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Old 22-05-2024, 10:16   #1
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Regulation for skippering a U.S. flagged recreational vessel into the USA

There are various opinions floating around regarding the rules for entering the USA; and I do know that a documented commercial vessel requires a U.S. citizen as skipper.

In this case I'd be skippering a recreational sailboat with a state registration back into the USA. I've got my B1/B2 visa and have sailed my own boat into and out of the USA several times. I am not doing this trip for hire.

What I'm looking for is a specific reference to the rules; all I've found so far on this topic are statements with no supporting evidence (quite a lot of that, with vastly differing opinions). Perhaps someone would know which CFR might apply here?
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Old 22-05-2024, 10:35   #2
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Re: Regulation for skippering a U.S. flagged recreational vessel into the USA

I'll be following to see what pops up. I'm not aware of any requirements if you have no passengers other than verifiable permission to use the boat.
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Old 22-05-2024, 11:19   #3
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Re: Regulation for skippering a U.S. flagged recreational vessel into the USA

I am Canadian. We have more relaxed requirements than the citizens of some other countries. I don't require a Visa. Just a passport.

My boat was bought in US. State registered and I have crossed back and forth several times.
As long as everyone on board is eligible for entry and has their passport. Boat registry wasn't an issue. I was asked about it a few times. So having the boats documents including proof of ownership is required. If you don't own the boat. Letter of from owner with permission. Might be a good idea JIK.
They might ask to see them. I just said I hadn't gotten round to changing name or registry yet.

Just don't show up at the Port of Entry after it closes on a Monday Night. Monday night football is important to Americans. I got quite a lecture about its cultural significance.

Answer questions truthfully. Shouldn't be a problem. A lot of times its just a phone call sometimes they come and check. So don't do anything your not supposed to.

If you want the correct answer, Just call the Port of Entry ahead of time and ask if there is any particular requirements. The # used to be in sailing directions. Along with a list of requirements.
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Old 22-05-2024, 11:52   #4
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Re: Regulation for skippering a U.S. flagged recreational vessel into the USA

Quote:
Originally Posted by Zanshin View Post
There are various opinions floating around regarding the rules for entering the USA; and I do know that a documented commercial vessel requires a U.S. citizen as skipper.

In this case I'd be skippering a recreational sailboat with a state registration back into the USA. I've got my B1/B2 visa and have sailed my own boat into and out of the USA several times. I am not doing this trip for hire.

What I'm looking for is a specific reference to the rules; all I've found so far on this topic are statements with no supporting evidence (quite a lot of that, with vastly differing opinions). Perhaps someone would know which CFR might apply here?
I don't believe there's a CFR that applies; there's just an absence of any rules.

I would suggest bringing evidence of ownership -- the title if one has been issued, or a registration card if not. If you are not one of the owners then it would be prudent to carry a notarized statement authorizing you to use the boat worldwide. I don't think either of these things is necessarily officially required, but having them could prevent unnecessary delays.

That is based on my experience and that of my friends bringing boats across the MN/Ontario border either on a trailer or at Lake of the Woods or Crane Lake.
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Old 22-05-2024, 11:52   #5
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Re: Regulation for skippering a U.S. flagged recreational vessel into the USA

@Uricanejack - thanks for the answer, I wish I were Canadian. Do you have a reference to the sailing directions you mentioned which contain the requirements that I am looking for?

The vessel is Coast Guard documented, not just a state registration. All crew on board are U.S. citizens apart from myself, and I have a permission letter.
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Old 22-05-2024, 12:30   #6
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Re: Regulation for skippering a U.S. flagged recreational vessel into the USA

Perhaps one of your crew could be appointed by the owner as the "skipper for entry into the U.S." when the time comes? That would make the problem moot.
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Old 22-05-2024, 12:57   #7
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Re: Regulation for skippering a U.S. flagged recreational vessel into the USA

@psk125 - that is a good suggestion; but at present I'm the only one who can get put on the insurance papers as an experienced skipper so that workaround probably might not fly. I'm still somewhat optimistic but have been waiting a week without response from CBP and DHS - which prompted me to ask here. Navigating the CFRs to find the appropriate paragraph isn't a trivial task...
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Old 22-05-2024, 13:05   #8
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Re: Regulation for skippering a U.S. flagged recreational vessel into the USA

Quote:
Originally Posted by Zanshin View Post
There are various opinions floating around regarding the rules for entering the USA; and I do know that a documented commercial vessel requires a U.S. citizen as skipper.

