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Old 10-10-2016, 00:22   #1
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Does Customs Check Engines When Coming Into USA Waters?

Diesel outboards haven't been available in the USA for a few years because of tightened emissions standards from the EPA.

But does a sailboat (equipped with a non-USA-compliant diesel outboard) that's built in another country get its engine checked by customs when being sailed or shipped into Floridian waters? Assuming the boat is being kept in the US by an American citizen, I mean.

Florida has no emissions testing for any vehicles at all, and it's a huge international hub for cruising craft, so I'm not sure I see the practicality of some customs agent trying to check every single engine on every single USA-registered boat that gets sailed or shipped into Florida.
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Old 10-10-2016, 01:18   #2
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Re: Does Customs Check Engines When Coming Into USA Waters?

Nic, can you clarify your question or intention more? Sailing versus shipping a boat into the US are two totally different things.

If you ship your boat in then it will need to clear Customs and most likely they will ask to see your EPA compliance papers before releasing it to you.

However, if you ship it to, say Bahamas or Canada, and then just sail it into the USA then that's another matter. Reporting requirements will be easier if you enroll in the Trusted Traveler Program then followed by enrolling in the Small Vessel Reporting System (SVRS).
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Old 10-10-2016, 01:29   #3
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Re: Does Customs Check Engines When Coming Into USA Waters?

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Originally Posted by nicholastanguma View Post
Diesel outboards haven't been available in the USA for a few years because of tightened emissions standards from the EPA.

But does a sailboat (equipped with a non-USA-compliant diesel outboard) that's built in another country get its engine checked by customs when being sailed or shipped into Floridian waters? Assuming the boat is being kept in the US by an American citizen, I mean.

Florida has no emissions testing for any vehicles at all, and it's a huge international hub for cruising craft, so I'm not sure I see the practicality of some customs agent trying to check every single engine on every single USA-registered boat that gets sailed or shipped into Florida.
Legally, you aren't allowed and even if they find it 5-10yrs later, they are legally allowed to confiscate it (I recently read a story where they impounded and destroyed antique cars that were imported in violation of EPA rules).

2 stroke outboards are a good parallel and I think it depends how it comes into the country. People do go overseas buy a 2 stroke for the dingy and when they return, they just don't say anything. Typically, I think they are getting away with it as there is no trigger for the authorities to notice.

If you take your boat that is already imported to the USA overseas and change out the engine and then return, you can lie and probably get away with it as they are unlikely to come out and check the engine unless you give them a reason to question it.

But if you buy a boat overseas with a diesel outboard, you need to import it and that means you need to fill out forms and document everything. There's a good chance they catch that the motor isn't legit.

One issue with flying under the radar is if you are caught, the cost of a motor probably exceeds the duty free allowance by a good margin, so you could run afoul of other legal issues.
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Old 10-10-2016, 01:43   #4
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Re: Does Customs Check Engines When Coming Into USA Waters?

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Nic, can you clarify your question or intention more? Sailing versus shipping a boat into the US are two totally different things.


Yes: my intention is to find some way to get the diesel outboard I want without running afoul of the law; or at least to do it grey market rather than outright black market. I've been doing the custom and vintage motorcycle and 4x4 game in the USA for many years, so am veeeeeeery familiar with all the nuances of American emissions compliance. There are a few ways to legally get engines for those kinds of vehicles, but doing so requires strict attention to the details if one wants to be truly legal.

I'm searching for the same for my boat, or at least the "least-illegal" comparison.
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Old 10-10-2016, 03:00   #5
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Re: Does Customs Check Engines When Coming Into USA Waters?

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Originally Posted by nicholastanguma View Post
Yes: my intention is to find some way to get the diesel outboard I want without running afoul of the law; or at least to do it grey market rather than outright black market. I've been doing the custom and vintage motorcycle and 4x4 game in the USA for many years, so am veeeeeeery familiar with all the nuances of American emissions compliance. There are a few ways to legally get engines for those kinds of vehicles, but doing so requires strict attention to the details if one wants to be truly legal.

I'm searching for the same for my boat, or at least the "least-illegal" comparison.
If you want to be legal, you could always buy a used one in the USA and have it rebuilt to like new standards. That would be the "least-illegal" option since it would be legal.

Even if you ship to Canada and then cruise it over, you still need to import it and clear in with customs and immigration.
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Old 10-10-2016, 04:00   #6
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Re: Does Customs Check Engines When Coming Into USA Waters?

