Private Investigator - Boat Licenses

The Island Newspaper, Ambergris Caye, Belize            Vol. 18, No. 4            January 24, 2008

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Private Investigator: Boat Licenses
Q: A friend of mine owns property in Belize, lives here three months at a time, owns a boat that is registered in Belize, but is not a resident. He has been told by the Belize Port Authority that the Harbor Master has determined that if you don’t have residency in Belize you can not apply for a Boat Captain license to operate a boat in Belize. By the new law that went into effect last June, anyone who operates a boat in Belize can be fined up to $1000 BZ if they don’t have a boat captain license. Up until this new interpretation of the law, anyone could apply for and be grated a license after passing the test. Is this for real? /s/ Via Email

A: The Harbors and Merchant Shipping Act was amended in May and the new rules and regulations impose stiffer fines and demand higher standards from boat owners and captains.

    The Amended Act touches several key and sensitive issues such as boat registration, captain licensing, accidents, sensitivity to the environment and foreign vessels.

    Amended in the new Act was the fact that all owners and operators of vessels larger than a paddling dory must have a captain’s license, “I want them to understand that we are serious about this and […] to those captains who are out there navigating the waters without a valid masters or captain license to do so as soon as possible,” stated Earl Valerio of the Belize Port Authority back in July. Valerio also commented that every person with the intention of driving a vessel must get a license. For veteran boat captains, those who have never applied or received a captain’s license ever must do so now. “They have to take the test and do everything that everybody else does. It’s just that maybe they’ll be able to get their license faster because when it comes to the practical part, they know exactly what they are doing.”

    However, the Act stipulates that in order to get a license one must be a Belizean or a resident of the country. So, how does that apply to homeowners who live in Belize for a temporary period of time and own a boat? Via a telephone interview, Ports Commissioner Major Lloyd Jones stated that any individual who owns a boat which is registered in the country may contact his office in the hopes of finding a solution. “We look at every case, each one is different and depending on the applicant’s immigration status then we will be able to determine whether they qualify for a license. Another determining factor will be if the applicant is in possession of his Master’s Boat License from their country of origin.” Major Jones went on to explain that the same ideology as a Vehicle Driver’s License applies to the Boat Captain License. If you have a license from another country and it is equivalent to a Belize license, then the captain may use his license within the country for a temporary period of time.

    For further information contact (223) 0714 and ask for Kenrick Daly or Earl Valerio.
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