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Old 06-08-2007, 02:54 PM   #1
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In an effort to make it more convenient for U.S. boaters arriving in Florida from a foreign port to report their arrival, U.S. Customs and Border Patrol is offering a pre-departure registration program.

Until now, everyone arriving was supposed to call Customs to report their arrival and then come in person to one of their offices within 24 hours, which could be miles from a marina or closed during non-business hours. Many cruising boaters also do not have cars and must take taxis to find the nearest office to clear in.

The Local Boater Option program began in October and gives boaters in Tampa, Miami, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands the choice to register in advance with the agency. That registration would eliminate, in most cases, a requirement to meet with officials after every foreign visit.

Under the new process, boaters will be allowed to complete a one-time registration with their local Customs office. Officials say every person aboard an incoming boat must have a registration number in order to bypass the interview process, so unfortunately, everyone who is going to be on board must apply in person ahead of time for the registration number. This makes it difficult to invite last minute guests or racing crew.

For information or to enroll in the Local Boater Option, call 800-432-1216 or 800-451-0393.




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Old 06-08-2007, 05:27 PM   #2
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The Local Boater Option sure make life easier for us as a liveaboard family who like to get out often.

One year ago - a two hour voyage to Tortola could easily result in several hours of standing in line filling out paperwork!

It's a VERY short distance between the US & British Virgin Islands and the post 911 heightened border paranoia and resulting hassles made us focus our weekend jaunts on the delights found between St John, St Thomas and Water Island.

I'm not complaining here because we certainly are blessed with some very fine and satisfying anchorages... but

Until recently, we had to drop the hook, load everybody into the dinghy and proceed to the customs house in Cruz Bay, St John in order to check-in and then go back out and get underway again for the last two miles to get home on St Thomas.

The Local Boater Option now allows us to simply make a call on the way back to our home port. They can still ask us to make a face-to-face appearance if they wish... but so far they've been cool.

The program not only enables our officials to do their jobs more efficiently but it costs nothing to sign up and the guys in uniform even came to the local yacht club to meet us during breakfast and Bloody Mary's! Easy.

And - all of our cruising & racing friends are signed on... so last minute additions really aren't a problem.

In my opinion - the Local Boater Option is the best thing to happen for us around here lately and it's refreshing to see our government officials starting to lighten-up on their policies a bit.

Now - if they could only make a similar arrangement and drop the need to check-in-and-out-and-in-again between the British and US sides of the Virgin Island group entirely!

To Life!

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