Maritime Border Procedure for American Boaters

Canadian Border officials have recently been cracking down on boaters in the Thousand Islands region. Boaters are required to check in with border officials when crossing international maritime borders.

 Canadian Border officials have recently been cracking down on boaters in the Thousand Islands region. Boaters are required to check in with border officials when crossing international maritime borders.

A public forum was held in Clayton, NY, on June 13 in coordination with the Canadian Border Services Agency and U.S. Customs and Border Protection. Residents of the area and boaters were informed of the laws concerning marine borders and reporting one’s whereabouts. These regulations fall under Canadian law and apply to Americans coming in to Canada.  

All US boaters are required to report their location whenever they cross into Canadian territory, even if they aren’t landing or anchoring. Boaters and passengers must also have relevant travel documents with them such as passports and/or Temporary Resident Permits if criminally inadmissible.

Boaters can contact the Canadian Border Services Agency to report in at 1-888-226-7277 (888-CANPASS) via a cell phone and are required to do so as quickly as possible once crossing the border. Failure to report such a crossing could result in a boat seizure or a fine (minimum is $1000). Boaters must report to the CBSA both when they enter and exit Canadian waters.

For example, according to the Watertown Daily Times, in 2011, a Wellesley Island had his boat seized while fishing in the Gananoque Narrows for failing to report his whereabouts.

When the CBSA number is called and reporting is finalized, boaters receive a reporter number as proof of their correspondence.

Canadian waters are not regularly patrolled however, it is just in the case of suspected illegal activity that boaters will get questioned.

Ultimately however, punishment for not reporting is left at the discretion of the border patrol officers. In a statement to the Watertown Daily Times, Mark I. Pergunas, the chief of operations of the CBSA based at the Thousands Island Bridge, said that “They wouldn’t automatically take enforcement action…That would be left to the officers, who would look at the totality of the situation. If a person didn’t report, why didn’t they?”

Canadian boaters are not required to call in to the US Customs and Border Protection if they are cruising through US waters, only if they are docking or anchoring.

At the Clayton meeting, many boaters were upset with these regulations, according to the Watertown Daily Times. Residents found the reporting to be unnecessary and the specifics confusing, such as what to do if you will be crossing the border in several places in a short period of time.

Border officials instructed residents to use nautical charts to chart the locations of the international boundaries. Concerns were also raised about tourists and casual boaters who wouldn’t be able to read nautical charts or who were unaware of these regulations.

For more information about crossing the border into Canada or what documents you might need, please fill out our free online assessment form.

FWCanada is a Montreal-based immigration law firm that provides professional legal services on Canadian immigration. For more tips and updates on Canadian immigration follow FWCanada on FacebookTwitter, and Linkedin.

 

 

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