Failure to report boat arrivals could result in fine
Boaters getting warning notices for checking in late with the border shouldn’t take it like a slap on the wrist, according to Customs and Border Protection (CBP) public information officer Tom Schreiber.
“Our goal is not to penalize people,” Schreiber said. “Our goal is to obtain informed compliance.”
CBP looks at boaters who intend to clear U.S. customs at Point Roberts and who arrive after the close of small boat reporting times from 5 p.m. in the winter and 8 p.m. after May 14 – as line jumpers. By law they are subject to a fine of $5,000 for a first offense and $10,000 for subsequent offenses.
In June 2007, Schreiber said, CBP first began issuing “notices of violation” to first time late arrivals to clear up what he called a “gray area” in enforcement of the law, specifically how to deal with someone who clearly didn’t know the rules but was trying to do the right thing by reporting.
“What they are going to do now is if a boater arrives after hours they will be met by an officer and they will be informed of reporting requirements and they will be handed a warning notice,” Schreiber said.
“We will take each violation according to the circumstances available to us,” Schreiber said. “The officer will issue the violation if it’s a willful violator. We rely on the discretion of officers and we rely on the discretion of supervisors to mitigate penalties.”
Schreiber would not comment on specific emergent circumstances, such as dangerous weather of equipment failure under which a boater might be compelled to come into the port after hours, except for a medical emergency, such as a heart attack. “We are probably not going to issue a penalty at that point,” he said.
Boaters who are issued a penalty can request mitigation from the CBP fines and penalties office in Blaine.
To avoid the late reporting problem all together Schreiber suggests regular boater join the NEXUS or I-68 programs, which allows for reporting by phone.