporting Center in St. George’s.
· After clearance, yachts must proceed to anchor for quarantine, flying the yellow quarantine flag.
· During quarantine, all commerce must be contactless and delivered to vessel.
· Mariners with a pre departure test must test again upon arrival and quarantine on the vessel until negative result is received. Turnaround time is generally less than 24 hours but will vary.
· Mariners will need to retest on day 4, 8 and 14, if still in Bermuda.
· **Yachts with prior permission from Customs may be permitted to proceed to a marina to clear Customs and be assessed by Port Health.
For up to date travel information for those flying or yachting to the island go to https://www.gov.bm/coronavirus-travellers and scroll down. To apply for the mariner’s travel authorization go to https://www.gov.bm/mariners-travel-authorisation.
British Virgin Islands – open
· Testing and quarantine protocols apply to all travelers.
· All travelers will be required to download the approved app and must be issued a Travel Certificate. Having the Travel Certificate on your phone is fine, but make sure you’re able to show it or you can have a printed copy. The application can be found at BVIGateway.BVIAA.com.
The following Covid Tests will be required:
· A certified PCR negative test within 5 days prior to arrival for all travelers.
· A test on arrival (day 0), will be required, as well as on Day 4.
· Four days of quarantine will be undertaken on the vessels at mooring sites to be approved by the Minister for Health and Social Development in consultation with the Minister for Natural Resources, Labour and Immigration.
· Vessels will be able to move within territorial waters during the quarantine period but may only moor at approved sites as approved from the above departments.
· After the four day period, you will be able to move freely around the islands.
-The cost of 2 tests + monitoring breacelet/app and seaport fees = $175 per person
-Children under the age of 5 are exempt from testing.
-If you are planning to travel to the USVI or Puerto Rico, you will need to take a test to depart the BVI’s. The cost is $75 per person.
-The average turnaround time for results is 18 – 24 hours.
-Covid 19 BVI Hotline – 284-852-7650
-Reopening Steering Committee – WhatsApp – 284-496-6129
-Email – firstname.lastname@example.org
Florida – open
· Currently, the marinas in Florida are open as usual without any restrictions, testing or quarantining necessary. Be sure to make your reservations ahead of time.
· All travelers entering by yacht must first contact SVG arrivals, to request permission for entry, via email at email@example.com. Once you email them they will instruct you on what test and form you may or may not need to take and fill out.
· POE’s currently accessible are Blue Lagoon, Union Island and Port Kingstown.
· 24 hours before arrival, send negative PCR test results, estimated time of arrival and last port clearance to firstname.lastname@example.org.
United States of America, including the United States Virgin Islands (USVI), China, United Kingdom, Germany, British Virgin Islands, Guyana, Suriname, Belize, St. Lucia, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, Dominican Republic, Mexico, Brazil, India, Panama, Argentina, Peru, Haiti, Colombia, South Africa, Nigeria, Indonesia, Philippines, Italy, Bahamas, Canada, Turks and Ciaos Islands, France (including overseas regions), Spain and Russia.
a) Will be retested for COVID-19 (RT-PCR) in SVG.
· i) Passengers who arrive with a negative COVID-19 (RT-PCR) taken in the Caribbean Region 72 hours will not retested upon arrival, however they will be retested on day five (5) of quarantine time.
· ii) Passengers who arrive after 72 hours of their test will be tested on arrival and retested again on day five (5) of quarantine.
b) Must Mandatory quarantine on an approved Quarantine Mooring and reserve the mooring in advance of arrival.
c) Must continue Nine (9) to sixteen (16) monitored days in an approved home/hotel/vessel at the discretion of the Port Health Officer.
(the country of residence will be the last country that the traveler was present in for at least 21 days): Cuba, Barbados, Grenada, Antigua and Barbuda
a) Will be retested for COVID-19 (RT-PCR) on arrival in SVG.
b) Must Mandatory quarantine for twenty-four (24) to seventy-two (72) hours on a dedicated quarantine mooring to wait for results.
c) May continue Nine (9) to sixteen (16) monitored days in an approved home/hotel/vessel at the discretion of the Port Health Officer.
(the country of residence will be the last country that the traveler was present in for at least 21 days): Taiwan, Anguilla, Dominica, Montserrat, St. Kitts and Nevis
a) Must depart Port of Origin within 72 hours of the COVID-19 (RT-PCR) test.
b) May be re-tested upon arrival SVG at the discretion of the Port Health Officer
c) No quarantine if no evidence of onboard vessel exposure and not in a high risk occupation.
