TRAVELING TO VIRGIN GORDA IS EASY...
BE IT BY SEA OR AIR
The following measures are to be adhered to by all non-British Virgin Islanders entering the Territory:
Bonafide visitors may be granted entry for up to one month at the ports of entry, provided that they possess return (or ongoing) tickets, evidence of adequate means of support and pre-arranged accommodations during their stay. Visitors wishing to stay longer will need to apply for an extension. Customs and Immigration offices are located on Tortola in Road Town and the West End, on Virgin Gorda in the Virgin Gorda Airport, St. Thomas Bay Terminal, and the Owen Harrigan Visitors Centre at Gun Creek and on Jost Van Dyke in Great Harbour.
As of October 1, U.S. citizens traveling by air to Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean and Bermuda must present a passport or other WHTI-compliant documentation to enter or depart from the United States.
Visitors from some countries may also require a visa for entry. If in doubt about the necessity of a visa, visit the BVI Tourist Board's website: www.bvitourism.com, contact the nearest BVI Tourist Board Office or the nearest British Embassy, or contact the Chief Immigration Officer, Immigration Department, BVI Government at:
Tel: 284-494-3471 or 284-494-3701 Ext. 4700.
Yacht owners, charter guests, and visitors may bring food into the British Virgin Islands. For the time being, however, because of the worldwide threat of Hoof and Mouth and Mad Cow Disease, a law is in effect which bans the importation of any meat products unless an application is submitted to the Department of Agriculture for approval. Approved permits cost $25.00. For more information, please call the Department of Agriculture at
Good quality, fresh foods are available in the British Virgin Islands from several grocery stores and provisioners on a year-round basis. BVI import duties charged on food products range between 5% and 15% of the invoice value.
Open from: 8:30am to 6:30pm
If you plan to exit and then re-enter the British Virgin Islands during your sailing vacation, please be certain to follow the proper procedures for clearing your yacht and crew with both BVI Customs and Immigration.
The ports of entry and exit are located at:
Road Harbour, Tortola
West End Harbour, Tortola
Great Harbour, Jost Van Dyke
St. Thomas Bay, Virgin Gorda
Hours of operation:
Monday to Friday 8:30am to 4:30pm and Saturday 8:30am to 12:30pm. Closed Sundays and on BVI public holidays. After-hours clearing may be arranged in advance. Additional fees will apply. Call Customs at
Your captain may clear all crew, provided he or she has all of the required documentation, including:
Ships documentation. Prior to leaving the charter base, be sure this item is aboard if you plan to leave BVI waters.
Valid passports for each crew member. (In the absence of a passport, Canadian & US citizens need an original or notarized copy of their birth certificate and at least one piece of photo ID such as a driver's license if travelling between the British Virgin Islands and the US Virgin Islands.)
Be sure you clear into the territory you plan to visit. Don't forget to stop off again at any of the above listed BVI ports of entry on return to the British Virgin Islands.
If visiting the USVI, you may clear in at Cruz Bay, St. John or Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas. If you are not either a US or Canadian citizen, and are entering the USVI waters on anything other than a commercial carrier (ferry, airline, etc.), you must obtain a visitor's visa. Visitors from the UK and all other countries should consult their local US Embassy prior to arrival in the British Virgin Islands to determine what is required to obtain the proper visas for crew wishing to exit the BVI by yacht.
A cruising permit is required for all cruising in the British Virgin Islands.
Seasonal Rates: (December 1- April 30) All recorded charter boats - $2.00 per person per day. All non-recorded charter boats - $4.00 per person per day.
Out-of-Season Rates: (May 1 - November 30). All recorded charter boats - $0.75 per person per day. All non-recorded charter boats - $4.00 per person per day.
Dive, day charter, and sport fishing boats should contact the British Virgin Islands Customs Department at
Connecting airports surround the BVI, making arrivals and departures an easy part of your travel itinerary. Best of all, from any direction you fly, Blue is always in your flight path.
When traveling to the BVI, there are no direct flights from the USA, Canada, Europe, or South America to the British Virgin Islands' main airport, the Terrence B. Lettsome Airport (EIS).
All flights must connect through another Caribbean airport on islands such as Puerto Rico, St. Thomas, Antigua, St. Kitts, or St. Maarten/St. Martin. Your travel agent or international airline will be able to assist with booking flights. If you plan to make reservations online, remember that you will have to request flights to Tortola (EIS).
