Prior to Arrival

A little advance planning and preparation here will go a long way in making the entry procedure a little less painful.

Before actually docking at your first U.S. Port, there are a number of things that you can do to make the entry process go a little smoother:


≈ 24 hours prior to your arrival:
  1. Get all of the boat's documents together in a central location.(Documentation / Registration papers, clearance document from your last port of call, bill of sale and customs paperwork if importing the vessel into the U.S., and letter of authority from the owner (if not your vessel.)
  2. They are going to ask you about plants and foodstuffs (fresh and frozen), generally canned products are allowed. If you acquired it in a foreign port, either eat it or dump it. Remember if you dump it, no plastic!
  3. Passports... Either collect and store with the boats documents or at a minimum visually sight each passenger and crew member’s passport. This will prevent the invariable panic search of the boat by your crew while the customs officer stands around and waits.
  4. Collect the following information so that you will have it available to you when you make your first call to Customs (Notice of Arrival):
    1. Name of Vessel
    2. Documentation / Registration Number
    3. LOA
    4. Flag
    5. Homeport
    6. Your current location
    7. Your planed Port of Entry
    8. Your arrival Time
    9. User Fee Decal information (or that you will need one)
    10. Return call contact phone number
    11. Full name, DOB, citizenship, U.S. address, and passport number of all persons on board
    12. Your last port of call
    13. Have a list, with values, of anything you or the crew are required to declare

≈ 4 hours prior to your arrival:
  1. Call U.S. Customs at the phone numbers listed for your particular Port of Entry.
  2. Have the above list of information available when you call.
  3. Have pen and paper available when you call.
  4. Be prepared for the fact that you may be directed to a different Port of Entry.

On Arrival - No crew, passenger, cargo, or personal effects are to be landed until Customs has completed their inspection. The master may leave the vessel only to report to Customs if required.


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