by Frank Jennings, USCG
The I-68 Program is available to both U. S. and Canadian citizens. The following is an example of how the program would work for a U. S. boater planning a trip from Erie, PA.
The Erie, PA, boater going to Canada for the weekend will have to report/appear before a Canadian Customs officer for inspection upon arrival at a Canadian Port-Of-Entry. The boater's vessel must also be in compliance with a variety of Canadian and provincial laws. Refer to the Government Index for Office of Boating Safety. Check out the environmental laws as well as boats, boating operators, VHF radios, drinking and boating, etc.
Now, in order to properly return and re-enter the U. S., the Erie boater has two options with regards to INS reporting requirements.
Report/appear before an INS (Internal Naturalization Service) inspector upon arrival at a designated Port-Of-Entry. In this case, the boater will have to contact INS via the Port Director at Erie (814-833-1355) to announce their arrival OR use one of the available OARS videophones. If instructed to do so, they must then wait for an INS inspector to come down to the dock. The boater or his/her passengers cannot go anywhere until meeting with the inspector. If the boater is reporting outside of the hours of 8:00 AM -4:30 PM or on a weekend or holiday, the boater may be liable for overtime charges associated with the INS inspection. Any boater, not participating in the I-68 Program, will have to undergo this process each time they return/come from Canada to enter the U. S.
The boater, whether U. S. or Canadian, holds a valid I-68 (revision date of January 31, 2002). Every family member is listed on the form. Any guests on board have their own. The boater does not have to call INS to report. Appearing, in person, to apply for the revised Form I-68 program; being fingerprinted and photographed, satisfies the initial INS inspection requirement. They are not required to report to an INS inspector on subsequent returns/re-entries to the U. S. However, there may come a time when the INS still wants to inspect the boater and the vessel, regardless of participation in the I-68 Program.
If a boater makes many trips back and forth between Canada and the U. S. each calendar year, the I-68 Program may be the most convenient method of INS reporting. If a boater only makes one trip, the cost of the I-68 may not justify the convenience.
One more important note. Despite the boater satisfying the INS reporting requirements, they're still required to report in with U. S. Customs by phone or in person.
According to U. S. Customs requirements, "When a yacht or any other type of pleasure boat arrives in the United States, the first place it docks must be at a Customs port or other place where Customs service is available. For the location of reporting stations, contact the Customs port director in the area where you will be cruising, or any of the POEs." These can be found on the web at: http://www.customs.ustreas.gov/travel/travel.htm U. S. Customs information re: pleasure boaters entering the United States can be found on the web at: http://www.customs.ustreas.gov/travel/travel.htm
Additional reporting and entry requirements may be obtained from the U.S. Customs Service, Office of Field Operations (Attn: Passenger Operations Team), Washington, DC 20229. For additional information on legal requirements, contact the U.S. Customs Service, Office of Regulations and Rulings (Attn: Entry Procedures and Carriers Branch), Washington, DC 20229.
Recreational Boating Specialist
9th Coast Guard District
Office of Law Enforcement & Intelligence
Cleveland, OH 44199
PHONE: (216) 902-6095
Fax: (216) 902-6098