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Old 22-04-2019, 14:08   #1
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Difficulty reaching CBP by phone.

We entered the US at West Palm Beach a week ago and have experienced it very hard to reach the Custom and Border Protection by phone.
We are a foreign flag vessel that must report movements from port to port to an officer by phone. For this reporting we have a US SIM-Card in one of our phones.

This is my log so far.

16/4 Arriving to West Palm Beach from Cuba at 5 pm.
Tried to call above number.
Got to the menu with the lady telling me to choose nr. 4 as I am entering the US from a foreign port.
Menu repeats and repeats with an interval of some minutes.
Called 3 times. The same result.
Walked over to CBP office and an officer said it does not work at the moment. He wrote down that I had been there and told me my crew was good to go ashore.
Back at the boat I called again and I got through and an officer told me I had to fill in the CBP-ROAM. After filling in the app. we were ordered to go to the office to complete the entrance procedure. I and my crew walks over to the office and presented ourselves. The officer then asks why we are here !
20/4 Sailed up to Ft. Pierce and anchored south of Causeway Island at 6 pm.
Called CPB to report my movement. Again no answer just the menue going round and around. Tried for 25 minutes and gave up.
22/4 Tried to call CBP again choose nr. 3 and the ring signal kept on ringing
for more than 10 minutes. Was ready to give up when an officer answered and I could report my movement.
Is it normal for them to be so hard to reach ?
Anyone else here that's got the same experience ?

/Hans
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Old 22-04-2019, 14:19   #2
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Re: Difficulty reaching CBP by phone.

I'm from the US so this is not something I've had to do. However, it does sound about as efficient as other US government departments that I have dealt with.

I'd like to welcome you, and wish it wasn't such a hassle for you, as I enjoyed traveling without the hassles like that. At least we haven't put up a wall, have we?
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Old 22-04-2019, 14:26   #3
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Re: Difficulty reaching CBP by phone.

When we went down the west cost of the US we were given a list of CPB numbers to call. Most of them were out of date or didn't answer. I think on 7 or 8 stops we were able to report twice?
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Old 22-04-2019, 14:33   #4
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Re: Difficulty reaching CBP by phone.

It gets worse because each CBP region you go through have different regulations. Some districts don’t care for you to call in, some are quite strict. Maddening!

When I came into Massachusetts from Canada the number bounced it a office in Miami, Fl who told me to sit tight and then at 9am call a number in Bangor, Maine.

In short Im not supposed and I don’t think there is a consistent answer. But do try to do as they say and log your attempts.
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Old 23-04-2019, 11:52   #5
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Re: Difficulty reaching CBP by phone.

We entered Key West from Cuba. Called the required CBP number. The wait was your typical government wait. Got my entry number, was told I had 24 hours to report to the local CBP office will ALL of the crew and passports. We did that the next morning. When we arrived at the Key West CBP office and explained our arrival from Cuba I was made to squirm because I was an American citizen in Cuba without prior permission. The boat was foreign flagged, so it was OK, but my crew and I were not. $5,000 per crew member per day fine. We were there 1 month, Yikes!!

After eating a lot of humble pie I was given a warning and told a note was being placed in my file and don't do it again.

Per the cruising permit rules, when we moved the boat up to Ft Lauderdale I called CBP to inform them we had moved. The phone wait was again your typical government wait, but I did get through. When I informed the CBP officer of our move he responded, "why are you calling me? You have been cleared in, so no need to call us every time you move the boat". I told him I was just doing what the last CBP officer told me to do.

Go figure, I don't know the right answer. I guess it varies per area. I decided it was better to be safe and call in.
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Old 23-04-2019, 13:40   #6
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Re: Difficulty reaching CBP by phone.

Been cruising US waters since around 1996. Right on the cruising license it clearly states that we must call CPB every time we stop the boat. We had never experienced this rule being enforced until 2016 and it is extremely difficult to comply.

On entering NY we were told we did not have to check in again until Manhattan. We anchored at Nyack and were threatened with a $10k fine and vessel seizure for not calling in. When we told the officer that the last officer said we didn't have to, he responded Not my problem.

We called in and reported we are at Chesapeake Beach. The response dumbfounded us ... "No you're not, theres no such place". This has happened a few times.

Many of the phone numbers we were given were "Not in service".

Many phone numbers rang for 10 to 20 minutes if they were answered at all.

One fella was extremely rude, telling us we had called the wrong number. He eventually gave us the right number and when we called it .... it was the same guy !

We are guests in your country and try hard to follow the rules. We spend about 40k per year in your country but it seems you'd prefer we don't.

We had planned to do the inland river route south this year but as that is a much longer route and would mean much more contact with CBP. We've decided to blow through the east coast as fast as possible and get to the Bahamas and spend our retirement money there.

This is a real shame as we love the NY State Canal System and the ICW. For a couple of decades we have been treated like family by everyone we've met on the eastern seaboard. Sadly we have been treated like an annoyance and/or criminals by a CBP.

