Yachting Regulations

Foreign-owned pleasure craft must enter and leave through an international marina, where they can clear customs and immigration and obtain a cruising permit from the harbormaster. It is best, to file a float plan with the expected itinerary, dates and times. Vessels must clear in at each port of call.

The process of clearing in can take three to four hours in Cuba. Getting a cruising permit can take two to three days, but it is almost never denied.

Visitors must have a valid passport.

The captain is responsible for notifying the authorities of air travel for a yachts arriving guests. Private, foreign aircraft are permitted to land in Cuba.

After arrival, the captain has six hours to clear in and should let customs officials know of the yachts intended departure six hours in advance. While in the marina, luggage control will be carried out by customs authorities upon entry and prior to departure. No drugs, pornography, bombs or fire arms are permitted. Yachts carrying guns should deposit them with the coast guard and when the boat leaves, they will be returned.

Authorities will conduct a health survey, checking on the health of crew members and placing pets in quarantine. Yachts must declare provisions and keep all trash onboard, though a garbage disposal can be requested from the harbormaster.

The following procedures are not required but which would make a visit easier:

Captains should make radio contact with port office authorities upon crossing into Cuban waters, 12 miles out. Channels 16 and 72 are the Port Authority; Ch. 19 is the Tourist Authority. HF (SSB) 2760 is the National Coast Network, and 2790 is the Tourist Network.

If you do not make radio contact, there will be a guard waiting for you at the dock. Calling in enables the authorities to organize for your clearing in.

The dockmaster or harbormaster is on Ch. 16. If the marina doesn’t answer, the coast guard may or may not answer, depending on whether the officer speaks your language.

Regardless, he knows you are approaching.

After making radio contact, provide information on the yacht, its registration, last port of call, number of people on board, etc.

Once moored, wait for the authorities. Yacht crew and guests are not permitted off their vessel until cleared in.

Once cleared in, proceed to the dockmasters office with a float plan to get a cruising permit.

Cuba is a virgin cruising ground with pristine coral reefs, calm seas, beautiful beaches and temperate climate. In the past seven years, more than 150 megayachts have visited Cuba, 75 percent of them 40m or larger.

Marina Hemingway in Havana is the most popular megayacht marina with seven slips for large vessels.

Marina Darsena Varadero (about 87 miles east of Havana on the north coast) has two slips for yachts up to 70m. Santiago de Cuba in the southeast has one slip, depending on the draft.

Several other marinas have bays for anchorage, but no slips because of draft constraints, including Marina Vita, Marina Cayo Largo del Sur and Cienfuegos, which has one of the most beautiful, well-protected bays in all of Cuba.

In all, Cuba has 15 marinas with 789 slips, most of them for smaller vessels.Nine of the 15 marinas offer clearing-in/-out capabilities with government officials on site.

Cruising the south side of the island during winter when the northerlies from the United States make the north shore rough. And the west end has the best scuba diving, but there is no marina so yachts have to anchor.

There are no regulations for commercial or private vessels requiring licenses for charter in Cuba.

See the link below for US Coast Guard Cuba Travel Restrictions on Yachts.

US Coast Guard – Cuba Travel