Clearance procedures Fiji
Clearance formalities for yachts arriving and departing Fiji (Dec 2013)
Before you depart for Fiji you MUST lodge a 48 hr Notice of Arrival on the correct form, A copy of the correct form can be downloaded “Advance Notice of Arrival Form”
On reaching Fijian waters, you must first call at a port of entry where Pratique, Customs, Immigration and Quarantine formalities must be completed.
Fiji has four Ports of Entry and departure: Suva, Lautoka, Savusavu and Levuka. Plus Vuda Point Marina is now an approved Boarding Station.
"Warning: Your first landfall in Fiji MUST be made at an official Port of Entry. Do NOT stop at outlying islands before checking in - heavy penalties are imposed.
Fiji Customs must be notified a minimum of 48 hours prior to arrival using the form C2C downloadable from FIRCA (Fiji Inland Revenue and Customs Administration). Fax the form to Customs at one of the Fiji ports you wish to enter (Suva - (679) 3302864, Lautoka - (679) 6667734, Savusavu - (679) 8850728 or Levuka - (679) 3440425) or email Fiji Customs. Failure to comply can attract heavy penalties.
Please note the word minimum means that you can fax it in before you depart your last port in order for it to be on record upon your arrival.
You may not leave your boat until all of the officials have cleared you. In Savusavu, Waitui Marina and Bosun's Locker will perform the clearance for you free of charge if you pick up one of their moorings, Copra Shed Marina has a minor additional charge.
Do not get caught dropping an anchor anyplace in Fiji without being cleared into the country. Heaving-to is acceptable if outside a port, just keep an eye out for small, unlit fishing boats._________________________________________________________________________________
Working hours of clearance are from Mon to Thurs 0800-1300h, 1400-1630; Fri 0830-1300, 1400-1600h. Overtime charges may be enforced outside of these hours.
It is the vessel master’s responsibility to ensure that all people on board are in possession of valid travel documents.
Documents required prior to arrival are:
√ Certificate of Clearance from your previous port/country (even if it is your home port)
√ Crew lists with details of passport numbers, nationality, age, position on vessel.
√ Valid passports for all personnel.
Once cleared into Fiji, if you intend to sail to another clearance port (either directly or via the other islands), you must first obtain a cruising permit from Fiji Affairs in Suva then clear out with Customs from the Port of Entry you cleared into Fiji at. Once this has been done you are then free to travel Fiji Waters. Weekly yacht position reporting is a requirement while in Fiji waters, this can be done by email to firstname.lastname@example.org
If your vessel is in excess of 100 tons you should contact a yachting agent prior to arrival. There are many differences in clearance formalities for vessels over 100 tons which would be worthwhile knowing.
Entering into or departing Port of Entry
Before proceeding to a Port of Entry, all vessels are required to communicate with Port Control on VHF channel 16 to request permission to enter the port, and to obtain information on all vessel movements in the harbour. On entering the port, proceed directly to the designated quarantine area indicated on your chart. Fly the international yellow “Q” flag (requesting Pratique) and await instructions or arrival of the correct authorities. Apart from Pratique, Customs, Immigration or Quarantine Officers, no one should be allowed to board the vessel, nor any person or article leave the vessel until all clearances are granted.
The Ports Authority of Fiji levy a fee applicable to all vessels entering any of the ports of Suva, Lautoka, Savusavu and Levuka. Vessels up to 100 tonnes pay a maximum of $10.45 FJD.
Prior to departing a port of entry, you should notify Port Control of your intended movement.
Pratique On Arrival
The Health Officer should be the first official to clear the vessel. You will be instructed to await the arrival of the Health Boat or to proceed directly to the wharf and await the Health Officer’s arrival. The Department of Health levy a F$150 plus VAT fee for this clearance which must be paid at the Divisional Medical Officer’s office, usually at the local Hospital.
Customs On Arrival
After clearance by Pratique, you are required to moor your vessel until cleared by Customs. You must facilitate the
Customs Officer to board your vessel. The Customs Officer will process you with a thorough declaration of the yacht’s intentions and stores held aboard whilst in Fijian waters. Please do not take this declaration lightly. The penalty for falsifying declarations is severe.
