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Red tape

Clearing procedures for Suriname are the strangest of all. On arrival, the procedure we went through was: fill in a form for visa at Consular Affairs of External Affairs (30 USD, copy of passport, copy of exit-stampl last visited country, 2 passphoto’s and 2x crew list), pick the visa up in the afternoon and we had to go to the Military Police to get a permit for one month (stamp), plus the announcement that after one month we had to renew the permit at the Immigration Police Obedient as we are, we went there a few days before the renewal date. By bus to Paramaribo and with an other bus to the Immigration Police at the other end  of town. Unfortunately the Immigration Police could not renew the by MP granted permission, as MP was not at all authorized to issue the permit they had issued! Reason: we arrived in Suriname by boat and in that case you do business with the Immigration Police as of the date of arrival. (If you arive by car, MP is your first stop.) We had to return to MP to invalidate their issued permit (stamp), so we returned by bus to Paramaribo city center. After we had convinced two officials at MP (in which we succeeded only after they made various phone calls to Immigration Police and their superintendant), and we received the stamps declaring the first permit was void. Again by bus to Immigration Police and at an other counter we finally received renewal stamps for 1 month.
In Suriname you are allowed to stay for three months. If you want to extend your stay, you have to leave for a few hours. First buy new visa at External Affairs (otherwise you are not allowed to enter anymore as the trick of arrival without visa is only successful if you arrive by boat), then to Albina (on the border with French Guyana), get an exit stamp at the local MP, cross the Maroni by ferry to St. Laurente, get an entry stamp at the gendarmerie, walk around for one day, exit-stamp at the gendarmerie, ferry,
MP Albina for a new entry stamp on the new visa. To renew after one month at Immigration Police...

Trinidad & Tobago: a complete disaster.

And Tobago is the limit. If you check in in Scarborough, you sometimes have to sit for up to three hous on the bench at Immigrations. Furthermore Customs tries to get overtime fee from everybody (office hours are 0800-1200 and 1300-1600). Don't say that you arrived yesterday, because hell will break loose. Just "this morning at 08.20". If Charlotteville is your first stop, the problem is not so big but if you plan to visit other bays, you are in trouble. For Customs and Immigrations Tobago is divided in two pieces. The border is at Plymouth, although this is not a port of entry. If you plan to sail from Charlotteville to Store Bay, you have to turn around at Plymouth to tell the guys in Charlotteville that you are going to cross the border... and upon arrival in Store Bay you take the bus (usually after one hour of waiting) to Scarborough to sit three hours on the bench. If you sail on to Trinidad, you have to go to Scarborough again for check-out and start the whole procedure again on Trinidad. Bottomline: it may be better not to check in on Tobago.
Once we tried to fly out with the cats... impossible as the Quarantaine Department in Trinidad was on strike. Then we'll go by fishing boat, we thought. No, "the ocean is not a port of entry" the strict lady from Immigrations told us and in the end we both flew while the cats were dropped on an other fishing boat at the Surinamese outer marker.

Updated 04/2010
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