Passport question - USVI to BVI

Jun 17th, 2008, 03:42 AM
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Passport question - USVI to BVI

Going to St. John next week and looking at taking a ferry from Cruz Bay over to Virgin Gorda to visit The Baths. One of my sons' passport just expired, and I get conflicting info on various web sites about whether a passport is needed for a ferry or charter boat to the BVI, or just a DL and birth certificate. He has an appt to go to the passport office in DC and get it renewed, but maybe he doesn't need to do that - anyone here know for sure?
smetz is offline  
Jun 17th, 2008, 06:00 AM
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Not sure how strict they are, but it is now the law to have a passport. I would go ahead and get it renewed and then you don't have to worry about it while you are boating.
girlonthego is online now  
Jun 17th, 2008, 07:56 AM
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We went went in 2005 to St. Thomas we took the day trip to the BIV's. We were required at that time to have a passport at the BVI's cutsoms office, and that was way before all the new passport requirements like it is now.
KVR is offline  
Jun 17th, 2008, 03:19 PM
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You absolutely have to have a passport to enter Virgin Gorda. I went to St. John and Virgin Gorda in May.
patrice123 is offline  
Jun 18th, 2008, 02:34 AM
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Patrice is 100% correct you must have a valid passport. On one trip our friend almost wasn't allowed in because he has long hair and the BVI used deny entry to hippies!
Pulley is offline  
Jun 18th, 2008, 04:28 AM
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and when did this happen pulley???
virginia is offline  
Jun 18th, 2008, 05:55 AM
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You need a passport to get into Virgin Gorda by ferry or charter. Same with Tortola. I went to Virgin Gorda with a snorkel charter from St Thomas in 2006, I went snorkeling in the Indians via Tortola with a charter from St John in 2007 and the Ferry from St John to Jost Van Dyke. All required passports.
tyedye33 is offline  
Jun 18th, 2008, 06:54 AM
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I have to disagree with tyedye33. A passport is NOT yet required to enter the British Virgin Islands by ferry, nor is it required to return to the USVI. This will be a requirement starting June 1, 2009 (unless it's pushed back even further).

However, you MUST have an original copy of your government-issued birth certificate with raised seal and a valid photo ID. Usually, you can use an expired passport plus a current photo ID.

The passport is only a requirement if you fly.

However, the passport control officers in the BVI can be very difficult and make it seem as if the passport is already required, so it's always better to have it. I would still get the passport renewed if you intend to go to the BVI from St. John, but it's not an official requirement until next year.
doug_stallings is offline  
Jun 18th, 2008, 08:16 AM
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Interested in the "long hair" thing...I have heard that anyone with dreads will be denied entry into the BVI's, why is this?? Do they think that this is going to discourage what is already happening there??
mahobaygirl is offline  
Jun 18th, 2008, 08:49 AM
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Virginia, this was in June 2001. We were on board Pirates Penny for the day trip to the Baths. Our captain, Andy, actually asked my friend not to get off the boat when he took our passports to customs. Mahobaygirl, Andy said the scrunity of "long hairs" was because they believe they might bring drugs into the BVIs - like they are not already there! Whether Andy was right or not I don't know.
Pulley is offline  
Jun 18th, 2008, 04:46 PM
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I know this is off topic, but make sure you use blue or black ink on your customs & immigration forms when entering Virgin Gorda. I used a green pen since that was all I had with me on the boat and they made a big deal out of it. Apparently, green and red ink are for "official" use only.
patrice123 is offline  
Jun 19th, 2008, 02:44 AM
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Thanks everyone for the advice. Doug, I did see on the State Department's travel web page that it noted passports were required for air travel, as you said, and that they would eventually be required for sea travel as well. I think it said they expected the rule to be changed "sometime" in the summer of 2008. I was hoping to get something more specific, such as your June 1, 2009 date.

Since we only live about 20 mi. from DC, he's going to go to the passport office and attempt to get it renewed, which they'll do on a walk-in basis with an appointment, if you're traveling within two weeks. I had the experience of going to Canada year before last without a passport, when it was not required, and we really got grilled and warned coming back in. It's possible that they'll turn him away because it's not needed, or because our flight reservations are only for the USVI, where a passport isn't required. I'll let you know what happens.
smetz is offline  
Jun 22nd, 2008, 05:35 AM
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IMO, I think you are definitely better off trying to update the passport. Who needs the hassle of finding out on site? If the passport office already gave your son an appointment, I can't imagine they'll turn him away unless he is ambivalent about whether he needs it or not. I would suggest that your son inform them that he plans to travel to the BVI's and needs it renewed. They ask for your passport whether you fly or go by boat into the BVI's and when you come back, you must go through U.S. Customs. It is, afterall, a different country. When you get off the ferry in Tortola, you have to go through their customs. Even if you get into the BVI's, you'll probably get hassled coming back. The U.S. customs officials/authorities have been on high alert in the Virgin Islands, tightening up customs practices as a part of homeland security. I think they'll err on the side of caution so why test them? It's an unfortunate condition of the times. Please do let us know how the passport office responds.
Tuxedocat is offline  
Jun 22nd, 2008, 08:43 AM
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I would definitely update the passport.

We traveled via ferry last August from St. John to Tortola, and they did give a hard time to someone that had the birth certificate and driver's license, though at that time it was supposed to be sufficient.

I guess it comes down to the whim of who is checking identification--and, I would want to be on the safe side with that.
mah1980 is offline  
Jun 22nd, 2008, 04:25 PM
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tuxedocat & mah - good advice. There is not much point in pushing someone's buttons in that situation. I mentioned above about going to Canada without a passport a couple of years ago, and they let us back into the US but not without a lecture. And the agent mentioned that even though it was legal to travel that way, without a passport they can hold you up on whatever small technicality they want.

Anyway, he did go down to DC, and they renewed it without any question. The only hitch was that he forgot to take is old passport, and so for some reason he had to wait until the next day to pick up the new one. Extra trip to DC, but no big deal. Apparently the people in the passport office were very pleasant and helpful.
smetz is offline  
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