CBP Reminds South Florida Boaters of Federal Reporting Requirements
Miami - With its warm temperatures and relatively smooth waters, South Florida attracts thousands of pleasure boaters pretty much year round. However, Independence Day marks the official start of the summer boating season, when the greatest number of vessels take to the water.
Ahead of next week's Fourth of July celebrations, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officials want to remind boaters of required reporting procedures to ensure the safety and security of the boating public.
"For small pleasure vessels that visit any foreign port or place or have contact with any hovering vessel at sea, the trip is not complete until the master and all passengers report to CBP as required by federal law," said Diane Sabatino, CBP Port Director at Port Miami, during a news conference held Thursday at the port. Representatives from the U.S. Coast Guard also participated in the news conference by providing information about marine safety on small vessels.
Federal law requires that all U.S. citizens, permanent residents and aliens seeking entry to the United States must report their arrival.
The master of any American or foreign flag pleasure boat.
When a Vessel Must Report
All operators of small pleasure vessels must immediately report to CBP if they have:
- Arrived from a foreign location;
- Had contact with a foreign vessel or any vessel returning from a foreign location;
- Received merchandise outside the U.S. territorial waters.
Note: 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.
Telephone numbers to call upon arrival into Florida
(800) 432-1216, (800) 451-0393 or (877) 330-7327.
Information needed when calling
Vessel masters must have the following information available:
- Name, date of birth and citizenship of all persons on board (including passport number);
- Name of the boat and/or boat registration number;
- CBP user fee decal number (if 30 feet or longer);
- Homeport and current location; and
- Return contact number.
Only the master may go ashore to report the arrival to CBP by phone. No other person may leave or board the boat and no baggage or merchandise may be removed or loaded until the report of arrival is made and release granted by a CBP officer.
Where to Report
South Florida has several official reporting locations:
- Key West
- Port Miami
- Tamiami Executive Airport
- Opa Locka Airport
- Port Everglades
- Ft. Lauderdale General Aviation Facility
- Ft. Lauderdale Executive Airport
- West Palm Beach
- Palm Beach International Airport
- Ft. Pierce, St. Lucie County International Airport
For a complete list of all Florida reporting locations, please visit the CBP Florida Website.
Failure to Report
Failure to report can result in civil penalties as defined in Title 19, United States Code, Section 1436 to include a penalty of $5,000 for the first violation and $10,000 for each subsequent violation with the conveyance subject to seizure and forfeiture. In addition to being liable for a civil penalty, any master who intentionally commits a violation under subsection (a) of the above stated section, upon conviction, is liable for a fine of not more than $2,000 or imprisonment for one year or both.
Local Boater Option
The Local Boater Option (LBO) program is available in South Florida to boat operators who are U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents of the United States. This voluntary program allows frequent pleasure boat operators and passengers to register themselves and their vessel with CBP.
The LBO program offers facilitated customs and immigration clearance for recreational, low-risk boaters at the time of arrival. CBP offers expedited arrival and reporting processing to boaters enrolled in the program. This program satisfies the boat operator's legal requirement to report to a port of entry for face-to-face inspection. However, boaters are still required to phone in their arrival to CBP. Unless directed by a CBP officer, a participant in this program does not have to report for an in-person inspection.
Visit the Small Vessel Reporting System website to apply online for LBO participation and schedule an appointment for an interview.
Small Vessel Reporting System (SVRS)
In 2010, U.S. Customs and Border Protection developed the Small Vessel Reporting System (SVRS) for the Florida area of responsibility (AOR). SVRS is a web-based automated on-line reporting system created for LBO participants to expeditiously report their intended arrivals from foreign ports. In addition, the web-based system facilitates the enrollment of new applicants for the LBO Program.
New applicants are able to enroll and make an appointment for a face to face interview with a CBP officer at an authorized reporting location of their choosing. Once participation in the LBO Program is granted by CBP, the participant will receive an email with their Boater Registration (BR) number and password for SVRS. Current LBO participants must apply online for a password to access the float plan functions of SVRS.
The program is designed to provide LBO participants an easy to use web-based tool to record and update their intended international travel on a private vessel by filing a float plan. Float plans consist of biographical information of all persons intending on traveling, vessel registration information and itinerary information. Once a float plan is entered and activated, SVRS will issue a float plan number. The float plan will be vetted by CBP prior to the vessel's return to the United States.
Upon return to the United States, the LBO participant who filled the float plan will contact the CBP Small Vessel Call Center (SVCC) to make a formal notification of arrival. Persons traveling who are not LBO members must report to their nearest CBP Office for immigration processing within 24 hours of arrival.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection is the unified border agency within the Department of Homeland Security charged with the management, control and protection of our nation's borders at and between the official ports of entry. CBP is charged with keeping terrorists and terrorist weapons out of the country while enforcing hundreds of U.S. laws.