BVI Customs Fees Set to Increase August 1st

waves magnum

I’m starting to feel that the British Virgin Islands simply does not want our business. Beginning August 1st, the fees paid to enter the BVI via boat are set to rise yet again.

This time, it’s the cruising permits fee. The fee for foreign-based charter companies – all of us here in the USVI – will now be required to pay $16 per person for a cruising permit, up from $4. This means that the charter boats who normally charge $45 for customs, will likely increase that to $57 a person. That’s a ton of money especially when traveling with a family or group. And no fault of the charter boats, of course.

What exactly are we paying when we pay the customs fee? We have to pay the cruising permit, a port fee, a commercial license fee, a passenger tax, plus a park fee when applicable. (Boat captains, please chime in if I’m missing anything here.)

So what exactly should you do? I say stick to USVI waters. There is plenty to do here. In fact, my friends and I have been having just as much fun in US waters lately than we have over in the BVI (although we do miss seeing our friends over at the Soggy Dollar Bar).

Like to snorkel? Check out Christmas Cove, Lovango, Buck Island or Hurricane Hole. Visit Maho Bay or Mermaid’s Chair over on the North Side of St. John.

Looking to do a little barhopping? Visit Angel’s Rest in season. You can also visit Water Island and the ABI bar over on St. Thomas year round. You can grab lunch at one of those spots too, or over at Pizza Pi, the floating pizza boat.

Heck, you can simply enjoy the sights of St. John by water. If you haven’t circumnavigated the island by boat, I highly suggest doing so.

We’ve also heard rumblings that the fees to enter the Baths on Virgin Gorda are increasing as well. If anyone has more info on that, please let us know.

Happy Sunday everyone!

12 comments for “BVI Customs Fees Set to Increase August 1st

  1. July 16, 2017 at 9:56 am

    I posted a good link on our Salty Dog Day Sails Facebook page that has a BVI newspaper article published regarding the cruising permit amendment.

    Similarly there is recent discussion regarding the potential to increase fees for the national parks. That would include the Baths – – not just be limited to the best. This means that charter boats, term or day, desirous of visiting any of the BVI national Park locations including but not limited to: Norman Island Cave & Indians, Sandy Cay, Monkey Point, The Baths, numerous locations in/around Virgin Gorda Sound and some sites along the little BVI chain. Currently for foreign-based charterboats the per DM per person charge is six dollars the amended proposal starts with a raise to 10. I am not certain what the fee at the actual Baz would be as that is lower than the boater rate since you were going by land and at entrance fee although reduced only allows you to access the Baths and none of the other national parks on the same day.

    We are highly recommending to all our Salty Dog Day Sails charter guests the consideration of a memorable USVI Waters based trip! I love what we do, we love sharing it with others why go any further than the natural beauty we have in such close proximity he? We will of course miss our friends at the Soggy Dollar Bar, I would imagine that the increased fees will not dissuade all and we will still have the opportunity to say hello, I’ll be at a bit more infrequently. Happy boating to all!

  2. Becca
    July 16, 2017 at 11:34 am

    I love the Virgin Islands and the BVI too, but really with all the new price increases it seems that they want to keep visitors out. The sin tax is just insane and now the custom fees increase. More and more it feels like the cost of traveling to theVI’s is getting out of control. STT is to commercial, STJ is pricing itself too high with no parking, little shops and too many overpriced restaurants it has lost its charm. And STX not going there. Soggy Dollar is great but at a cost of 200.00 per person is it really worth it? I guess I enjoy the islands and memories of years ago when it was simple.

  3. Linda
    July 16, 2017 at 1:10 pm

    We rented villas for several years in the BVI, until rising rental rates priced us out! For the past 11 years we’ve chosen St. John – better rates, better restaurants, great people and better beaches than Tortola. I agree, looks like the BVI doesn’t want our tourist $

  4. Tom
    July 16, 2017 at 3:21 pm

    I agree with Linda 100%. It’s just insanity!! But STJ seems to be run by idiots now too. Sin tax!!?? More intelligent government seems to be in order. Been coming to STJ for 12 years now, sometimes twice a year. Perhaps we should reconsider STM or STK for our vacation plans. Not my first choice, but………………….

