If you have ever sailed from country to country you know that checking into a Foreign Port is definitely a process. It is something you will discover is different every where you go, even within the same country. Every port of entry office is different and they range from very laid back to very formal. Before you enter any port you should research the requirements for that country before you go. A great source for worldwide port information is noonsite.com.
You need to know, in advance, what if any visas are required and any health vaccinations that are required or recommended. A flag of the country should be flying as you enter the port along with the yellow quarantine flag until you have cleared customs. In most countries only the Skipper maybe one other crew (check beforehand or risk incurring a fine) may disembark and clear customs. The skipper will bring all the documents and passports for all other crew and clear everyone at one time. Be aware that if you are one of the crew that remained on board, you may not leave the boat for any reason, even for a quick swim, until you have been cleared by customs.
Here are some other tips provided by Mahina for checking into ports:
1. Dress nicely and be friendly and respectful.
2. Consider hiring an agent for these countries: Panama, Galapagos, Columbia, Venezuela, Indonesia, Russia and Egypt.
3. Have or make a flag for each country you plan to visit. bluewaterweb.com is an excellent source for flags.
4. Call on your VHF before you arrive. Find out if you need to give advance warning of your arrival days before you arrive.
5. Make sure to bring your exit clearance from the last port visited with you into customs when you check in.
These are a few tips that could make the checking in process a lot less stressful for you and your crew.
See you on the water,
Sail Away Girl