Boating in Canada Archive

Border Crossing after 9-11

Since 9-11 (2001), the I.N.S. I-68 Program and the CANPASS program have been suspended. The following information was collected by Frank Jennings, Office of Law Enforcement & Intelligence, 9th Coast Guard District, Cleveland, OH 44199

The I.N.S. will launch a revamped I-68 Program in the very near future to once again facilitate cross-border travel by rec. boaters. In the wake of 9-11, the original program was accidentally suspended.

Under the revised I-68 procedures being drafted, those applying for the I-68 Program will have to personally appear at a local I.N.S. office, be fingerprinted and have their photo taken. As before, immediate family members can apply together and be recorded on the same document. Only those 14 years of age and older will be required to be fingerprinted and photographed. The fingerprints, photos and approved form will then be entered into I.N.S.' I-68 database to enable verification of U. S. boaters reporting back into the country. Boaters possessing the form will be able to use the existing videophones upon arrival.

Applications for the I-68 Form will NOT be accepted via the internet or by mail. Individuals and families previously issued I-68 forms will be notified, by mail, of the new procedures. We'll keep you posted.


Previous post 9-11 info:

Prior to 9-11, recreational boaters had three Great Lakes cross-border
government programs with which to be concerned. Two of those three programs were voluntary. The third was required by law for certain size vessels.

The purpose of these programs was to help ease the burden of reporting
requirements and help facilitate cross-border transits for Great Lakes
recreational boaters. Two of these programs were conducted by the U. S.
government while the other was conducted by the Canadian government. If
boaters chose not to participate in the two voluntary programs, they were required to appear at a designated port-of-entry to report IAW established procedures.

The U. S. programs are:

I.N.S.: The Outlying Area Reporting Station (OARS) program, more commonly known as the I-68 program.

Customs: User fee decal program (for boats 30+ feet in length). Also used for aircraft & commercial vehicles.

The Canadian program is:

Canada Customs (now Canadian Border Services Agency): CANPASS - Private Boats program.

Summaries of each program are as follows:


I.N.S. I-68 OARS:

The Outlying Area Reporting Station (OARS) program, more commonly known as the I-68 program. The Outlying Area Reporting Station (OARS) has been developed as an innovative alternative to the Canadian Border Boat Landing Program or, as it is commonly known, the I-68 program (seasonal permit). The I-68 program allows certain persons who enter the United States by small boat to be inspected once per year, and thereafter enter from time to time for recreational purposes without further inspection. Boaters who choose not to obtain Form I-68 must report in person for inspection at a Port-of-Entry (POE) upon each entry to the United States.

The purpose of OARS is to provide a user-friendly, automated inspection service to enhance service to the boating community. The system is free, convenient, and easy to use. The OARS program uses videophones, typically located at public marinas, which boaters may use to report to I.N.S.. OARS is not a replacement for traditional physical inspections. Coupled with random compliance checks and use in appropriate low-risk locations, it is an effective means of enforcing immigration laws while providing convenience to the traveler. By the end of the 1999 boating season, I.N.S. had 37 OARS units deployed. This form has a fee of $16 per person, with a maximum amount payable by a family of $32.

See the Government Links for I-68 information.

User fee decal program

Customs: (for boats 30+ feet in length). The Consolidated Omnibus Reconciliation Act of 1985 authorizes the U.S. Customs Service to collect fees on incoming commercial vehicles, private aircraft, and private vessels. You are required to pay the fee if you operate a private vessel that is 30 feet or more in length that enters the United States. For 2002, the costs of the U.S. Customs User Fee Decal Program are: Private Vessel Decal (30 feet or more in length) $25.00(U.S.) Per calendar year.

See the Government Links for U.S. travel and customs information.

Canada Customs (now Canadian Border Services Agency): CANPASS - Private Boats program.

The CANPASS - Private Boats program is one of the results of the Canada-United States of America Accord on Our Shared Border. The Accord sets out initiatives to promote trade, tourism, and travel between the two countries. Revenue Canada and Citizenship and Immigration Canada are co-operating in this program to streamline customs and immigration clearance for low-risk travelers.

Travelers on a Canadian or U.S. pleasure craft have to use a telephone reporting system to get permission from a customs or immigration officer to enter Canada. However, there are different benefits for CANPASS permit holders and travelers without CANPASS permits.

As a CANPASS permit holder, you can: report your estimated arrival time by calling 1-888-CANPASS up to four hours before arriving in Canada; and arrive at any approved public marina or dock in Canada as long as marinas and docks are located within 100 km of a customs office. If you don't have a CANPASS permit, you have to report by telephone when you arrive at a designated reporting station in Canada using the 1-888-CANPASS number.

See the Government Links for more information.


Since 9-11, the I-68 Program and the CANPASS program have been suspended.

ALL recreational boaters landing either in the U. S. or Canada must now personally report to an I.N.S./Customs inspector at designated POEs. On the U. S. side of the Great Lakes, I have been told that the I.N.S. video phones have been turned off (some were turned off long ago for disuse and inconvenient locations). I.N.S. is currently drafting a directive, providing field guidance to its officers re: suspension of the I-68. I was told by the Cleveland I.N.S. office that they expect to see it on the street in approx. 2 months. The I.N.S.' national web site, however, still provides pre 9-11 I-68 info. I've alerted them to this fact.

The U. S. Customs user fee decal is still required because it's merely a user fee rather than part of a "reporting" procedure. If a U. S. boater owns a 30+ foot boat but never "lands" in Canada and then returns, that individual is not required to have a decal on the vessel. On the Canadian side of the Great Lakes, Canada simply changed their Customs Act.

A. Boaters MUST now personally check in to Canadian Customs - no longer by phone!

B. There will be designated Customs Offices that they must report to - no longer phoning in that you have arrived!

C. There will be SPECIFIC hours of operation - probably "normal business hours" - they are not sure right now; same applies to weekends and holidays - they are not sure.

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