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Old 12-08-2013, 19:39   #1
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US Customs Issue

So, I've got a small issue with US Customs. Well, I don't have the issue, my boat does. It seems my vessel has been red flagged by Customs due to the previous owner not bothering to clear Customs when he returned from the Bahamas to the States. I've had her about a year now, and every time Customs is at the marina I'm docked at, they pay my boat a visit and inspect her. I was told it was because of the PO not clearing customs, once they found out about it they went to the boat and found alcohol and plants on board that had not been declared. Nothing illegal, but just not declaring them. My question is there anything I can do to get them to pull the red flag off my boat? I mean, I've got nothing to hide, but its getting somewhat annoying and when I go to sell her, that's going to drive people away.
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Old 12-08-2013, 19:46   #2
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Re: US Customs Issue

US Customs data banks got a very resilient memory. There's really nothing you can do! (They don't know how to delete old data files.)

Mauritz
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Old 12-08-2013, 19:48   #3
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pirate Re: US Customs Issue

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kevin84 View Post
So, I've got a small issue with US Customs. Well, I don't have the issue, my boat does. It seems my vessel has been red flagged by Customs due to the previous owner not bothering to clear Customs when he returned from the Bahamas to the States. I've had her about a year now, and every time Customs is at the marina I'm docked at, they pay my boat a visit and inspect her. I was told it was because of the PO not clearing customs, once they found out about it they went to the boat and found alcohol and plants on board that had not been declared. Nothing illegal, but just not declaring them. My question is there anything I can do to get them to pull the red flag off my boat? I mean, I've got nothing to hide, but its getting somewhat annoying and when I go to sell her, that's going to drive people away.
Is she.. I think you call it CG Registered.. in your name... maybe that'll take the flag away if not... I dunno... I've thought the half dozen + times I've been in and out of the States would qualify me for at least a smile and "Welcome to the US"... or even just "have a nice day.."... must be something in the training manual...
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Old 13-08-2013, 07:10   #4
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If your documented Change your boat name and hailing port that might slow it down. It may take some time to reconnect the dots.
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Old 13-08-2013, 07:55   #5
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Re: US Customs Issue

Many criminals use third persons to register their cars and boats to avoid law enforcement. If you boat is truly on a "Red Flag", this could be the reason for it.

On the other hand... US Customs is way to busy to be worried about small amounts of plants and liquor and I would guess there is more to the story.

I also wonder why US Customs would be boarding a berthed vessel in its home marina, which is not common unless they have a search warrant or probable cause.

I would suggest that you contact US Customs directly and find out exactly what list your boat is on and why is it subject to frequent inspections.

Then ask them if there is a way to have the vessel removed from the list, since the previous owner is out of the picture.

Here is the link to the Charleston Office of US Customs:

Service Port - Charleston
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Old 13-08-2013, 10:08   #6
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Re: US Customs Issue

I have spoken to Customs. That's the answer they gave me. And yes, the boat has been registered in my name. My fiancÚ has also talked to them and was told that it's because before we got her, the PO was apparently renting the boat out and had a lot of different people constantly on and off the boat.
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Old 13-08-2013, 12:41   #7
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Re: US Customs Issue

What you are describing, although I suspect there is more to this is than you are telling, is illegal and harassment.

How are they boarding your boat while it is tied to your home dock? Even the USCG can not do that unless they followed you into the dock or some other special circumstance exists.

You are not giving all the answers here... If you told them that the vessel has been sold to you and you have no prior connections to the previous owner why would they do this? Have you had a run in with US Customs?
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Old 13-08-2013, 14:35   #8
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Re: US Customs Issue

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Originally Posted by jeremiason View Post
What you are describing, although I suspect there is more to this is than you are telling, is illegal and harassment.

How are they boarding your boat while it is tied to your home dock? Even the USCG can not do that unless they followed you into the dock or some other special circumstance exists.

