Feds change small boat reporting rules
It’ll take more than a phone call for boaters to come home after a day of fishing in Canadian waters, now that new rules are in place for checking in with U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
The small boat reporting program, under which boaters could call from any phone using an identification number and automatically register their arrival with authorities, has been discontinued and is replaced by a modification of the old I-68 Canadian Border Boat Landing Permit.
“This is an effort to make a more uniform process nationwide and enhance border security,” said CBP public information officer Mike Milne. “The I-68 is going to be the new baseline control document.”
Under the new rules boaters will need to call in when they arrive in a U.S. port after coming from a port in Canada, hovering near another boat, anchoring or fishing while in Canadian waters. Only the master of the vessel can leave to make the call and will need to provide information about boat registration, itinerary and passengers, such as dates of birth and full names or passport numbers. After initial checks based on that information a CBP inspector will come to the vessel to inspect it and verify the passenger declaration. Boats 30 feet or longer will need to pay $25 annually to enter the U.S. through the normal inspection.
To get around the potentially time-consuming process boaters can apply for the I-68 program at any port of entry for $32 per family or $16 per individual. Applicants need to bring three passport style photos to the port and will be fingerprinted during the application process, Milne said. Following a background check successful applicants will get an I-68 card and will be able to call an 800 number to report their arrival in the U.S., and be cleared over the phone unless the inspector feels a physical inspection of the vessel is warranted.
Participants in the NEXUS commuter lane program don’t need to get an I-68 but can use their NEXUS card to call in their arrival by boat. “If people are already in a trusted traveler program why add on,” Milne said. To call in an arrival all passengers on the vessel need to be in either the I-68 or the NEXUS program.
For Canadian boaters the telephone clearance program is only good for visits of less than 72 hours, Milne said, otherwise they need to report in person.