I have also been doing cross border deliveries for a couple of decades and have had many interactions including boardings by USCG. I wish to emphasize that our interactions with them have been a different matter altogether and found them to be professional, efficient, respectful, helpful and friendly. They are clearly a different species than CBP

I find it curious that my brother can cross the border in his motorhome and is free to do as he pleases for about 6 months at a time with no issues whatsoever.
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Old 23-04-2019, 14:17   #7
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Re: Difficulty reaching CBP by phone.

Similar baloney in trying to get our NEXUS cards.
After paying $100 each and a 200 mile round trip drive to get interviewed so they would be certain we weren't terrorists, we were denied.

We didn't have our ORIGINAL birth certificates, just copies. Additionally, our passports were due to expire soon, but we needed their physical presence at our interviews.
We were told to return to their office on another 200 mile round trip with our ORIGINAL birth certificates so they could physically see them and our renewed passports before they would even consider our applications. " NO EMAIL PHOTOS ! YOU MUST ARRIVE IN PERSON ! "
A week later, both of our new NEXUS cards arrived in the mail.
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Old 23-04-2019, 14:18   #8
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Re: Difficulty reaching CBP by phone.

Quote:
Originally Posted by boatpoker View Post
Been cruising US waters since around 1996. Right on the cruising license it clearly states that we must call CPB every time we stop the boat. We had never experienced this rule being enforced until 2016 and it is extremely difficult to comply.

On entering NY we were told we did not have to check in again until Manhattan. We anchored at Nyack and were threatened with a $10k fine and vessel seizure for not calling in. When we told the officer that the last officer said we didn't have to, he responded Not my problem.

We called in and reported we are at Chesapeake Beach. The response dumbfounded us ... "No you're not, theres no such place". This has happened a few times.

Many of the phone numbers we were given were "Not in service".

Many phone numbers rang for 10 to 20 minutes if they were answered at all.

One fella was extremely rude, telling us we had called the wrong number. He eventually gave us the right number and when we called it .... it was the same guy !

We are guests in your country and try hard to follow the rules. We spend about 40k per year in your country but it seems you'd prefer we don't.

We had planned to do the inland river route south this year but as that is a much longer route and would mean much more contact with CBP. We've decided to blow through the east coast as fast as possible and get to the Bahamas and spend our retirement money there.

This is a real shame as we love the NY State Canal System and the ICW. For a couple of decades we have been treated like family by everyone we've met on the eastern seaboard. Sadly we have been treated like an annoyance and/or criminals by a CBP.

I have also been doing cross border deliveries for a couple of decades and have had many interactions including boardings by USCG. I wish to emphasize that our interactions with them have been a different matter altogether and found them to be professional, efficient, respectful, helpful and friendly. They are clearly a different species than CBP

I find it curious that my brother can cross the border in his motorhome and is free to do as he pleases for about 6 months at a time with no issues whatsoever.

Another series of reasons my wallet will not frequent U.S. waters. Too arbitrary, meet too slack.
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Old 23-04-2019, 14:24   #9
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Re: Difficulty reaching CBP by phone.

Do you still need to report in at every stop if you have a cruising license?

I've never done that in all the years I've been visiting the US - just need one stop a year to pick up the cruising license. I even call in from the water mostly as I have a nexus (and before that the SVRS)
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Old 23-04-2019, 14:29   #10
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Re: Difficulty reaching CBP by phone.

Quote:
Originally Posted by alctel View Post
Do you still need to report in at every stop if you have a cruising license?
Yes. It says so right on your cruising license and has since 1964 (I looked it up once).
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Old 23-04-2019, 14:39   #11
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Re: Difficulty reaching CBP by phone.

hasse-
I would suggest you pick up a free smartphone app that is a call recorder. You can selectively record inbound or outbound or whatever calls with it. Here in the US, whenever someone says "That's no possible, no one would have said that" you can almost hear a pin drop when you tell them "Well, they did. Would you like to hear the recording?"
And yes, according to the FCC, who have the sole power to regulate radios in the US, a "smartphone" is a RADIO not a telephone, so wiretap laws and similar restrictions on recording telephone calls simply do not apply. RADIO transmissions may always be recorded.
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Old 23-04-2019, 16:21   #12
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Re: Difficulty reaching CBP by phone.

This might be off topic, but who told you or how do you know that a "Smartphone" is a radio not a telephone?
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Old 23-04-2019, 16:45   #13
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Re: Difficulty reaching CBP by phone.

This requirement to report is a real pain and a throw back to days before private cruisers. One person I know just logs that he tried to call and there was no answer. It's too bad foreign vessels have no power with the US Government but it really should be changed. People with motorhomes for example have no such requirement.
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Old 23-04-2019, 18:13   #14
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Re: Difficulty reaching CBP by phone.

Wow !

I am very disappointed in the officialdom nonsense that you all are going or have
been thru.

i am an American Citizen, born and raised, American Vet, volunteered and served in a foreign war, but this chaotic non organized B.S. from U.S. Customs goes along with the moronic bombast and no clue chaotic nonsense of the daily zoo that tumbles down from D.C,

If it were us, as other than U.S. Citizens and having a foreign registered vessel,
We would pass totally on the Good Ol USA, Land of the free, and sail to
the Bahamas, and keep on going to the BVI, and the rest of the Caribbean.

