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Sunday, March 11, 2012

How Many Gringos Does It Take to Check Out of Mexico??

We took steps to check out of Chiapas, Mexico just this past Friday. Enrique was not here to hold our hand, so 4 boats opted to try and do it alone because the Harbor Master's office closes at 2pm on Friday, is also closed over the weekend, and we hoped to head south Monday morning. We thought we would have enough time - until we learned that the credit card machine is broken in the Harbor Master's office - which means a trip all the way into Tapachula to the bank and payment in cash. Here is our story.

Three boat captains and I negotiated a cab – in the end, it cost us 500 pesos and it took 4 hours. Maybe it was too much, maybe not. We were happy to split the cost 4 ways.

STEP #1:
Our cabbie drove us from Marina Chiapas to Puerto Madero to visit the Harbor Master. We filled out specific crew lists forms (AVISO DE SALIDA YATE VELERO) and gave him copies of our boat documents, a copy of our check in/out from the last port of call, and copies of our passports. We were given one paper to take to the Banamex bank in Tapachula and we were given 4 copies of our new official crew lists.

STEP #2 (which can be skipped if you use a credit card AND the machine isn’t broken)
From the Harbor Master's office, we took our cab to the Banamex bank in Tapachula - to pay 227 pesos. We were given a receipt for payment.

STEP #3:
We stopped at the airport between Tapachula and Puerto Madero to visit the Immigration office. He wanted to see our Tourist Visas, our passports, the copy of the official crew list from the Harbor Master and he asked many questions in Spanish. One boat had his Tourist Visas, but he didn't have the bank receipts showing he paid the bank for his Tourist Visa and so he had to pay again - in full - 588 pesos for both he and his wife. Remember to bring the bank receipt with your Tourist Visa! Folks with FM3's need not have a receipt. The immigration officer stamped all four copies of the crew list and kept one for himself, as well as the Tourist Visas and copies of our passports.

STEP #4:
Our cab then flew (and I mean flew!) to the API office. We showed him copies of our officially stamped crew list and told him how many days we had been in the marina. Each boat was given a bill for 10 days - 765 pesos. That is to be paid in cash. We were then given an official paid, stamped receipt. We asked the API guy if he would make some copies for us: our Banamex bank receipts and the stamped official copy of the API doc, all which go to the Harbor Master. We offered to pay. He made copies of the documents we would give back to the Harbor Master for free. That saved us one trip to a copy shop.

STEP #5:
From there, our cab driver zoomed back to the Harbor Master. Since the office closed at 2pm on Friday, we had been given instructions to give our documents to the guard. We brought a large envelope with us, organized the documents for the 4 boats and stuffed them in the envelope with the date and time of our planned departure written on the front of the envelope... because the Navy has to officially check you out of the country on the day that you are to leave.

Yesterday, an official from the Harbor Master's office visited each of the four boats and presented each with a beautiful certificate permitting us exit privileges: SECRETARIA DE COMMUNICACIONES Y TRANSPORTES. We were told that the Navy will be here in the morning to do their final inspection with us.

This process was long, but it was a piece of cake. It was fun to do it with the other boats and the officials, though very official, were gracious and accommodating. I’m especially thankful to the Harbor Master for being flexible.

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