You are not giving all the answers here... If you told them that the vessel has been sold to you and you have no prior connections to the previous owner why would they do this? Have you had a run in with US Customs?
Look, all I know is what they're telling me. No, I've never had a UN in with customs. Only time I've ever left the country was 10yrs ago and declared everything I had with me when I got back. And btw, if this is "not all the answers" it's because that's all I've been told.
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Old 13-08-2013, 15:00   #9
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Re: US Customs Issue

You say it is registered but is it documented?
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Old 13-08-2013, 15:15   #10
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Re: US Customs Issue

Are you certain that it is not ICE officers? The would regularly (once every 3 months) do a sweep of the marina I was living in, in San Diego. They would check papers of all hispanic workers looking for illegals (oops, sorry, undocumented) workers.
They came by RIB, orange and loaded with firearms, comm's, bullet proof vests and attitude. Living aboard I got to know them and they always asked permission to board, polite, but businesslike. They even accepted ice tea after we got to know each other! Generally, good guys but I wouldn't want to mess with them. It was hilarious to see the workers without documentation head for the gate in a mob only to be met by a couple of these guys waiting for them in the parking lot with their ICE van. They were all back across the border within a week or two and working on the same boats they had left.
It taught me that this country is NOT serious about immigration. Basically, both sides were good guys and women, one trying to do an impossible job and the others trying to pick up a few yankee dollars. As an immigrant myself (legal), I have a lot of sympathy for both sides. Phil
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Old 13-08-2013, 18:58   #11
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Re: US Customs Issue

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You say it is registered but is it documented?
No. The boat is state registered with appropriate markings, not USCG documented.
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Old 13-08-2013, 19:10   #12
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Re: US Customs Issue

People who have never been in the gunsights of US Homeless Insecurity have no idea what it is like when they have a target on your back. Good luck getting them to give you a straight answer. My only advice is that whatever they have told you is absolutely NOT the reason they have you red flagged. If you keep your nose clean and go through every inspection clean then over time it will get easier. You don't need to do anything to DESERVE the treatment but you most certainly will need to ENDURE it for a long time once they start on you.
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Old 13-08-2013, 19:18   #13
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Re: US Customs Issue

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No. The boat is state registered with appropriate markings, not USCG documented.
Well document it and change the name while you are at it and I'll bet all your troubles go away.

Wait, does the boat still have the old name? Tell me it doesn't.
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Old 13-08-2013, 19:30   #14
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Re: US Customs Issue

You need leverage.

Head over to your local congress persons office and talk to them. The goal is to have you senator's office send a letter to the (insert correct agency's name here) asking what is going on.

It is often amazing how an official letter from a member of congress will cause things to stop happening. All without any admission of error or mistake.

Of course do bring documentation of your ownership and so on. How many inspections etc.

Senators and congressmen (and women) love to help out this way. Leads to votes and it is one of their more fun things to do.
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Old 13-08-2013, 20:10   #15
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Re: US Customs Issue

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You need leverage.

Head over to your local congress persons office and talk to them. The goal is to have you senator's office send a letter to the (insert correct agency's name here) asking what is going on.

It is often amazing how an official letter from a member of congress will cause things to stop happening. All without any admission of error or mistake.

Of course do bring documentation of your ownership and so on. How many inspections etc.

Senators and congressmen (and women) love to help out this way. Leads to votes and it is one of their more fun things to do.
And hand written, if readable, gets you to the top of the pile.

In a issue I had with a Fed. agency I called my congressman's office first.
Explained my issue. Received instructions on some magic words to use that only bureaucrats understand. Hand wrote the suggested letter, attn: Nice lady.
Problem went somewhere else, because I never heard about that particular issue again. The more specific info you have the better. Names, dates, times, etc...Include copies of any paperwork you may have too. Ask about forms. Government workers love forms.

"Dear Congressman/Senator I need help with________
.................................................. .......................
.................................................. ......................

Please help me resolve this issue with said Fed dept.

Best Regards,
Joe Taxpayer

Seems to simplistic to work, but in my case it only took approx. one week to get a issue resolved that had been a PITA for more than three years.

Don't hold your breath waiting on a apology.

Good Luck...
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