Our last re entry into my own country.

When we returned to the U.S.A after a great vacation in Costa Rica....great people , who were educated, and friendly, and happy, and helpful....zero problems with entry , or exit .

We land at LAX via Alaska Airlines, sat dead shut down and entombed in the airliner
sitting on the ramp. They would not let us go into the terminal to clear in. Finally an hour later a bus arrives and we go down air stairs and wind up in customs. This is about an hour after landing.

We had a meet and greet by exucar to meet us at LAX, at our scheduled 11:00 pm arrival time and drive us the the 60 plus miles to Dana Point . .

Now they have a couple of bus loads of us, and drop us off at C and I.
It is now after midnight .

We have carry on's only, and there is a batallion of dudes in red or gold jackets shouting at us as to which line to get into and pointing. Problem being none of this bunch could speak understandable yankee. Total confusion.

The line we have been rousted into is not moving. Instead of having a line or three for U.S. Citizens, our line has someone who has a problem, We are not moving.

!2;30 AM. B.S, with this, we have been waiting another 30 minutes in a line that is on frozen hold.

Another couple and Erica and I, duck under the tape and walk to another very short line. Some tall skinny jacket wearing no load foreign dude is yelling at me to use the kiosk,

WE ALREADY DID THAT ! "We are going to use this line, we are next ! ". As we walk toward the Customs officer , this jerk off, who was in charge is yelling, CLOSE THIS LINE DOWN ! Childish wimp cry baby.

We get to the Customs officer, explained what happened, and he has us cleared in , in very short order.

Now we are nearing 1.5 hours or more behind the time that we had made reservations with Execu Car. Erica bet me, that since it is about midnight plus 30 or 40, that our driver would not be there.

We have no transportation from Los Angeles Airport to South Orange County, Dana Point. How are we going to get to our home after the
long day of flying and having a major hassel entering my own country.

Lordy , we were saved, As we walked thru toward the baggage area, I spotted a well dressed gentleman with a sign with our names on it. Amen bothers and sisters, life is worth living again.

I even hugged the guy, and shook his hand. He took our rollers and we were
off to our waiting transportation. He got a Bloody good tip upon our arrival at home.

from that debacle, I never what to enter thru Los Angeles again. And I sure would not want to put up with the CBP stupidity that the Canuks and others have been thru.

To top it all off, as a couple hundred of us, waited in these non moving, lines.
the 20 alien directors were no longer busy, They were standing back and
laughing and clowning around.

Earth to those on high, maybe you can spend some of that 5 billion for a
wall that does not work, to organize the U.S Customs and Immigration dept, and hire personnel who have a brain, are respectful , professional , helpful and a possess a boat load of common sense. Yep, and born and raised here in the U.S.A., and can speak english

I am still P.O'd

So my Canadian Friends, perhaps a better idea is heading to Caribbean ports of call, and being welcomed. Beats the coon dog whumpas out of dealing with U.S Officials that do not have a clue.

Although, our LAX Customs agent was understanding, friendly and efficient. and we were cleared in very quickly. No problem with the Customs official. .

But, there was zero efficiency or thinking involved with our hour long wait on the ramp , a crammed bus, and then having lines mixed with U.S. Citizens, and others with fake green cards or foreign passports and dead stopped lines.

I know that our situation was not anywhere as incompetent as to what the
Canadians are going thru, but, it is extremely aggravating and unacceptable.

Out !
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Old 23-04-2019, 21:47   #15
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Re: Difficulty reaching CBP by phone.

As I said, the FCC. The Federal Communications Commission, which under the Communications Act of 1934(?) has the express right, given by Congress, to regulate all radio affairs.
They still do regulate the landline telephone system as well, as they did before deregulation and the breakup of the Bell System.

And according to their very clear reply, they said a TELEPHONE is a device that is directly wired into the landline (POTS) telephone system, which cannot function without a wired connection.

Any radio device which is "patched into" the landline system, is a RADIO. The same way that a home computer with a modem attached to it, is still a COMPUTER and not a TELEPHONE, even though the modem can bridge it into the separate landline telephone system.

The specific conversation was about "wiretap" laws, and they wen ton to explain that if no one was physically TAPPING A WIRE, those laws did not apply. And that in fact no "wire" or "telephone" laws applied to RADIOS.

A smartphone is really a computer, which digitizes your voice, sends it out over a variety of radios to another radio (in a cell phone site) where the second radio connects to a "bridge" device and ultimately transfers the information to the POTS (landline) system.

Thank of it this way. You have a marine SSB or VHF radio. There's no question that it is a RADIO. But when you place a radio call to the high seas telephone operator... your RADIO gets patched into the landline telephone system. That does not make your marine radio into a telephone!

FCC says it is the same thing. Your smartphone is a RADIO, connecting to more radios and computers, and eventually the data from them goes into the remains of the telephone system.

In fact,"Smartphone" was a trademarked term, and the early ones were sold, marketed, and billed distinctly from apparently identical devices that some manufacturers called by other names. Till the buzzword caught on.
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