Any other country not assigned to the above categories should be assumed to be high risk. Note : High risk occupations also include a) Crew members (persons coming from a sailing vessel).
• Must contact email@example.com within five (5) days of arrival.
• Must have a negative COVID-19 PCR test result done within five (5) days of arrival if departing by air. • If the in-transit period includes an over-night stay, that period must be spent in a TA/MOHWE approved hotel or on a designated monitored quarantine mooring buoy.
Yachts Cleared into Saint Vincent and the Grenadines requesting to take Passengers:
• All Vessels must contact firstname.lastname@example.org five (5) days in advance of the passenger or crew arrival in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines to request Quarantine on board.
• Only empty vessels located in Young Island Cut Quarantine Area will be considered for Quarantine on-board.
• All persons flying into SVG to join a vessel with passengers or crew already on board must quarantine in a TA/MOHWE approved hotel and apply for monitoring on board after Quarantine.
• All vessels taking passengers/crew for onboard monitoring must contact email@example.com in advance of their arrival and follow the procedures in place for temperature recording and contact tracing.
Here is the application form for Quarantine Onboard Yacht – http://health.gov.vc/health/images/PDF/stories/YACHTS_Request_for_Quarantine_Onboard_nov.pdf
Guadeloupe – open with special circumstances
· Currently, vessels are permitted if coming from EU or other French Islands.
· For any other case, special permission is needed through a local agent.
Martinique – not open
· Target reopening date is January 30th.
Panama – open
· If coming from international waters, a negative antigen or PCR swab test certificate is required from the last port or within 48 hours of arrival.
· It’s being requested that current marina customers not accept any visitors/guest/crew from outside the marina to their vessels.
· Bath House is open 24/7.
· Lockdown/curfew is in effect everyday starting at 11 pm to 5 am. Beaches are open from 6 am to 4 pm (groups / families limited to 7 people max).
· Marina guests are permitted to resume leisure and sport activities such as, swimming, biking, hiking, walking, yoga, etc. but it is strongly encouraged to do this safely and avoid coming in contact with others from outside the marina and resort communities. Kayaking, snorkeling, paddling or fishing sports are not permitted until further notice as per the last release from AMP.
· Guests are permitted to use of dinghies and tenders to move around the local waters. Please contact the marina staff if you require any assistance.
For the latest updates visit https://www.igymarinas.com/article/red-frog-beach-marina-guest-info-covid-19
· Negative PCR test 72 hours prior to arrival.
· All travelers must fill out a Travel Declaration Form through the Health Department’s online portal – https://www.travelsafe.pr.gov/
· If you do not test you must quarantine upon arrival.
· Children above the age of 2 must get tested.
· There is a curfew from 10pm to 5am until December 11th, 2020.
Seychelles – open
· Not open to Americans yet.
· Countries that are allowed to visit:
Category 1 – Australia, Israel, Pakistan, Botswana, Japan, Qatar, Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Cambodia, Latvia, Saudi Arabia, China, Liechtenstein, Singapore, Cote d’Ivoire, Malawi, South Africa, Cuba, Malaysia, Republic of Korea, Cyprus, Maldives, Sri Lanka, Egypt, Malta, Thailand, Estonia, Mauritius, Vietnam, Finland, Monaco, Zambia, Ghana, New Zealand, Zimbabwe, Iceland, Niger, Ireland, Norway
Category 2 – Austria, Switzerland, France, United Arab Emirates, Germany, United Kingdom, Italy
Conditions of travel and stay for visitors from Category 1 and Category 2 countries are available at www.health.gov.sc and www.tourism.gov.sc. Visitors are reminded that application for Health Travel Authorization must be made at https://seychelles.govtas.com/ The Health Travel Authorization received from this service authorizes travel to Seychelles. Authorization to enter Seychelles, and specific conditions, are determined by the relevant officers on arrival.
St. Barths – open
- Prior to departing your last port of call, you must take a Covid PCR test within 72 hours and then present it upon arrival into St. Barth’s. You can also email your results, along with the last port of call you’re coming from and email it ahead of time to the director of the marina. If you are staying at the Port de Gustavia email firstname.lastname@example.org.
- If you have stayed 14 days in St. Maarten or Guadaloupe prior to arriving in St. Barth’s, you do not need to take a test.