Honestly Nic why are you so concerned about a small outboard? If shipping, then pull it off the boat, disassemble into a dozen or more pieces, then send it (separately) to the US, importing it as engine parts. Nothing illegal about doing that. It's what you do once you are in the US that matters. But really, at that point what's the risk? If you can't handle risk then do everything by the book.
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Old 10-10-2016, 04:09   #7
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Re: Does Customs Check Engines When Coming Into USA Waters?

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Originally Posted by makobuilders View Post
Honestly Nic why are you so concerned about a small outboard? If shipping, then pull it off the boat, disassemble into a dozen or more pieces, then send it (separately) to the US, importing it as engine parts.

Thanks for the tip! I'm looking into doing something like this right now.

I really wish the USA had brand new mechanically injected diesel outboards in our market. I'm just not a fan of the idea of storing large quantities of gasoline on board when at sea, and besides that, diesel engines make such superior fuel economy.
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Old 10-10-2016, 06:15   #8
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Re: Does Customs Check Engines When Coming Into USA Waters?

Just paint the cover and re-decal it so it doesn't say "DIESEL" all over it.

FWIW, I always paint my dinghy engines.... even brand-new legal ones. Usually with black or gray primer. Dinghy docks are prime hunting grounds for thieves, and making the motor look like a beater will discourage theft. I have even returned to find my unlocked brand new motor/dinghy still there when others next to it were stolen!
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Old 10-10-2016, 06:16   #9
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Re: Does Customs Check Engines When Coming Into USA Waters?

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Originally Posted by nicholastanguma View Post
I really wish the USA had brand new mechanically injected diesel outboards in our market. I'm just not a fan of the idea of storing large quantities of gasoline on board when at sea, and besides that, diesel engines make such superior fuel economy.

But in the meantime... diesel inboards are everywhere. Why not take that course?

-Chris
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Old 10-10-2016, 06:25   #10
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Re: Does Customs Check Engines When Coming Into USA Waters?

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I really wish the USA had brand new mechanically injected diesel outboards in our market.
From my research it appears that no diesels can meet T3 standards unless they are electronically controlled.

Quote:
Originally Posted by capngeo View Post
FWIW, I always paint my dinghy engines.... even brand-new legal ones. Usually with black or gray primer. Dinghy docks are prime hunting grounds for thieves, and making the motor look like a beater will discourage theft.!
Good idea! A shame to ruin a pretty looking engine, but theft is a huge problem for sure.
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Old 10-10-2016, 07:34   #11
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Re: Does Customs Check Engines When Coming Into USA Waters?

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But in the meantime... diesel inboards are everywhere. Why not take that course?

-Chris

The boat is a harryproa. Simply too small, and with no inboard-friendly hull shapes anyway--both hulls tapered to sharp edges fore and aft.
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Old 10-10-2016, 08:48   #12
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Re: Does Customs Check Engines When Coming Into USA Waters?

They are outboards and in my opinion not part of the boat, not that my opinion means anything. We have a term in Aviation and usually something that is easily removable by simple means, can sometimes not be consider as part of the airplane. An Ipad on the control Yolk for example. If the mount is riveted on, its part of the airplane, attached by a clamp its not.
I'd remove them and not bring up engines, maybe if asked say I was going to get some, someday?
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Old 10-10-2016, 09:05   #13
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Re: Does Customs Check Engines When Coming Into USA Waters?

There are Yanmar based outboard diesels that are epa compliant and I remember reading somewhere that there was a tier 3 compliant small outboard that was made by klaxon.
Klaxon Group Holdings contact them .
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Old 10-10-2016, 09:10   #14
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Re: Does Customs Check Engines When Coming Into USA Waters?

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There are Yanmar based outboard diesels that are epa compliant and I remember reading somewhere that there was a tier 3 compliant small outboard that was made by klaxon.
Klaxon Group Holdings contact them .

Yanmar diesels haven't been compliant since 2012.


Klaxon FHD diesels aren't allowed to be RESOLD in America anymore. The American importer for Klaxon had all his stock confiscated by the EPA in 2013, if I remember correctly. Klaxon HQ in Australia has indicated I'm allowed to purchase one directly from them, however, since I won't be reselling. I'm doing some research right now on whether this is true or not.
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Old 10-10-2016, 11:03   #15
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Re: Does Customs Check Engines When Coming Into USA Waters?

Don't break or bend the law in the USA. The chances of getting caught may be small but the punishment is draconian. It's just not worth it.
If you need an outboard, buy a legal four stroke and sleep easy.
Good luck
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