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Old 02-04-2011, 06:55   #1
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US Customs Clearance

I could not find this topic and it probably because it is so simple.
This is my first year in the Bahamas and am heading back to the Chesapeake to put my boat up for the summer.
When coming back to the US what has to be done to clear customs?
I think I call an 800 # but not sure.
I applied for this DTOPS thing but it was sent to my house and I have no information of it.
I think I will enter Florida but may head farther north.
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Old 02-04-2011, 07:25   #2
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Re: Customs

Customs & Border Protection (Customs & Immigration) have a "what to know" web site at this link CBP Know Before You Go also see Pleasure Boat Reporting Requirements - CBP.gov

If you ordered the customs decal before you left but didn't receive it in time, at least get someone to send you the number. When you call the 800 number it will be easier.

The 800 number varies with the geographic area to which you return. CBP has a web site entry ports at this link Ports of Entry Locator

Getting the requirements straight from CBP is better than second hand information from those of us that have done it before.

Every year, things seem to be a little different as the Department of Homeland Security evolves.

George


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Old 02-04-2011, 07:30   #3
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Re: Customs

Yeah, call customs. If you have both your custom's tax decal and local boater's option, they may clear you over the phone. Since, you are missing yours, they may ask you to report in person.

I didn't have my local boater's option when clearing last time, so had to walk over a mile to their office. I found it kind of ironic that the increased protocols are supposedly to help protect U.S. borders, but yet, they never come within a mile of my boat.
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Old 02-04-2011, 07:37   #4
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Re: Customs

I agree with the previous posts. Look at where you clear in carefully. Some large ports have 24 hour local clearing...many do not, and this may require a personal visit within 24 hrs. I have never been allowed to clear with just a phone call to USCG into Stuart FL. After submitting all yor data by phone and being given a clearence number, I have had to drive either to W Palm airport-35miles south, or to Ft. Pierce airport-35 miles north. Not an easy task if you don't readily have transportation.
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Old 02-04-2011, 08:06   #5
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Re: Customs

It is different every year. I have found it best to call late at night when all the calls are shifted to the Miami center. They are more likely to clear you at night. Two years ago we had a problem as when we called at the Bridge tunnel they told us to proceed to our destination (Baltimore) and then take the entiire crew to BWI airport to check in with Homeland Security. We luckily had a car in Baltimore and so we immediately drove to the airport. Unfrotunately when we got there, no one knew how to process us. It took 2 hours for them to get their act together. Of course we dropped all the terrorists off as we passed the Potomic. Last year we called in and they took our information over the phone - go figure!
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Old 02-04-2011, 08:53   #6
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Re: Customs

Quote:
Originally Posted by Thanna5 View Post
I agree with the previous posts. Look at where you clear in carefully. Some large ports have 24 hour local clearing...many do not, and this may require a personal visit within 24 hrs. I have never been allowed to clear with just a phone call to USCG into Stuart FL. After submitting all yor data by phone and being given a clearence number, I have had to drive either to W Palm airport-35miles south, or to Ft. Pierce airport-35 miles north. Not an easy task if you don't readily have transportation.
Excellent point. One of the reasons I chose not to use Indiantown as I previously had.
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Old 02-04-2011, 09:13   #7
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Re: Customs

Quote:
Originally Posted by speciald@ocens. View Post
It is different every year. I have found it best to call late at night when all the calls are shifted to the Miami center. They are more likely to clear you at night. Two years ago we had a problem as when we called at the Bridge tunnel they told us to proceed to our destination (Baltimore) and then take the entiire crew to BWI airport to check in with Homeland Security. We luckily had a car in Baltimore and so we immediately drove to the airport. Unfrotunately when we got there, no one knew how to process us. It took 2 hours for them to get their act together. Of course we dropped all the terrorists off as we passed the Potomic. Last year we called in and they took our information over the phone - go figure!
on customs in general all over the world when appearing in person,11h30 is a great time to be there,lunch starts at 12h00.................nobody likes being late for lunch.....
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Old 02-04-2011, 11:41   #8
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Re: US Customs Clearance

For the US East Coast there seem to be different protocols for Florida and everywhere else. In Florida, you will almost certainly be told to report in person. North of Florida, my Experience (Charleston, Beaufort, Norfolk) has been that CBP comes to you on your boat and checks you in.

I don't clear Customs in Florida unless I have to.
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Old 02-04-2011, 12:38   #9
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Re: US Customs Clearance

CBP just like the USCG has Districts and each District has different ways of complying with the check-in procedures. So you can expect to find sometimes very different requirements all within the general requirements outlined in the webpages for CBP.
- - Additionally, as you go further north each District is less paranoid about you and your arrival. Miami is the worst as they seem to always get unannounced boats full of Cubans and/or Haitians arriving and finding out about it from the newspapers and TV News. So there a tendency on their part to make the procedures more onerous and stricter than the Districts where such things do not happen. And it gets even worse when a District gets a new bossman/leader who thinks he and his minions must strictly follow every letter, comma and period in the regulations.
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