Retiring to STT. Have questions...
Wife & I bought a home on STT in 2012, and we plan to move there in the next couple of years. Lots of questions...
-Can we ship two vehicles in a container with all our stuff in there too? If so, does it have to ship out of Florida? How long does it take to get to the VI? Do we need a customs agent? Recommended shipping company?
-Do shippers run year round?
-Is it normal to rent a shipping container or buy one?
-Vehicles (an ‘85 & a ‘79) will have sat for several months but will be running. Is there a vehicle inspections/emissions test? We don’t have either here in Oregon.
-How long do you have to be a resident before you can get a VI drivers license?
Thanks in advance!
Here are some answers to your questions:
1) Yes, provided you have a big enough container you can ship 2 cars and "all your stuff" in the same container. You can't, however, put any of "your stuff" inside the cars. You can ship your vehicles and "stuff" from just about any major Port. Most people ship out of the Miami area primarily because it's closer to STT. The time it takes to get your shipment to STT will depend on which Port you use, time of year, shipping company and other variables. Normal time from Florida is about 2 to 3 weeks - your shipping company will be the best source for more accurate timing info. Theoretically you do not need a Customs Broker to receive the shipment on your behalf but the process is filled with red tape so you'll find it much easier to hire a local STT agent to assist you. Most contributors on this forum recommend Tropical Shipping (www.tropicalshipping.com) - they been shipping goods to the Caribbean for decades.
2) Yes, shippers run year round.
3) You can buy or rent the container. Unless you think you'll have a use for the used container it's less expensive to rent one.
NOTE: You can find some useful information regarding moving to any of the USVI's and shipping goods by clicking on the "General" dropdown menu at the top of this page.
4) Yes, to register the vehicle you'll need to get it inspected. Again, click on the "General" link at the top of this page then select "Car Information" for more info regarding registering the vehicles. The USVI DMV is notorious for being very inefficient when it comes to registering a vehicle. You can hire someone to register the cars on your behalf and save yourself a lot of time and headaches - well worth the cost.
5) You must get a USVI driver's License within 90 days of taking up residence on the island.
Good luck with your move.
Lots of shipping/broker companies to use, Blue Ocean, Paradise Freight, VI Cargo, etc.
There is a whole process to get your vehicles on the road once they arrive on island. I recall it's on the BMV web site. Of course you need to arrange for insurance first, moving permit to drive it to inspections, then go to registration office. A little different right now with the COVID, all the paperwork is put into a drop box and they call you when it's ready. You may also want to pay a service to take care of all the registration stuff turnkey. All you need to do is arrange the insurance.
Just to add a little. I ship weekly with my job. We usually ship out of miami area using tropical. Full containers sail on Wednesday night and arrive on Sunday. I use Boynes Trucking to clear all of my shipments and ‘road ready’ and register my vehicles. They are inexpensive and good. They usually have my shipments cleared by Tuesday’s. If you rent a container you have one week free to pick it up and return it after it arrives on island. After that they charge demurrage per day. Each company is different but I believe Tropical has the cheapest per day right now of $20. You can contact firstname.lastname@example.org for quotes and specifics.
www.bmv.vi.gov has all the steps for getting your drivers license. You will have to show proof of physical address in a couple of ways so that might be the one thing that takes a minute. You will also need your driving record.
The BMV is by appointment now for most items. For example I have a date in January for a license that I booked 2 months ago. You can check daily though as there are cancellations as my wife was able to book her's for 3 weeks out, went there, was about 30 minutes and she has a temp. There are a list of items you need for a license transer on the bmv site.
As for the registration, I did 2 vehicles during covid, one when the BMV was closed and the other when opened. Again all the info needed is on the website, you will need insurance prior to dropping your paperwork off. Everything goes in a large envelope, with your name, phone number on the outside. It does into a drop box and they supposedly will call you. They never did and I had to follow up by stopping by. The process was pretty quick and with a lot being scheduled on line, there doesn't seem to be much of a wait anymore. I suggest go 30 minutes before they open and you probably can be the first in line. They do not give out moving permits with the drop box, so have a copy of insurance in your car. I drove for 4 months without one. While there get your car inspected, (no emmissions) just lights, parking brake, horn, signals. Pretty basic.
For shipping I bought a container as I was going to use it for storage, much cheaper buying in the states. My container was there before the sailing date, so it was here the next week and released by customs on Thursday (i'm in STX). I had a trucking company drop it off, as I couldn't fit everything into my 20' they dropped the 2nd container off with my 'stuff' and had 7 days to unload it. about 300 for that. The shipping company I used also did the customs clearance on my vehicles so it was easier to just pick it up and not have to run around on an unfamiliar island.
If you have any other questions, feel free to PM me, I can try to help as best as possible. Have a great day. Good luck.
@daveb722 Thanks! So can we put vehicles in a container with the rest of our stuff?
A question on the drivers license, if you're a seasonal resident are you required to get a VI drivers license? We will likely spend roughly 50% of our year on STX and the other 50% in MA. At the moment I would not qualify as a permanent resident of the USVI, although I would like to for tax reasons.
If my wife and I were to get a VI drivers license are we then required to cancel our MA License?
The driver's license rules seem to be written for permanent residents. That is, you have up to 90 days after arriving to get a VI license. When you apply for a VI license you normally turn in your existing state license to avoid the testing, they verify it and send it back to the state for cancelation. You could maybe take the written and road tests and not turn in the state license but I suspect they will still ask if you have one. But it's silly for seasonal residents (over 90 days) to get a VI license and then have to get another state license each time returning to their home state. I've not seen any official exceptions to the 90 day rule. If you claim VI permanent residency (tax purposes, voting, etc) I suspect you'd be expected to have a VI license.
On the other hand, while you are required to have a VI residence (not permanent) to register a vehicle you are not required to hold a VI license to register like most states now require. And you can even use your stateside address as the mailing address with no questions. I guess they recognize there are a lot of part time residents that need vehicles.
Question about vehicles. I have 5 children and therefore drive a lifted Ford Excursion.
I realize the shipping, taxes, etc will be fairly high for a vehicle that size and I've looked into all that, but my question is about the roads? I've read this forum exhaustively and I'm wondering if it might be smart to try to downsize before the move in order to fit anywhere physically!
Coming from Alaska we are used to crazy driving conditions and terrible roads, but I'm concerned about parking and maneuverability being difficult most places. She's a reliable old beast and my husband is a fantastic garage mechanic, so repairs shouldn't be a huge concern for the most part.
Any advice there?
We drove a 2003 Ford Excursion and a 2004 Sports Track to from California to Miami in 2012. Shipped both to STX via VI Cargo. When we left Island in 2019 we sold the Sports Trac on STX and shipped the Excursion back to Florida via again where it now sits in my building after bullet proofing and painting, runs like a champ! One bit of advice, I'd make sure you have some kind of cover to protect from the sun and its effects.
After years of vehicle damage from sun, tree sap, bird and Iguana poop, tree limbs falling, whole trees falling during heavy rains or worse, Hurricanes, dealing with peeling paint and broken glass --I am ready to Buy a nice Garage - and then just be happy with whatever house is attached.
I sure would enjoy driving a ragtop occasionally!
@speee1dy 6 liter Diesel Complete new exhaust, straight pipe no muffler or Catalyic Converter, new bigger turbo, EGR delete, new cold air filter system and several other little goodies. It had new head bolts before I took it to STX so that was already done.
@ca-dreamers That's a lotta work! Bulletproofing is not for the faint of heart, but totally worth it. We found ourselves a 7.3L right off the bat and we've never looked back! I've had so many people offer to buy it off us, but I don't think we'll ever let her go.