Return Cruising Canada Thousand Island Cruising guide Lake Ontario Cruising guide Trent Severn Waterwat
Articles Canadian Marinas Rules & Reference Links Yacht Clubs Associations classified advertising Weather
USA import duties . I-68 Entry  .  Cruising Decal . Video Check In . Ports of Entry


October 2003 For the latest information check USA official site here.

Post 911 the wworld is different USA Customs and immigration reserves the right of admission to the judgment of the admitting immigration / customs officer.

U.S. and Canadian recreational boaters on the waters of the Great Lakes.

Each boat entering a U.S. dock or anchorage , must properly report-in to the closest international port-of-entry (POE) to the United States. Officials of the U.S. Government inspect all persons arriving. There are four separate inspections. Customs, Immigration, Public Health, and Agriculture. You may only talk to one official who does all four inspections or you may talk to more than one official.

Customs and INS POE "local rules": Both Customs and INS POEs have "local" rules, which are communicated through locally produced flyers and boater word-of-mouth communications. Neither Customs nor INS has a " Central Office" that can speak on the many Great Lakes POE "local" rules.

Roles of Customs and Immigration:

U.S. Customs Service: Customs concerns itself with "property" being brought into the U.S. and collecting the applicable duties. Everyone entering the U.S. must call Customs. Customs requires that all boats 30 feet and more display an annual $25 Vessel User Fee Decal.

U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS): INS concerns itself with "people" coming into the country. U.S. law requires that an INS officer must first inspect each and every person entering the U.S. To help U.S. and Canadian boaters entering the U.S. to avoid the hassle of docking and finding ground transportation to the nearest INS POE, INS created two alternatives for boaters: the Canadian Border Boat Landing Permit --- INS Form I-68, and the Outlying Area Reporting Stations (OARS) Videophone system.

I-68 Form for short U.S. cruises

All persons coming into the U.S. are subject to Immigration and Customs inspection. The U.S. government's I-68 (Canadian Border Boat Landing Permit) allows both Canadian and American people entering the U.S. on a boat to by-pass inspection. You must still "check in" by phone and everyone one board must have a valid I-68. Boats longer than 30 feet are not elligible but may get a U.S. customs decal. Customs or I.N.S. ports are becoming fewer and further between, so this is a considerable convenience.

Each person on board your boat, including children, must be registered and possess an I-68 form. All individuals not listed on the I-68 form must, upon landing, immediately proceed to the nearest port of entry to be personally inspected by a United States Immigration Inspector. Possession of an approved I-68 satisfies all reporting requirements of the U.S.I.N.S. (Immigration and Naturalization Service).

If you have a valid I-68 for each person on board meaning very person on board must have a valid I-68 in order to use this program. You may enter at any port but current regulations require that all vessels report their arrival into the United States. This report may be made by phone (or cell phone) to 1-800-827-2851 in the St. Lawrence River and Eastern Lake Ontario or 1-800-927-5015 in the Buffalo and Western Lake Ontario area. You may only use this form to visit the designated border area for up to 72 hours (3 days).

How to get an I-68 form:

You can order a copy of the I-68 at: U.S. A. I.N.S. Website, or you can call 1-800-870-3676 (from USA exchanges only).

To get the I-68 form, you have to present yourself, in person, to an I.N.S. (U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service) office. They "may" send you a renewal by mail the following year. It costs about $16 U.S. per person. Payment methods include money order, personal checks drawn on a U.S. bank or U.S. cash. Family I-68 Form: There is a maximum fee of $32 per family (all members are listed on one card). Note that family members can only use a family I-68 card while travelling with the person whose name appears on the card. If boating with others, they must either carry their own I-68 or check in to an I.N.S. location.

A Family is defined as: husband, wife, unmarried children under 21, and parents of husband or wife. Common-law families are not recognized.

Customs Vessel User Fee Decal 30-foot over vessels

This decal is required for all boats 30 or more feet in length that will be entering the U.S. from Canada. When you receive the decal, follow the instructions on where it must be displayed. Failure to have and display a valid User Fee Decal may severely slow down your re-entry to the U.S. When reporting-in, you will be asked for your decal number. If you dont have one, you will ultimately be buying one. If you return to the U.S. without a valid decal in some future year, it may result in your paying a fine as well. The Customs website offers a very informative document on this program.

U.S. Customs is required to collect fees on incoming private boats, private aircraft and commercial vehicles. To avoid numerous financial transactions, Customs instituted the User Fee Decal.

Private boats and private aircraft pay $25 per decal, commercial vehicles pay much more.

This decal covers only one calendar year; renewal by mail is easy.

Some Customs POE local rules require boats under 30 feet to purchase a decal when they are entering the country with goods subject to duty.

Getting Your First Decal:

Obtain a Vessel User Fee Decal Application Form CF-339-V and literature describing the program. Your options are as follows:

Via the Customs Internet website at
For the literature, select Arriving by Private Boat, Plane or Car. For the form, select Publications / Forms, then Downloadable Forms, and then select CF-339-V.

By Phone : Decal Program Administrator Inquires at (317) 298-1200, ext. 1245, Mon. thru Fri., 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. EST.

By Phone : U.S. Customs POE at a reporting-in telephone number shown in Exhibit A. Consider the pros and cons of traveling to the POE versus working through the Decal Program Administrator. Most POEs are at airports. Call first for directions, parking facilities, operating hours and acceptable manners of payment.

Buying From the Decal Program Administrator

Required Information: Boat owners name, address, telephone number, manufacturers name, boat name, year, and local registration numbers or if applicable the U.S. Coast Guard boat documentation number. If neither identification number is available, provide the hull identification number.

Payment Methods: Save time by paying by credit card (Visa, MasterCard or Discover) or Money Order drawn on a U.S. bank in U.S. funds. Checks must clear your bank, before decals are mailed. Funds drawn on a foreign bank in U.S. funds will not be accepted.

Sending your application and payment to the Decal Program Administrator:

Address for regular mail:

U.S. Customs Service
Decal Program Administrator
PO Box 382030
Pittsburgh, PA 15230-8030

Address for courier/expedited delivery:

U.S. Customs Service
Decal Program Administrator 382030
525 William Penn Highway
AIM 153-2630 (Must be part of address)
Pittsburgh, PA 15259-0001

The Decal Program Administrator sends the decals via U.S., First Class Mail to addresses within the U.S. If the decal is to be sent outside the U.S. or if you want courier/expedited delivery, call the Decal Inquires for more information.

Annual Renewal: Regardless of where you purchased your last decal, the Decal Program Administrator sends you a renewal form complete with last years information. Make any changes necessary. The payment methods are check or credit card.

U.S. Customs Duties for buying foreign vessels

U.S. Customs rules for buying foreign boats is about 1.5% duty on sailboats or inboard powerboats, 1% outboard boats, etc.



USA import duties . I-68 Entry  .  Cruising Decal . Video Check In . Ports of Entry