St. Lucia – open
· BUBBLE ARRIVALS – Are arrivals from Antigua and Barbuda, Anguilla, Barbados, Dominica, Grenada, Montserrat, St. Kitts and Nevis or St. Vincent and the Grenadines
· Visitors who, immediately before arriving in St. Lucia, were in a Bubble Country for at least 21 days are considered Bubble Travelers and will be exempt from quarantine; however, they must have a negative result from a PCR test taken no more than 7 days before arriving in Saint Lucia and are subject to mandatory screening on arrival.
· All boaters/yachters arriving from within the ‘bubble’ must have travelled directly from a country within the bubble and have been in that country for at least 21 days and/or within countries in the “Caribbean Travel Bubble” for a continuous 21 days.
· Outside of the Caribbean Travel Bubble – Have a negative result COVID-19 PCR test taken no more that 7 days before departure of the last port of departure before arrival in Saint Lucia and are subject to mandatory screening on arrival.
· Days at sea will be taken into consideration as part of the 14-day quarantine. If less than 14 days are spent at sea, the remainder of the quarantine period must be observed on anchor, on the designated quarantine dock, or in a COVID-19 certified property in accordance with the Marine Protocols.
· Vessels arriving at night must remain on board until the following morning when checked by Port Health. Please refer to Marinas for hours of operation.
· QUARANTINE OPTIONS:
Persons may choose from one of the following quarantine modalities:
1. Quarantine on Shore at Covid Certified Accommodation. All cost of travel and nights spent will be covered by boater/yachter.
2. Quarantine on designated quarantine Marina Dock
3. Quarantine on Anchor
For the latest protocols visit – https://www.stlucia.org/en/covid-19/marine-protocols/
St. Maarten – open
· Currently, vessels from a low-risk country are exempt from the PCR testing process. (Locations can be found at https://stmaartenehas.com/travel-requirements/ and scroll to the bottom.
· If vessel is arriving from a moderate or high-risk country (found in the website link above) an rt-PCR test is required 120 hours prior to departure from last port (must be immediate last departure point). Such rt-PCR test results, along with all other entrance documents, must be supplied to a Yacht agent, (please see list attached here – https://www.yachtingstmaarten.com/sites/default/files/YachtAgentsList.pdf), in advance of arrival. No other electronic forms are required for Vessel arrival.
· If testing was not possible prior to departure from last port, Vessel can enter St. Maarten under quarantine, with testing to be done within 24 hours of arrival. The appointed yacht agent can coordinate testing upon request. Vessel must remain under quarantine until negative results received.
· Transit Exceptions: Vessel is able to come to St. Maarten WITHOUT testing for maximum 48 hours in transit (fueling, provisioning, etc., possible). All on board must remain in quarantine on board under this option.
For the most current updates when traveling by yacht go to http://www.yachtingstmaarten.com/latest-covid-19-protocols-2020-2021-yachting-season.
Thailand – not open
Thailand’s targeted reopening date is on December 19th. Currently, there’s no other information to give regarding what protocols will be place to enter.
Tobago – not open
Turks and Caicos – open
· For yachts, a letter and test results must be sent to Mr. Kenrick Kneely at email@example.com requesting permission. An email must be written upon receiving a negative test result from all passengers.
· A Covid 19 PCR test must be taken within 5 days of arriving.
· FYI – the marinas are practically full, so definitely make reservations as soon as possible.
United States Virgin Islands – open
· A negative PCR test must be taken 5 days prior to arrival and submitted to the marina where you are reserved.
· The captain will have to fill out the Travel Screening Portal Form, print the certificate and give to customs at check in at the port. https://usvitravelportal.com/
· Marina is open and honoring pre-existing, long term vessel reservations, subject to health declarations.
· Limited assistance for docking arrivals.
· Marina amenities are currently open.
For updates text – COVID19USVI or 8888777
While some destinations may seem a bit complicated to visit, it all goes pretty smoothly and quickly if you follow the guidelines. You can still enjoy your time somewhere warm and beautiful, just slightly different protocols in getting there for this season. I would highly recommend making all reservations as far in advance as possible, as some marinas are practicing social distancing with the slips, which means less availability than usual. And, if you ‘must’ quarantine onboard a beautiful yacht, I’d say it can be a lot worse.
Should you have any questions on the information above or on yachting protocols in destinations not mentioned above, feel free to contact me and I’m happy to help. This is what I’m assisting my clients with on a daily basis due to the pandemic.
Carissa Gulyas is the founder of Your Wish Travel Co., a Virtuoso member and specializes in small and large yacht charters from 2 people to 120. Follow on Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/Yourwishtravelco, IG @yourwishtravelco, LinkedIn – Carissa Algeri-Gulyas.