CBP advice on boat travel around the Michigan-Canada border

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CBP advice on boat travel around the Michigan-Canada border

The summer boating season is getting underway, and the Detroit office of U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has issued reporting guidelines for boat owners planning to sail the waters between the US and Canada.

The CBP aims to maintain American border security with minimal interference to cross-border traffic, and the Detroit office notes that Michigan’s lengthy water border with Canada and large number of pleasure boat registrations make efficient compliance with federal reporting regulations particularly important in the state.

Anyone entering the US – whether an American citizen or a foreigner – is required to report his or her arrival. For pleasure boats, entry occurs and the reporting requirement is triggered when the boat is arriving from a foreign port or place or has visited a “hovering vessel” (that is, a vessel suspected of smuggling).

The boat’s master is responsible for reporting, and penalties for ignoring the requirement are steep: the $5,000 fine for a first offense increases to $10,000 the second time, and the boat may be seized as well. Face-to-face reporting at an official port of entry is necessary unless the boat operator is participating in a program like NEXUS, the Canadian Border Boat Landing Permit, or the Small Vessel Reporting System (SVRS).

In the Upper Peninsula around Sault Ste. Marie the CBP’s 24-hour numbers for reporting arrivals are (906) 632-2631 and (906) 632-7221. Face-to-face reports are taken at the George Kemp Downtown Marina in Sault Ste. Marie and the Drummond Island Yacht Haven from noon to eight at night every day of the week. The Videophone Inspection Program station on Mackinac Island is open 24/7; callers need to provide their boat’s name, length, registration/documentation number (and CBP decal number if over 30 feet), and the names, birth dates, and NEXUS numbers (if any) of the captain and all passengers. They must also state the value of any items to be declared and the name of the American marina to which they are traveling.