If you are travelling on to Virgin Gorda, Anegada, Peter Island, or Jost van Dyke, check with your hotel, resort, or villa to make sure that charter flights or ferry service will be available if you arrive after 4pm. Otherwise, plan to spend a night or two in Tortola before exploring the rest of "Nature's Little Secrets." Boat charters can be arranged via St. Thomas, Road Town or Beef Island. Click here for the complete ferry schedule.
The most direct way to arrive to the BVI is via San Juan, Puerto Rico (SJU). Frequent connecting service is offered by American Eagle, Air SunShine and Cape Air, with occasional service by other airlines and charter flights.
If you choose to arrive via St. Thomas (STT), you can schedule a connecting flight via Air Sunshine to Tortola, Virgin Gorda, or Anegada. Most travellers take one of the frequent ferries that travel between downtown Charlotte Amalie or Red Hook, St. Thomas and Tortola. This is very easy - take a taxi at the St. Thomas Airport and ask the driver for the next ferry to Tortola. The ferry will arrive at the immigration station at West End, Tortola. Ferries from St. Thomas to Tortola only operate during daylight hours, so the last ferry is usually around 5pm. Make sure that your flight arrives in time for the transfer to Red Hook (approximately 45 minutes), or make arrangements to stay overnight in St. Thomas and catch the ferry the following morning. Ferry service starts at approximately 7:30am. Click here for the complete ferry schedule.
Travellers from the UK and Canada may find it easiest to travel to Antigua (ANU) and then take a connecting flight to Tortola on Liat, or private charter flight. Limited service is also available from St. Maarten/St. Martin (SXM) and St. Kitts (SKB) on Liat and Winnair.
Charter airline service can be arranged from almost anywhere in the Caribbean. Information for airline charter companies is listed under Airlines.
Flights via San Juan, Puerto Rico Airport Code [SJU]:
The most direct way to fly to the BVI is via San Juan, Puerto Rico. Frequent connecting service is offered by American Eagle, Cape Air, with occasional service by other airlines and charter flights. Air Sunshine has direct flights from San Juan to Beef Island and Virgin Gorda. Seaborne Airlines has direct flights from San Juan to Virgin Gorda.
Flights via St. Thomas - Airport Code [STT]:
If you choose to arrive via St. Thomas, Air Sunshine has regular flights to Tortola and Virgin Gorda. Seaborne Airlines has direct flights from San Juan to Virgin Gorda. Most travellers take one of the frequent ferries that travel between downtown Charlotte Amalie or Red Hook, St. Thomas and Tortola. Ferry service is available to Virgin Gorda and Anegada on certain days and to Virgin Gorda every day via West End or Road Town.
Getting to the next ferry is very easy - just take a taxi at the St. Thomas Airport and let the taxi driver know that you need to take the next ferry to Tortola or Virgin Gorda (with connections to Anegada and Jost Van Dyke). The taxi drivers will know of any schedule changes and make sure you reach the proper terminal for your connection.
Remember that ferries from St. Thomas to Tortola and Virgin Gorda (with connections to Anegada and Jost Van Dyke) only operate during daylight hours - so the last ferry is usually around 5pm. Make sure that your flight arrives in time for the transfer to Red Hook (approximately 45 minutes) or make arrangements to overnight in St. Thomas and catch the ferry the following morning. Ferry service starts at approximately 7:30am. Click here for the complete ferry schedule.
Flights via Antigua - Airport Code [ANU]:
Travellers from the UK (from London, Gatwick) and Canada may find it easiest to travel directly to Antigua by way of the Lester Bird International Airport and then take a connecting flight to Tortola on Liat, or private charter flights.
From other Caribbean Islands
Scheduled service is also available from St. Maarten/St. Martin, St. Kitts, as are connecting flights from Barbados and St. Croix.
Charter Airline Service can be arranged from almost anywhere in the Caribbean. The following charter airlines provide service between the BVI and many Caribbean destinations:
Ports of entry are located in Road Harbour - Tortola, West End Harbour - Tortola, Great Harbour - Jost Van Dyke and St. Thomas Bay - Virgin Gorda.
All vessels entering the territory must clear with BVI Customs and Immigration immediately upon arrival into the territory.
Customs and Immigration offices are located on Tortola in Road Town and West End, on Virgin Gorda at the Virgin Gorda Yacht Harbour, and on Jost Van Dyke in Great Harbour.
