Entering the U.S.
For Some... Coming Home!
Entering the U.S. from a foreign port has become more and more onerous for the U.S. boater as well as visiting foreign pleasure vessels. While this task may seem burdensome to some and a joke to others, especially when considering what is and has been happening along our southern border. Like it or not, the world has changed since 9/11 and we must change with it.
Pleasure Boat Reporting Requirements
Pursuant to the Code of Federal Regulations, operators of small pleasure vessels, arriving in the United States from a foreign port or place to include any vessel which has visited a hovering vessel or received merchandise outside the territorial sea, are required to report their arrival to Customs and Border Protection immediately.
The master of the vessel reports their arrival at the nearest CBP facility or such other place as the Secretary may prescribe by regulations. These reports are tracked in the Pleasure Boat Reporting System. An application to lawfully enter the United States must be made in person to a CBP officer at a U.S. port-of-entry when the port is open for inspection.
CBP has designated specific reporting locations that are staffed during boating season for pleasure boats to report their arrival and be inspected by CBP. The master of the boat must report to CBP telephonically and be directed to the nearest Port of Entry to satisfy the face-to-face requirement, or report to the nearest designated reporting location along with the boat's passengers for inspection.
Any small pleasure vessel leaving a United States port into international or foreign waters, without a call at a foreign port, does not satisfy the foreign departure requirement. Therefore, certain fishing vessels, cruises to nowhere, or any vessel that leaves from a United States port and returns without calling at a foreign port or place, has not departed the United States.
Exceptions to Face-to-Face Reporting to CBP
Alternative Inspection Systems (AIS) satisfy the boat operator's legal requirement to report for face-to-face inspection, but boaters must still phone in their arrival to satisfy these requirements.
There are four exceptions to the face-to-face inspection at a designated reporting location:
- Local Boater Option (LBO)
- Canadian Border Boat Landing Permit (I-68)
- CBP Reporting Offsite Arrival – Mobile (ROAM)
Participation in any of these programs does not preclude the requirement for physical reporting upon request by U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
The NEXUS Marine program is a joint Canada-U.S. initiative that offers expedited customs and immigration clearance for recreational low-risk boaters entering either country through registration into the program.
NEXUS is valid for 5 years and satisfies the boat operator's legal requirement to report to a port-of-entry for face-to-face inspection. Boaters must still phone in their arrival to CBP to satisfy these requirements.
Local Boater Option (LBO)
The Local Boater Option (LBO), a program available in South Florida, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands to boat operators who are U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents of the United States.
The program allows for facilitated arrival and customs and immigration clearance for recreational low-risk boats on arrival in certain ports. Participation in the LBO program is voluntary and satisfies the boat operator’s legal requirement to report to a port of entry for face-to-face inspection unless otherwise directed by a CBP officer. Boaters must still phone in their arrival to CBP to satisfy these requirements.
Canadian Border Boat Landing Permit (I-68)
Canadian Border Boat Landing Permit (I-68) applicants for admission into the United States by small pleasure boats are inspected and issued an I-68 permit for the entire boating season. The I-68 permit allows boaters to enter the United States from Canada for recreational purposes with only the need to report by telephone to notify CBP of their arrival in the U.S.
CBP Reporting Offsite Arrival - Mobile (ROAM)
The ROAM app is a free mobile application that provides an option for pleasure boaters to report their U.S. entry to CBP via their personal smart device or a tablet located at local businesses to satisfy the above reporting requirements. In limited areas, travelers arriving in remote locations may also be eligible to use the ROAM app. Contact your local Port of Entry to confirm arrival notifications via the ROAM app are accepted.
The CBP ROAM app qualifies as an Alternative Inspection System that satisfies the boat operator's legal requirement to report for face-to-face inspection with some exceptions:
- Travelers who require an I-94
- Travelers who wish to obtain a cruising license
- Travelers who must pay duties on imported goods
- Other circumstances as applicable
The Customs Border Protection Officer (CBPO) may initiate a video chat to further interview travelers. Once the CBPO reviews the trip, travelers will receive a push notification and an email with their admissibility decision and next steps to follow, if applicable. Travelers using the ROAM app may use the app to apply to become Verified Travelers (which includes existing LBO, and I-68 numbers) and receive expedited processing on future arrivals.
If interested, the ROAM App is available free at the Google Play Store.