Caribbean Red Tape

Caribbean Red Tape gone mad

It seems that for some yachts, sailing from island to island in the Caribbean red tape is becoming overly complicated by an organisation seemingly intent on providing jobs for the boys and endeavouring to justify their own existence.

The Joint Regional Communication Centre is a Sub Agency of The Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Implementation Agency for Crime and Security (IMPACS) 

It is mainly responsible for the operations and management of the Advance Passenger Information System (APIS).  It currently screens approximately forty (40) Million passengers annually, specifically those entering, and travelling within the CARICOM Region by air and sea ports.

The JRCC’s whose mission is to provide effective functional support to regional border security systems and law enforcement operations have decided yet again that APIS must include yachts.

Yet the whole matter of APIS for yachts was resolved back in 2007/08 when the JRCC first attempted to introduce it for yachts. Back then it was strongly opposed by marine associations around the Caribbean and by visiting yachts themselves. 

Caribbean Red Tape

The Caribbean Marine Association (CMA) spearheaded the fight against APIS for yachts and this was fully supported by the OECS.

Founded in 1981 The Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States is an inter-governmental organisation dedicated to economic harmonisation and integration, protection of human and legal rights, and the encouragement of good governance between countries and dependencies in the Lesser Antilles in the Eastern Caribbean.

Caribbean Red Tape

APIS was seen by marine associations throughout the Caribbean and by the OECS as being nothing more than Caribbean Red Tape and damaging to yachting tourism. There is no doubt that its re-introduction is harmful to the general reputation of yachting in the Caribbean.

Caribbean Customs Law Enforcement Council

In 2008 the OECS Yachting Committee, with representation from all OECS countries plus some liaison from the French islands, agreed to use the Caribbean Customs Law Enforcement Council (CCLEC) system of yacht reporting known as eSeaClear.  However, due to a breakdown in discussions with the developer of eSeaClear, CCLEC developed its own yacht reporting system, which all OECS countries, plus a few others, agreed to introduce.

The introduction of was designed to obviate the necessity of APIS and ease the clearance of yachts through the Caribbean Red Tape maze.  

It remains an optional service available for use by yachts and other pleasure craft operators who wish to submit their Customs declarations in the form of electronic notifications, prior to arrival in countries where the system is available. 

It enables registered users to access the system to enter and update notifications about their vessel or vessels, crew and passengers while transiting the Caribbean region.  Users of SailClear simply submit their voyage details in its entirety in the first instance thereafter only minor alterations and edits are needed for ongoing/future voyages.

Impossible system for yachts

Caribbean Marine Association“There are so many reasons why APIS is not appropriate to yachts,” says John J Duffy President of the Caribbean Marine Association.  He added; “APIS is an impossible system for yachts to operate as was found out by Antigua when they, briefly, introduced it.”  

Scissors and ribbon

Duffy further explains, “Insofar as I am aware, it is only St. Kitts & Nevis who seem to be attempting to use APIS, all other Caribbean islands appear to be complying with the 2008 OECS/CCLEC/CMA led agreement.”

SailClear service is currently available to Customs, Immigration and Port Authority although initially only Customs and Immigration will utilise the system.  The overarching objective of which, is to enhance the user experience by providing a quick and seamless process of facilitation through the required authorities.

What this translates to is more of the yachtsman’s valuable time being spent in enjoying their trip.