Required documents include: ships papers and valid passports for all crew and passengers from their country of origin U.S. and Canadian citizens will need a passport or an original or notarized copy of their birth certificate and photo ID to enter the BVI. To re-enter the U.S. or Canada, you will need a passport OR a photo ID and Dept. of State official proof of application for a passport, or a "passport receipt". Visitors from some countries may also require a visa for entry.
The Leverick Bay Marina on Virgin Gorda has facilities to accommodate long-term regulars, transients, yachts and live-aboards.
The marina has water, fuel stations & include full boat yards, haul-out facilities, chandleries, and support businesses for the industry. Contact the Leverick Bay Marina for reservations, pricing, entry regulations, customs and immigration offices, arrival procedures, marina rules, and other specific information.
Virgin Islands Search and Rescue (VISAR) is a voluntary organisation dedicated to saving life at sea in the waters around the British Virgin Islands.
VISAR provides 24-hour coverage every day of the year, in cooperation with the Royal British Virgin Islands police, fire and ambulance services. VISAR also has a close working relationship with the United States Coast Guard, and is internationally recognised by the International Lifeboat Federation (ILF) as a full member.
VISAR is an independent, volunteer-based organisation funded almost entirely by charitable donations.
Since it was formed in 1988, VISAR has carried out well over 300 search and rescue missions, helped more than 1,200 people in distress, and saved over 200 lives. Although VISAR is not a mobile ambulance service, its crews are skilled in handling medical emergencies of every kind. These have involved injuries sustained in accidents on board or while exploring ashore, and problems encountered while snorkelling, diving or swimming, including occasionally life-threatening reactions to jelly fish stings or sudden illness.
VISAR's volunteers come from all walks of life. They undergo rigorous training in seamanship and small boat-handling skills, as well search and rescue techniques and first aid, including CPR.
They give up their own time to train and answer distress calls with nothing in return except the satisfaction of knowing that they are performing a vital job. With the significant growth in charter yachting and boating in the BVI, the demand for VISAR's service has growing annually.
The beautiful, clear waters of Virgin Gorda, British Virgin Islands offer countless anchorages. Sailors should use caution when anchoring to prevent damage to fragile coral reefs. Where mooring buoys are not provided, sailors should anchor in sandy areas and be sure to never sail at night. Nightfall arrives quickly, and even the most experienced sailors in the BVI do not sail past dusk.
Although we have listed several accepted anchorages throughout the islands, it is recommended that current navigational charts be used when cruising and anchoring in the BVI waters. U.S. National Ocean Service (NOAA), U.S. Defense Mapping Agency, British Admiralty and Imray produce charts for the area. Electronic charts are available from C-Map, BSB/NOAA, Garmin G-Map, Laser Plot, Maptech, Navionics and Northstar.
In order for sailors to enjoy the many beautiful sites both above and below the water, The BVI National Parks Trust has installed over 200 mooring buoys (surface buoys attached to stainless steel pins set in bedrock) for day-time use only at many BVI dive sites.
The system has been operating since 1991, and is aimed at protecting the fragile, underwater marine ecology from physical damage, particularly by boat anchors, and at maintaining the pristine reefs for the future.
There is a 90-minute time limit on all moorings, and use is on a first-come, first-serve basis. Vessels over 55 feet in length or over 35 tons are not allowed to use any regular mooring, but they can use the larger yellow buoys, which are 18 inches in diameter.
Please note that in virtually all of the areas where the National Parks Trust moorings are found, the areas can encounter rough, and unpredictable seas. In addition, some buoys are in the vicinity of shallow rocks and reefs. The moorings are, therefore, for DAY USE only, and it is illegal to use them overnight.
Sailors must check the integrity of their mooring, its pick-up line, and down-line for safety before tying up or leaving the vessel. They are responsible for the vessel, even when tied to a National Parks mooring.
A small fee is charged for the use of the moorings. This conservation fee provides for the maintenance of the system and installation of new buoys in other high traffic areas.
Sailors must, by law, obtain a National Parks Permit, either from the charter company when Customs is cleared, or from the National Parks Trust Office at 61 Main St. Road Town, Tortola.
The mooring buoys are 13 inches in diameter and are colour coded as follows:
ORANGE BUOYS: Non-diving, day use only
YELLOW BUOYS: Commercial dive vessels only
LARGE YELLOW BUOYS: Commercial vessels or vessels over 55 ft.