  5. Savanah
    July 16, 2017 at 4:00 pm

    Bummer!
    But — Folks will still keep going.
    What’s $12/pp more dollars on a boat trip.

    The comments on the Sin Tax make me laugh, ya’ll have sales taxe in the states on liquor why are you crying? For the record I did not support it, I also don’t really notice a big change and I love here.

    This is total taboo talk, but some folks that live (on St John) would say there are too many visitors our “slow season” June-August has never been busier and when a business gets really busy, you have a choice, raise the prices, it eventually cuts some people out. Airbnb and Cinnamon Bay Campground (Maho previously) is the only reason our island is affordable (under $200-$300/a night) and the folks who are paying less than that also aren’t usually eating in town everyday, supporting the taxi drivers or taking the boat trips.

    • Reader
      July 19, 2017 at 8:00 pm

      I agree with all your points Savanah! Even with the ‘Sin Tax’ our liquor and cigarette prices are significantly lower than the mainland. Also, if someone can’t afford to pay $12 more per person for a boat trip then they ought to stay in the USVI waters like the author suggested. Going to the British Islands and polluting their waters isn’t anyone’s birthright. I’m glad they’ll raise the rates, maybe now it’ll keep out the riffraff and the British Islands will go back to what it used to be! Less crowded, less noise MORE fun.

    • Giving it up
      July 20, 2017 at 2:48 pm

      Didn’t I read somewhere that the cruising permits were $16 pp per day? For my family of 5 that’s $560/week. Probably going to St. Somewhere else☹️

  6. Rob
    July 17, 2017 at 11:07 am

    What’s $12 pp ? Increases like that over the yrs add up.
    We’ve been traveling to STJ & BVI for about 20 yrs now. Stopped a couple yrs ago because It is nothing like it was.
    We now prefer Granada and Carriacou

  7. Jimg20
    July 17, 2017 at 4:40 pm

    Thank you Savanah. You articulated the exact reason that the Territory government (and now the BVI) always goes to the tourist for additional revenue.

    The corrupt government is taking their own off the top. Then they don’t go after the residents who owe taxes either. They either don’t know how or they will not go after their “own” who are being protected. The failure to collect taxes is a well documented tradition in the USVI.

    So, the solution is to raise villa taxes more than 50%, add “sin taxes” and tax the timeshares. Why not? They can count on Savanah and many others to say, “What’s $12/pp more dollars on a boat trip.” Take a look at your increased costs over the last five or ten years. Yes, there is some naturally occurring cost of living/inflationary change. The bulk of those increases are additional government fees and taxes. They are trying to raise the production of golden eggs by strangling the goose. Why not? The goose doesn’t vote or fight back.

    I can’t exactly fight back directly. I am, however, taking my money elsewhere. If you’ve looked at the map you may have noticed. There are other places to go. Let’s give them a try. I like many others, will be doing that next year.

  8. Coralbaydenizen
    July 18, 2017 at 12:28 pm

    WHERE, exactly, is Mermaid’s Chair? Or are there two of them?

  9. Peggy
    July 20, 2017 at 2:18 pm

    Well…they must have heard we were coming. Chartering a CAT out of BVI in late Sept., so no way for us to avoid the increases. Not going to stop us, or change our plans, but I do feel both blade edges of this sword. I have been going to the USVI/BVI for many years. The sin tax has been negligible. We are heavily taxed on such things in FL as well. And the lodging tax where I live is very high as well because I live in a touristy area. I understand the need for periodic increases. However, on the other hand, repeated increases being implemented so close to one another is dangerous for any enterprise. Your customer begins to feel like it is motivated by greed rather than necessity, they feel like they are being taken advantage, and POOF…your business goes elsewhere. The area is a costly destination already so I wouldn’t be surprised to see a large number of repeat customers vanish. Very sad and upsetting as the locals and business owners count on all of their customers, but repeats that they can bank on far in advance is a real asset.

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