Procedures for Entering the U.S. by boat from Canada

Procedures for Entering the U.S. by boat from Canada

Procedures for Entering the U.S. by boat from CanadaLake Champlain hosts many boaters each summer and many of those who enjoy the lake are visiting from Canada. As an international waterway, Lake Champlain is easily available to be explored.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection reminds boaters arriving in the U.S. from Canada to follow proper reporting procedures.

U.S. boaters must report to CBP:
  • After having visited any foreign port or place
  • After having had contact with any hovering vessel
  • After having received merchandise outside the U.S. territorial waters.
Canadian boaters must report to CBP:
  • When they touch U.S. soil
  • When making contact with any hovering vessel
CBP clearance may be obtained by following one of these procedures:
  • Report for inspection at the nearest open marina CBP port of entry: Cape Vincent, Heart Island and Lake Champlain.
  • If you are in possession of a pre-approved Form I-68 or are a member of a CBP Trusted Traveler Program (e.g. NEXUS or Global Entry) you can call 1-800-827-2851 to report your arrival.
  • All other boaters must report their arrival utilizing a CBP videophone at one of the following stations: Dunkirk, Erie Basin Marina (Buffalo), North Tonawanda, Youngstown, Wilson, Olcott, Point Breeze, Rochester, Sodus Point, Oswego, Sackets Harbor, Clayton, Alexandria Bay, Morristown, Ogdensburg and Waddington.
  • The Small Vessel Reporting System enables boaters to report their arrival from foreign waters. It is a free, voluntary program with online enrollment. New applicants register online and schedule an interview with a CBP officer at an authorized reporting location of their choice.


As required by the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative, U.S. and Canadian citizens must present a WHTI-compliant travel document for entry into the U.S. by land and sea. For complete WHTI information, please visit

Boaters who have an I-68 form will need to follow the travel document requirements. WHTI-compliant documents (U.S. Passport Card, Enhanced Driver’s License/Enhanced Identification Card, I-551 card or passport) enable you to use telephone clearance procedures for I-68 holders. The I-68 form is not considered an identity or travel document, and is available at U.S. ports of entry.

To speed inspection, boaters should have the following information available for CBP inspection:

  • Name, date of birth and citizenship of all persons on board
  • Name of the boat and/or boat registration number
  • U.S. decal number (if 30 feet or longer)
  • Home port and current location


Boaters and frequent cross-border travelers should join the NEXUS program. NEXUS cardholders use a special, rapid entry process when crossing the U.S.-Canada border. For more information on NEXUS, visit the website: CBP Trusted Traveler Programs

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