Visiting yachts may enter and be kept temporarily in Fiji without payment of Customs dues provided:
√ The yacht is the sole property of the bona fide tourist;
√ The yacht is on a bona fide cruise or participating in a yacht race;
√ The yacht shall remain in Fiji for a period not exceeding 12 months of its arrival;
√ You are classified as a “Superyacht” wishing to charter for up to 6 months & hold the necessary approvals.
Your yacht will become liable to pay duty if:
√ It is put to commercial use or for other consideration whilst in Fiji waters (taken for commercial charters, hired or lease, cruises, etc.);
√ The owner is associated in any way with any entity in Fiji as an employer or employee, either upon arrival or subsequently;
√ The owner is a holder of a Fiji Immigration Permit to enter and reside in Fiji either upon arrival or
√ The yacht is not exported within 12 months of the day of the yachts arrival in Fiji.
(unless extensions have been approved)
Upon arrival you will be allowed “landing passengers allowances: regarding high duty goods such as liquor, beer or wine and tobacco (cigarettes), per each adult person above 17 years of age. All spirituous beverages in excess of allowance on arrival will have to have duty paid. Sealing of stores on board the yacht will not be permitted. No duty free spirituous beverages or other bonded or drawback goods will be allowed on board for any vessels less than 100 tonnes. Customs will allow a full list of all dutyable items to be stamped on arrival. On departure this list will be amended to that currently aboard and duty paid on the difference.
Only duty paid goods will be permitted to be exported on vessels less than 100 tonnes. Other than duty applicable on the above, all equipment on board or imported for the boat shall be kept “duty free” provided such goods depart the country with the boat. For all such equipment you are visitors aboard “yachts in transit”.
As with most countries world-wide, Fiji is taking a very hard line attitude to persons or yachts found with drugs, dangerous weapons (see below), pornographic material or other prohibited items. If you have any doubts as to the legality of items aboard, you are strongly advised to contact the relevant authorities prior to coming to Fiji. Being caught with prohibited items aboard, once you arrive in Fiji, can lead to a prison sentence.
If you wish to visit another Customs Port or cruise within Fiji waters, you must clear outwards at the Customs Port where you first entered your yacht inwards.
No cargo, stores or any other goods whatsoever are to be unloaded from the craft.
If you are in possession of firearms and ammunitions, you must surrender both arms and ammunition to the Customs officer who clears the vessel. Whilst the vessel is in Fiji, the firearms and ammunition are held in safe keeping at the port of call Police Station. These may be collected before leaving Fiji by timely arrangement with the Police (at least 48 hours notice to be given).
Extensions beyond 12 months are available by application. Extension of the initial 12 month stay is not automatic and must be applied for in advance, and is at the discretion of the Minister of Finance. Remember, apply in advance before your initial 12 month permit expires. It is advisable to contact a yachting agent for advice on this application.
Customs On Departure
Within 24 hours of your planned departure from Fijian waters, you should proceed to the Customs office on the main wharf and complete Customs Clearance formalities. You will need your inbound clearance papers, crew details, the details of your vessel and next port of call. You are required to sail from these waters within 24 hours. If you are delayed beyond this time, contact the same Customs people immediately. Customs must be cleared before Immigration, and Customs will not clear you unless all Port dues and Health fees are paid.
On Arrival Yachtsmen require permits from an Immigration Officer before they disembark. If an Immigration Officer does not meet the yacht on its arrival, a message should be sent via the Customs Officer requesting their attendance.
Immigration will clear all persons at the yacht and no one is to disembark before approval to do so is given. The Immigration Department may expect you to pay for the taxi costs to get the officer to the wharf and back.
Notification of vessels arrival and its need to clear Immigration should be relayed through the harbour’s Port Control.
The owner or captain of the yacht will have to ensure that the Immigration Department sights every person aboard, their passports, and receives from all concerned a correctly completed passenger arrival card.
If a crew is signing off the yacht, he should produce a return ticket to his country of nationality or permanent residence. It is the owner or captain’s responsibility to ensure that all crew who signs off/on should first obtain the approval of an Immigration Officer.
Last port clearance should be presented while clearing with Immigration Authorities at a clearance port.
He/she should also produce a list of the arrival crew to ensure that all crew who have arrived on the yacht are leaving. The only exemptions will be the ones who were officially signed off/on by the Immigration Officer.
