Sailing The Dream
Malta, Valletta - checking in and out
We arrived in Valletta in the middle of the night. After a five-day non-stop passage from Marmaris in Turkey and in the middle of some seriously bad weather that we would, soon after dropping anchor, find out it was already part of the recently formed Medicane of 2020.
The entry in the Grand Harbour was one of our craziest entries so far. Surfing waves as we turned to go around the breakwater in pitch black and low visibility conditions due to the heavy rain and then being blinded by all the city lights.
John was unsure if we would make it due to the terrible conditions and me screaming port or starboard while following our GPS signal on two devices at the same time and trying to identify the actual breakwater through the stormy night. We finally found ourselves in the protection of the breakwater. The conditions felt nearly calm considering what we were experiencing just moments before.
We anchored in Rinella Bay behind another yacht that already at anchor in the calm but sometimes gusty anchorage.
The following morning I jumped in the dinghy and went to do our check-in using the guidance given by some friends that had done it the month before.
I reached the building and found a very laid back Customs officer that didn’t seem interested in dealing with me. He was only interested in knowing if I had alcohol and cigars to declare. When I said we didn’t, he told me to knock on the next window in the same counter to deal with immigration.
The immigration police officer tried to stamp Johns passport, but after I explained a couple of times that this was our boat, that it was Australian flagged and that we return to the boat every night, the officer said: Ah why didn’t you said that before?
(Which I did, otherwise we wouldn’t be having that conversation)
I will stamp you both on the crew list (not on the passport - so the time spent in Malta doesn't count for the Schengen time) but be sure to come here if you want to leave by plane or boat.
With the crew list stamped and as per the immigration officer advice, I returned to the Customs officer to confirm all was good from his said and that no papers were needed to be issued. He quickly dismissed me again saying, that only if I had anything to declare. With that confirmed, I returned to The Dream to enjoy a few weeks in Malta.
For our departure, we returned to Valletta, but this time we anchored in front of the RMYC marina on Marsamxett harbour and walked to the same office we had used for our check-in.
There is a Customs office in Msida marina but can only be used during weekdays and normal office hours.
As we arrived at the office, we went straight to the Immigration Police officer window, but there wasn’t anyone there. The officer in the Customs window called us asking what we needed, and the moment we mentioned that we needed to check out from Malta, he demanded our Transit Log.
Panic moment, we didn’t have a Transit Log, only the crew list. Unlucky us, that was the chief officer, and he was pissed with our reply. He started giving us a huge lecture with a threatening tone, to which I politely argued that we did visit this Customs counter twice on our day of arrival, but we got dismissed by the officer on duty.
He was not happy and not having it. I politely replied that he couldn’t penalise us for the mistakes of his officers. I had evidence that we had checked in at this office, as proven by the stamped crew list.
I described the guy (luckily, I still had an idea of what the guy looked like), and immediately the other officers said it sounded like Mr X. They asked the exact day and time we visited, checked against their working schedule and concluded that Mr X was on duty.
Just like that, we avoided trouble!
The chief officer still gave us a lecture on the papers we should have and even gave us a copy. During all this, we were constantly smiling lots and thanking the chief that he took the time to explain to us what should we do next time.
With all this, we ended up getting a second arrival paper/crew list stamped with our departure date as if we had arrived and departed the same day.
What a mess.
***In the spirit of sharing our dreams and experiences we have shared this blog post in the NOFOREIGNLAND.COM website sailors community. In this post you can find information regarding check in and out procedures with location for the Customs and Immigration