In this case I'd be skippering a recreational sailboat with a state registration back into the USA. I've got my B1/B2 visa and have sailed my own boat into and out of the USA several times. I am not doing this trip for hire.

What I'm looking for is a specific reference to the rules; all I've found so far on this topic are statements with no supporting evidence (quite a lot of that, with vastly differing opinions). Perhaps someone would know which CFR might apply here?
I am Canadian. Canadians automatically enter the US under a B2. Most Canadians don't even know that. I have done what you describe on several occasions but with US Documented vessels and never had an issue or even a question about the situation.
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Old 22-05-2024, 13:24   #9
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Re: Regulation for skippering a U.S. flagged recreational vessel into the USA

@boatpoker - I am not Canadian, and this thread's question does not apply to Canadians; you enjoy a special relationship vis-a-vis the USA.
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Old 22-05-2024, 13:25   #10
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Re: Regulation for skippering a U.S. flagged recreational vessel into the USA

Quote:
Originally Posted by Zanshin View Post
@boatpoker - I am not Canadian, and this thread's question does not apply to Canadians; you enjoy a special relationship vis-a-vis the USA.
Still a B2 is a B2. I don't know of any special treatment for Canadians
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Old 23-05-2024, 06:47   #11
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Re: Regulation for skippering a U.S. flagged recreational vessel into the USA

What Jammer said. In the United States the laws specify what is illegal. That is, they do not tell you what you CAN do, they tell you what you CANNOT do. So it is not likely that there is any law or regulation that specifically says that you can do this. It is the absence of any law that say that you cannot do this that makes it legal.


Good luck, in any case.
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Old 23-05-2024, 07:42   #12
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Re: Regulation for skippering a U.S. flagged recreational vessel into the USA

I found some stuff that might be relevant but I have no expertise in this field:

46 U.S.C. 8103:

Quote:
Except as otherwise provided in this title,
only a citizen of the United States may serve as
master, chief engineer, radio officer, or officer
in charge of a deck watch or engineering watch
on a documented vessel.
Some related discussion...

Quote:
46 USC 8103 (a) and (b) pertain to documented vessels only.
Subsection (a) reads “Only a citizen of the United States may serve
as master, chief engineer, radio officer, or officer in charge of a deck
watch or engineering watch on a documented vessel.” This
subsection is straight forward; you must be a U.S. citizen to hold any
one of the above positions on a documented vessel; no exceptions.
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Old 23-05-2024, 07:51   #13
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Re: Regulation for skippering a U.S. flagged recreational vessel into the USA

Quote:
Originally Posted by leecea View Post
I found some stuff that might be relevant but I have no expertise in this field:

46 U.S.C. 8103:



Some related discussion...
If you had read a little further down on the law you just quoted you would have found that this law does not apply to yachts and is aimed at commercial vessels .... Look at the bottom line of this section of 46 U.S.C. 8103: .
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Old 23-05-2024, 08:37   #14
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Re: Regulation for skippering a U.S. flagged recreational vessel into the USA

Yes, I read all the way down and I believe the poor formatting is confusing people...

8103 has subsection (a) which is standalone.

It then has subsection (b) which has many parts and is about unlicensed seamen. (b)(2) says that (b)(1) does not apply to a yacht.

Note that in the linked discussion document is says that 8103 (a) is straight forward and there are no exceptions.

It then says that 8103 (b) "takes some more thought before determining if the regulation applies to the situation at hand"

As I underlined, I have no expertise in this field and may well be wrong, but the document and attached discussion would make me concerned.
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Old 23-05-2024, 14:24   #15
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Re: Regulation for skippering a U.S. flagged recreational vessel into the USA

It is a yacht, and he's not being compensated. No problem.

It's state registered, not documented. No problem.

It should be no problem. There are no CFR's directly relating to this situation because it is not a problem.

(That said, I'm not a lawyer. I do have a USCG ticket and have studied this more than a bit.)
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