Recreational Boating Information for the Northwest
Customs | Traveler Programs & Documentation Requirements
It can be a bit tricky to understand what documentation is needed when traveling into Canada by boat and getting back to the U.S. As most of our viewers live in the U.S. we will focus on U.S. citizen requirements but we’ll cover some information for our Canadian friends.
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Everyone crossing into Canada must have required citizenship documents including children. Children traveling which are not family members must have their parents provide a written and notarized authorization to cross the border. Pets must have written proof of rabies vaccination.
A passport is your best option when traveling to Canada and returning however it technically isn't required for U.S. citizens....yet! Washington State Enhanced Drivers License will be required by 2020 from our understanding.
Here is a list of documentation needed or acceptable to clear Canadian and U.S. customs.
- Enhanced Drivers License - highly recommended
- Passport - highly recommended
- Birth Certificate - a must for children & a good idea for all
- Nexus Card - 0ptional for Canadian & U.S. Citizens
- I-68 Program - optional for U.S. customs clearance
- Canpass - optional for Canadian customs clearance
- Pet Vaccination - written verification required
- Non Family Children - required notarized authorization
The NEXUS Card:
The Nexus card is a United States - Canadian program for pre-approved, low-risk travellers entering Canada or the United States at designated air, land and marine ports of entry. The card is WHTI compliant for entering the U.S. (Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative).
The NEXUS card has been approved as an alternative to the passport into the United States for U.S. and Canadian citizens. Members can report by phone (1-866-996-3987) from 30 minutes up to four hours prior to customs arrival into Canada. You can also call 1-800-562-5943 for Puget Sound Boat Arrivals Only.
Both the United States and Canada must approve your application for you to become a member of NEXUS. The U.S. application is generally done on-line and Canadian citizens can also apply on-line or with a paper application. Appointments for interviews will be requested with locations in Vancouver, B.C., Blaine and Seattle.
Note: all family members and or guest traveling together on a boat must have an NEXUS card for check in. If not, check-in at a customs dock will be required. The card is $50 per person but children under 18 are free. Card will need renewal every 5 years.
Calling In: Members can report by phone from 30 minutes up to four hours prior to customs arrival into Canada or the U.S. When calling, a border officer will provide a report number which you must keep and have avaliable. After establishing an ETA, a border officer will meet you at the specified docking location when requested. If an officer is not at the dock location at the time of arrival or ETA, you may proceed on. We however recommend giving them 10 or 15 minutes.
- Information (U.S. and Canada) 1-866-639-8726
CANPASS - Private Boats Program
Canpass is a co-operative effort between the Canada Customs and Revenue Agency (CCRA) and Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) to streamline customs and immigration clearance of low-risk travelers. The program combines a telephone reporting system with a pre-approval permit for recreational boaters which provides an option of calling before they arrive and receiving clearance to enter Canada.
Travelers may declare goods by telephone, and can pay any applicable duties by credit card. Those who want to pay cash have to report to the nearest customs office.
The program is available to citizens and legal permanent residents of Canada and the United States who have no record of any customs or immigration violation, and who have not been convicted of any criminal offence for which a pardon has not been granted.
All individuals onboard the vessel must have the permit to clear customs via this method.
Permit holders report to customs by calling 1-888-CANPASS
(1-888-226-7277) up to four hours before they arrive in Canada from the United States. For more information, click CBSA.
Canadian Border Boat Landing Permit (I-68)
Canadian Border Boat Landing Permit (I-68) applicants for admission into the United States by small pleasure boats are inspected and issued an I-68 permit for the entire boating season. The I-68 permit allows boaters to enter the United States from Canada for recreational purposes with only the need to report to CBP by telephoning in their arrival.
There is no requirement that boaters must obtain a Form I-68. However, boaters who choose not to obtain a Form I-68 must report, in person, for inspection by a CBP Officer at a port-of-entry each time they enter the United States.
Each applicant who is 14 years of age or older must appear in person for inspection. The names and dates of birth of children less than 14 years of age must be listed on one or both of their parents' Form I-68. If approved, page one of the three-part Form I-68 will be issued to each applicant age 14 years of age and older. Each of the three pages of the Form I-68 will bear the photograph and fingerprint of the applicant for identification purposes. The fees for both individuals and families will remain the same as last year. Click here for more details.
Small Vessel Reporting System (SVRS)
The SVRS pilot is a web-based automated on-line reporting system created for participants to expeditiously report their intended arrivals from foreign. In addition, the pilot web-based system will facilitate the enrollment of new applicants for SVRS. New applicants will be able to enroll and make an appointment for a face-to-face interview with a CBP officer at an authorized reporting location of their choosing. Once participation in SVRS is granted by CBP, the participant will receive an email with their SVRS number and instructions for setting their initial password for SVRS.
Enrollment in SVRS is voluntary, free of charge, and will facilitate your clearance procedures. This program will allow participants, under certain circumstances, to telephonically report the arrival of the vessel, make customs declarations for any imported good, and submit necessary additional information for immigration inspection purposes. Enhancements to the program was initially deployed in 2011, which include voluntary web-based pre-departure filing of requisite vessel reporting information in the form of a float plan. This will further expedite the pilot by allowing vessel masters to report their arrival via a web-enabled telephone or through an automated phone system alleviating call wait times. All U.S. citizens, nationals and lawful permanent residents; Canadian citizens and permanent residents of Canada who are nationals of a Visa Waiver Program (VWP) country are eligible to participate. Both masters and passengers will be allowed to register; the master will be required to provide vessel information. Click here for more details on SVRS.
The Northwest Cruising Bible
Apply for an Enhanced WA ID Card
The Washington State Department of Licensing offers an enhanced ID card (EID), which you can use as an alternative to a passport when re-entering the U.S. at land and sea border crossings. Anyone who is a Washington state resident can apply for an EID, regardless of age.
To apply for an EID you will need to visit an EDL/EID office in person. To visit an appointment-only office, call (360) 902-3900 to make an appointment.
- How to apply for a passport overview -
Travelling with Pets into Canada