Clearance will be done on board the vessel (not ashore) and if you are not along side a port controlled wharf, you will be required to dispatch your tender to take the Immigration Officer to your boat. The Immigration Officer will require you to pay (on production of a claim form) for the transportation cost to get him to the wharf and back. The clearance will be provided free of charge. Also there is no overtime charge applicable to Immigration clearances that are needed outside of normal working hours.
Immigration On Departure
Immigration is the final authority to clear the yacht out of Fijian waters. An appointment should be made in advance of your departure advising where you wish to clear from, (it is not essential to clear out from the main wharf as it is on arrival). Immigration will expect you to physically depart the Port immediately on receiving this clearance, therefore, it is advisable to complete all business ashore prior to this clearance. On departure, the Captain of the yacht will be required to complete, in duplicate, the Department Statement. In addition, he will be required to surrender the following documents:
√ Authority to Disembark
√ Arrival Statement by Master/Owner; and
√ Cruising permit (where necessary)
It is an offence to call in at any islands before arrival clearance or after receiving departure clearance.
The penalty for breaching any requirement can be severe. It is therefore advisable not to rely on hearsay information.
Always inquire with the proper department for the correct advice and up-to-date information.
A Quarantine fee must be paid on arrival in Fiji of FD$150 plus VAT.
On arrival in a Port of Entry, you should make it known to all authorities if you have any prohibited items aboard.
Otherwise, Quarantine will be notified by Customs if an inspection is deemed to be necessary.
Overseas yachts are requested to declare on arrival the following:
√ Foods (tinned or packaged), including meat, sausages, salami, ham, pork, poultry, eggs, fats, milk, butter, cheese.
√ Plants/parts of plants (live or dead) including vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, bulbs, flowers (fresh or dry), mushroom, straw, bamboo or any other articles made of plant materials.
√ Animal products including semen, feathers, fur/skin, shells, hatching eggs and any other.
√ Animals, reptiles, fish, birds (or parts thereof), alive or dead, stuffed or mounted.
√ Soil or equipment used with animals or any kind, or that have come in contact with soil.
√ Biological specimens including vaccine cultures, blood or any other biological specimen.
√ Domesticated pets to be bonded (cats/dogs/birds).
Many of the above items will not be permitted to be kept aboard the yacht for the duration of the visit in Fiji. What is allowed to stay aboard will be at the sole discretion of the Quarantine officer at the time of Quarantine inspection.
Garbage should not be discharged without the permission of the Quarantine officer and subject to such terms and conditions as he may impose.
To visit any ports, island or anchorage outside of Suva, Lautoka, Savusavu or Levuka, you need to file a Customs cruising permit as well as obtain a permit to cruise the islands. This permit acts as a letter of introduction to the ‘Turaga ni Koro’ (the village head), the ‘Buli’ (head of the provincial subdivision), or the ‘Roko Tui’ (provincial head). Along with the permit, you will be briefed on the protocol to be observed when visiting the outer islands. Following such protocol will help ensure that your visit is pleasant and memorable.
Cruising permits can be obtained from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs located at 61 Carnaon Street in Suva, or from the Commissioner Western’s office in Lautoka, the Commissioner Eastern’s office in Levuka, or the Provincial Office in Savusavu. You must bring with you your Customs papers and details of all crew members and skipper.
If you wish to visit the Lau Group, this may now be included on your cruising permit.
If you would like to visit the Lau Group, the least expensive way is to do the leg work yourself in Suva. Per Rich and Jude: Lau is easy. You will need a police clearance from central police headquarters at 4 Mile (a suburb of Suva), or current police clearance from your own country (this will save time). Make an application to the Lau provincial council which has a little office up the arcade opposite the Suva bus terminal. You need to provide personal and boat details, explain why you want to visit the area and state specific dates at each island. Cost is F$50 for the permit plus $5/day monitoring fee (all vessels need to be tracked).
Do not think about trying to cheat. There is an active coast watch system with the Turaga Ni Koro's. In times past, some yachts have received a scolding the first time, large fines on the second. Some have received large fines and expulsion on their first flaunting of the law.
Yachts visiting Fiji for less than one year are exempt from the Fiji Marine Department Regulations.
Countries whose nationals do not require a pre-entry visa to Fiji include Australia.