|Proof that we are temporarily imported.|
A few weeks ago while we were patiently baby waiting in Guadalajara, we got a mysterious phone call at 10:30 at night. A anxious sounding man on the other end of the line told Vlad that Customs officials were going to impound our boat unless we produced our Temporary Import Permit, not the kind of phone call you like to get when 5 hours away by bus, and, no, we don't travel with copies of our T.I.P. To make matters more sporting, evidently there was an armed guard standing outside Bettie just to make sure we couldn't make a break for it from Guadalajara.
Vlad told the man that we had our T.I.P. and the sticker was on display in the portlight. If that didn't mollify the authorities, there was little we could do to solve the problem from Guadalajara, but the person we were speaking with thought the sticker might suffice.
Needless to say, this phone call prompted more questions than answers. For instance, who called us? How did he get our number? And why were Customs dudes checking for paperwork in the middle of the night?
The answers will come shortly, but first a little information on the T.I.P. We got ours way back when in Cancun when we were just neophyte cruisers learning all about Latin American documentation (copies, always bring lots of copies!). All boats entering Mexican waters need a Temporary Import Permit, which for $50 allows you to keep your boat in Mexico for 10 years. The T.I.P. is a way for Mexico to make sure you aren't bringing in a boat and then selling it here, which is mainly a problem with cheap used cars from the U.S.
As it turned out, the man Vlad spoke with was the harbor master at the marina, and Vlad's dad gave him the number to our place in Guadalajara. Mexican Customs officials were doing a sweep of the entire marina fleet to see who had their T.I.P. and who didn't. As to why that happened late in the evening, we will never know, but marina staff ended up working until almost dawn. Thankfully, having our sticker properly displayed in the window saved us from having our boat impounded to the marina, which might have cost us something even if we had all the relevant documentation and certainly would have been a hassle.
According to the Scuttlebutt Sailing News, the potential fines for not having your T.I.P. is 25% of the value of your boat or possible seizure. Yikes. They also describe similar situations in marinas throughout Mexico, so here's a tip - get your T.I.P.!