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Old 06-02-2020, 12:11   #1
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Leave US, Cruise for a Bit, Return- Customs?

This is a question that has been on my mind for a bit...
If I head offshore...head out 100 miles or so and then turn around and return in a few days after bobbing around out there, why am I not required to clear customs? How does customs know I have not been to another country?
In an aircraft, I am required to have a pre-arranged clearance and transponder code in order to return.
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Old 06-02-2020, 12:22   #2
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Re: Leave US, Cruise for a Bit, Return- Customs?

You can sail around the world if you want, if you did not land at another country, or exchange goods or people with another boat, you are not required to check in in any way on your return. No immigrations, no customs.
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Old 06-02-2020, 12:27   #3
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Re: Leave US, Cruise for a Bit, Return- Customs?

In an aircraft, you aren't going to be able to "bob around" out there for a couple of days - also, you have to pass through an ADIZ to get back in, so you need clearance and a transponder code. Neither of these apply to boats.
Also (not sure if this is your concern) when you do come back from "out there", all they care about is the last place you were at land - if that's the USA, then they have no interest (unless they think you're lying, in which case they might investigate anyway)


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Old 06-02-2020, 12:46   #4
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Re: Leave US, Cruise for a Bit, Return- Customs?

Then again, if your bobbing around is in a 2,000 HP cigarette boat, and you did happen to pull up beside a small Central American freighter while you were 100 miles off shore, say hello to those totally humorless guys from the USCG before you get even close to the US.
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Old 07-02-2020, 10:06   #5
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Re: Leave US, Cruise for a Bit, Return- Customs?

Quote:
Originally Posted by tkeithlu View Post
Then again, if your bobbing around is in a 2,000 HP cigarette boat, and you did happen to pull up beside a small Central American freighter while you were 100 miles off shore, say hello to those totally humorless guys from the USCG before you get even close to the US.
If they can catch you. But then you can't outrun the heliopters.

Anyway, wouldn't this fall into the category of "exchange goods or people"?
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Old 07-02-2020, 11:33   #6
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Re: Leave US, Cruise for a Bit, Return- Customs?

Similar question: Any check-in requirement for an Hawaii to Alaska sail? Boat is OZ registered with proper Hawaii check in.
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Old 07-02-2020, 11:37   #7
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Re: Leave US, Cruise for a Bit, Return- Customs?

From what I have seen near San Diego, the Coast Guard is very busy, and there is a reasonably likelihood of getting stopped or at least having some official eyeballs on your boat within 50 miles of the coast. So it might depend on what ports you are around.
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Old 07-02-2020, 11:38   #8
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Re: Leave US, Cruise for a Bit, Return- Customs?

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Similar question: Any check-in requirement for an Hawaii to Alaska sail? Boat is OZ registered with proper Hawaii check in.
If the boat was US flagged, the answer is NO. Hawaii to mainland, no formalities needed.

With a foreign flagged boat you are under a US cruising permit, so need to follow those rules regarding checkin as you move around the USA. If you don't know them, be sure you learn them, preferably from an authoritative source.
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Old 07-02-2020, 15:48   #9
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Re: Leave US, Cruise for a Bit, Return- Customs?

Quote:
Originally Posted by tkeithlu View Post
Then again, if your bobbing around is in a 2,000 HP cigarette boat, and you did happen to pull up beside a small Central American freighter while you were 100 miles off shore, say hello to those totally humorless guys from the USCG before you get even close to the US.

I kinda sorta did this once.

Crossing from Bimini to the states and met half way with a buddy in a go fast boat who was doing the same run. 25 miles out there we floated for an hour chatting on a calm day in the middle between the US and Bahamas.

Soon after departing we were circled and “checked” via the radio by a coast guard helicopter. How many people, where are you going / coming from, so on.

My buddy was boarded by marine patrol once closer to miami and they put him through hell.
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Old 08-02-2020, 09:33   #10
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Re: Leave US, Cruise for a Bit, Return- Customs?

I have seen the surveillance balloons out in the Gulf Stream.
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Old 08-02-2020, 11:15   #11
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Re: Leave US, Cruise for a Bit, Return- Customs?

[QUOTE=skybolter;3069282]This is a question that has been on my mind for a bit...
If I head offshore...head out 100 miles or so and then turn around and return in a few days after bobbing around out there, why am I not required to clear customs? How does customs know I have not been to another country?
In an aircraft, I am required to have a pre-arranged clearance and transponder code in order to return.[/QUOT.

You are playing with fire. When sailing out of territorial waters , then returning ......Without notifying authorities

When you force the authorities to track you , then to dispatch a patrol boat to investigate .... Your vessel will be met by aggressive officials
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Old 10-02-2020, 09:48   #12
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Re: Leave US, Cruise for a Bit, Return- Customs?

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Originally Posted by billknny View Post
If the boat was US flagged, the answer is NO. Hawaii to mainland, no formalities needed.

With a foreign flagged boat you are under a US cruising permit, so need to follow those rules regarding checkin as you move around the USA. If you don't know them, be sure you learn them, preferably from an authoritative source.
Good info, thanks
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Old 24-02-2020, 13:36   #13
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Re: Leave US, Cruise for a Bit, Return- Customs?

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You are playing with fire. When sailing out of territorial waters , then returning ......Without notifying authorities

When you force the authorities to track you , then to dispatch a patrol boat to investigate .... Your vessel will be met by aggressive officials
Nonsense!

SLUG, you do not know of what you speak--even a little.

Hundreds, thousands, of boats EVERY DAY leave US territorial waters (12 miles off shore) to go fishing both recreationally and professionally, and return without a thought of checking in to customs.

I sail over a hundred miles offshore headed from the Northeast US to Florida. I do not need to check in with anyone when I arrive, and nobody is going to "dispatch a patrol boat" to intercept me when I arrive.

Sail 2000+ miles from San Francisco to Hawaii, NO check in needed. If you call the local customs office the first question will be, "What was your last port of call?" and if you name another US port, they will want to know why you are wasting their time.

The only exception I know of in sailing from one US port to another is if you leave the US Virgin Islands, you need to check in at Customs when you arrive at any other US port because the USVI have special duty rules. I am sure there are a few others in other outlying US territories I haven't run into yet.
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