WHITE BUOYS: Non-commercial vessels, for daytime dive use only
BLUE BUOYS: For dinghy use only .
An International Vaccination Certificate is not mandatory in The British Virgin Islands. In Tortola, Peebles Hospital has surgical, x-ray and laboratory facilities; there is a private plastic surgery clinic as well several private medical centres. A chapter of Alcoholics Anonymous meets regularly. Call (284) 494-4549 or (284) 494-3125.
A cruising permit is required for all cruising in The British Virgin Islands.
SEASONAL RATES: (December 1- April 30). All recorded Charter Boats - $2.00 per person per day. All non-recorded Charter Boats - $4.00 per person per day.
OUT OF SEASON RATES: (May 1 - November 30). All recorded Charter Boats - $0.75 per person per day. All non-recorded Charter Boats - $4.00 per person per day.
Dive, day charter and sport fishing boats should contact The British Virgin Islands Customs Department Tel: (284) 494-3475 or (284) 468-3701 ext. 2533 for current cruising permit requirements.
The currency of The British Virgin Islands is the $US dollar. Major credit cards are accepted in many- but not all establishments. There is a 10¢ stamp duty on all cheques and travel cheques.
All imports are subject to varying rates of duty. Imports entering The British Virgin Islands on a temporary basis will not be subject to duty.
A valid British Virgin Islands Driving License is required by all those seeking to drive in The British Virgin Islands. For a fee of $10.00, a temporary British Virgin Islands Driving License can be obtained from the Traffic Licensing Office or Car Rental Agencies with a valid Driver License from another country. Driving is on the left-hand side of the road in The British Virgin Islands. Minimum age for Car Rentals is 25.
The possession, sale, use or distribution of illegal drugs constitutes a criminal offence punishable by law and conviction on drug charges can lead to stiff fines and jail sentences.
The removal of any marine organism from British Virgin Islands waters is illegal for non-BVIslanders without a recreational fishing permit. Contact The Ministry of Natural Resources & Labour, Tel: (284) 468-3701 ext. 2147 for information.
The following measures are to be adhered to in respect of all non-British Virgin Islanders entering the Territory:
Bonafide visitors may be granted entry for up to one month at the ports of entry, provided that they possess return (or ongoing) tickets, evidence of adequate means of support and pre-arranged accommodations during their stay. Visitors wishing to stay longer will need to apply for an extension from the Immigration Department in Road Town, Tortola or at the Government Administration Building in Virgin Gorda. A valid passport is the principal requirement for entry into the BVI. As of October 1, U.S. citizens traveling by air to Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean and Bermuda must present a passport or other WHTI-compliant documentation to enter or depart from the United States.
Visitors from some countries may also require a visa for entry. If in doubt about the necessity of a visa, contact the nearest BVI Tourist Board Office, the nearest British Embassy, or contact the Chief Immigration Officer at the Immigration Department of the BVI Government at: Tel (284) 494-3471 ext. 4700 or (284) 468-3701 ext. 2538.
The use of National Parks Trust mooring without a permit is illegal. Call the National Parks Trust Office at (284) 494-3904 for information.
For information regarding requirements on getting married in the Territory, contact: Registrar's Office, P.O. Box 418, Road Town, Tortola, British Virgin Islands or phone (284) 468-3701 ext. 5001 or (284) 494-3492.
Pets are allowed entry into the Territory only after an import permit is issued by the Department of Agriculture. For regulations governing animal importation, contact the Department of Agriculture, Paraquita Bay, Tortola, British Virgin Islands. Tel: (284) 495-2532 or Fax: (284) 495-1269.
There is no Sales Tax in the British Virgin Islands.
$20.00 per person leaving by air, $5.00 leaving by sea and $7.00 for cruise ship passengers.
In the British Virgin Islands there is a 7% Hotel Accommodation Tax payable by guests who stay for six months or less in hotels, apartments, houses, cottages, villas and similar accommodations.
Smoking in public places has been banned in the BVI as a result of a law passed by the Legislative Council. The law bans smoking in public places including bars, restaurants, nightclubs, airports, offices, and sports facilities. It also bans smoking within 50 feet of any public space.
Voltage in the BVI is 110/220v. Visitors can use American appliances without an adaptor.
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