Top Menu

I can’t tell you how many times that friends and/or blog readers, knowing that certain items are difficult to obtain down here, have offered to ship us something. In most cases though, unless it is something that we truly need right away, we tend to decline the offer, with genuine thanks, of course. The reason we decline is simply that receiving a package down here is never an easy one-step process, nor is anything ever free. It is not like most people are used to back in North America.

There has recently been a bit of drama here in Grenada relating to the importation of goods by cruisers, especially by those returning to the country via the airport with boat parts in their bags. Grenada does allow cruisers to import boat parts at a reduced duty of only 2.5%. This is a good thing! In order to obtain that reduced duty though, certain forms, specifically a C14, first need to be obtained from a customs officer. Of course, if you just flew in to the country with parts in your possession, there is no way to acquire this document without leaving your stuff at the airport and returning at a later time. Remember that most cruisers don’t have a car! Just recently the government has started requiring that a customs broker also be hired to obtain this lower duty amount. While I thought that this extra step only related to receiving goods at the airport, I found out yesterday that this is not the case.

Since July we have been working with Mantus Anchors to acquire a new anchor for our Amel. At my request, they shipped one to St. Thomas for us as, at the time, we had friends who were planning on coming south, and I thought that we could all save money by having them bring it down to us on their boat. As often happens with cruisers though, our friends changed their plans, and they did not come down. That anchor has since then been sitting in storage in St. Thomas instead of sitting on our bow.

Several weeks ago Mantus shipped a second anchor to us here in Grenada. The 85 lb. package, split into two pieces, was sent by USPS. I have followed the shipment as best as I could but, unfortunately, their tracking data was next to useless. The USPS tracking site has shown the package as clearing customs for the past 5 days. Thinking (hoping!) that maybe it might be available, Rebecca and I went out yesterday to try to find it.

An issue that people may not fully grasp is that without a car, running around from place to place is not a simple procedure. Rebecca and I took our dinghy to the closest spot we could find by the post office, the local ferry dock. Knowing that we weren’t really permitted to leave our tender there, Rebecca stayed with the dingy while I made a “quick” trip to the post office.

The good news is that I found our package. The bad news is that, after some delay, I was sent to the customs office, and then to find a broker, and then back to the customs office to pay, and then back to the post office once again to pay another fee, and finally, to collect the package. After jumping through all of those hoops, a process which took several hours (remember Rebecca was in the dinghy?), I was ultimately able to pay the reduced duty amount (as opposed to the 27% that I was told would be the normal amount). With that added to the brokerage fee, we were out of pocket only about $50.00 US. Only! The fact that it took a good chunk of our day to receive a simple package is the real problem.

What are the alternatives? It is my understanding that if items are shipped by FedEx that a customs broker does not need to be involved (I think FedEx uses their in-house broker). A C14 is still required though. The other alternative is to simply move to another island to receive goods. St. Maarten, for example, is a duty free island, and having received packages there before, I can say that the process is much more streamlined.

While I think that the importation process is overly cumbersome, I should point out that the individuals I dealt with were, as we’ve come to expect with Grenadians, all very pleasant and accommodating. I do hope that the powers to be come to realize that by making things easier, they will increase their revenue as it will encourage boaters to do more business here on island.

8 Comments

  1. We have just arrived back here in Grenada from Australia with a few small pieces of boat parts and Customs wanted us to leave them at the airport. They wanted us to go to the Customs Office in the bay we were anchored in to obtain a signed C-14 document and employ a Customs agent to clear the items into Grenada, this would have cost us almost twice the amount with the extra taxi fares so we chose to just pay the 27%.
    I could not find a process for bonding the parts to be delivered to our Australian ship in transit, duty free.

  2. Mike, think about how this might have played out in our home country of Canada…….probably not much different. In my experience, Grenada is not bad, but of course St Maarten is the easiest. Probably 1/4 of the countries we have passed through don’t even recognize “Yacht in Transit” (YIT). It is surprisingly easy to get packages here in Fiji, they do recognize YIT and they don’t charge any duty – but you need to be properly checked in, and not exceed the time limits for your yacht. If you think about the behaviour of a lot of yachts in the Eastern Caribbean, they’re not really bonafide YIT are they? I’d estimate 50% of the boats zipping up and down the island chain “belong” to one “home island” or another, and just travel outside the hurricane season. Many of those boats haul at Grenada, Trinidad or even St Lucia and deeper inside the hurricane zone. The owners fly down, enjoy their boat for 5-6 months and then fly back home to North America or Europe. Grenada seems to have a system in place, with their own citizens needs in mind, and employs sufficient civil servants to keep it going. Suck it up buddy! 🙂

    • Hi Wade. While there is some truth to what you wrote, the fact is that you haven’t been here for a bit and the procedure has changed. In fact, it is still changing.

      In my mind, there is nothing wrong with critiquing the status quo. Continuing to do something a certain way simply because “that is the way that we have always done it” does not lead to progress or growth, in any area. For example, they seem to once again be trying to promote a computerized system for checkin. That is a good thing! It is a huge improvement over the carbon paper method still employed in other islands. So, why not something similar for the importation of goods? Making it easier will promote honesty and increased business. In other words, more money for the island.

  3. Does this apply to grenadians? As much as I love buying online myself – is this a situation where utilizing a local store to order and recieve for you would work? Just curious.

    • I do not know the process but I suspect it would be no easier. It would also be more expensive for Grenadians to import as they are not eligible for Yacht In Transit duty rates. As for buying local, there are two considerations:

      1. Specialty things are not typically available.
      2. If they are, they cost TWICE as much. If we’re talking a $10.00 part, OK. If we’re talking a $300.00 part, that is not OK.

  4. Customs procedures drive me *insane*. I am dealing with this kind of thing on a fairly regular basis at work.

    We now outsource most of our Customs issues to Fely, Svetlana and Licy at Thompson Ahern International ( http://taco.ca/en/ ). I have no qualms about recommending their services, as for what usually works out to be a very tiny fee, these women can leverage a network of customs experts in pretty much every country to get anything through any bureaucracy imaginable. I tell them “Please help me get package X containing items A,B,C from city Y to city Z” and they just make it happen.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Close