Pursuant to 19 CFR 4.2, 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 CBP immediately (see 19 U.S.C. 1433).
The master of the vessel reports their arrival at the nearest Customs facility or such other place as the Secretary may prescribe by regulations. These reports are tracked in the Pleasure Boat Reporting System. Pursuant to 8 CFR 235.1, 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 within the Field Offices 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.
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 in accordance with 8 CFR 235.1, but boaters must still phone in their arrival to satisfy 19 USC 1433.
There are four exceptions to the face-to-face inspection at a designated reporting location, NEXUS, Canadian Border Boat Landing Permit (I-68), Outlying Area Reporting Stations (OARS), and the Local Boater Option (Miami, Tampa, and San Juan). Participation in any of the programs does not preclude the requirement for physical report upon request by U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
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 a foreign port or place, has not departed the United States.
NEXUS Marine program is a joint Canada-U.S. initiative that offers facilitated 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 in accordance with 8 CFR 235.1, but boaters must still phone in their arrival to satisfy 19 USC 1433.
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 to CBP by telephoning in their arrival.
Outlying Area Reporting System (OARS)
OARS is another northern border method for boaters to report entry to satisfy 19USC and 8CFR requirements into the United States from Canada. The OARS program uses videophones, typically located at public marinas, which boaters may use to report to CBP.
Local Boater Option (LBO)
Local Boater Option (Miami, Tampa, and San Juan) is a voluntary effort that will allow eligible, frequent pleasure boat operators and passengers, who are U.S. Citizens or Lawful Permanent Residents (LPRs) of the United States, to register themselves and their vessel with CBP. The Local Boater Option offers facilitated customs and immigration clearance for recreational low-risk boaters at time of arrival. Enrollment to the LBO Program is voluntary and will allow CBP to expedite the arrival reporting process to boaters who have enrolled into the program. This program will satisfy the boat operator's legal requirement to report to a port-of-entry for face-to-face inspection in accordance with 8 CFR 235.1, but boaters must still phone in their arrival to satisfy 19 USC 1433.
Boats for Display, Testing, or Race
Vessels that are entered into the United States for display at boat shows, testing, to take part in a race (not for money) and will not be in the United States for more than 90 days, may be admitted without formal consumption entry or bond. A certificate identifying the boat will be issued to the importer and must be delivered with the vessel to the CBP office at the point of departure from the country. If a vessel entered for such purposes will be in the country for more than 90 days the importer will be required to post a bond. Any boats entered for sale or for sale on approval are not eligible for the Temporary Importation Under Bond (TIB) program and must be entered as a formal entry on a form CF7501.