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Thread: US Customs sticker

  1. #1
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    US Customs sticker

    Heading for Canada tomorrow so decided to save myself some hassle and go on line and buy my US Customs sticker for the boat. Normally I just pay at the customs dock when I'm clearing back into the US, but decided to get all modern and go online and create an account etc.

    Got the account created just fine but when I went to pay evidently there is a separate payment account that is set up as well. Because I'd been paying at the customs dock till now, they had set up an account for me but of course I had no logon or password. Trying to set up a new payment account got the notice that one was already set up for my address and I couldn't have another. Went to call the help line and their office hours are only till 4pm East Coast time.

    So started all over aging this am. Help person was helpful and was able to get my payment set up just fine. They mail you the sticker but the receipt is just as good so I wasn't expecting to have it for this trip anyway. However the receipt stated that they were behind in mailing out stickers and it would be 12 WEEKS before it would arrive! How and why does it take 12 weeks to pop a sticker in an envelope?

    Now I've never known what in the world this was for except as a tax on boats 30' and up. It doesn't 'register' your boat or provide them with any new information that isn't already in their system, and that information doesn't change year to year anyway. The sticker is really just a 'receipt' that you've paid their tax this year.

    I guess as long as they get their money, they don't care too much about the stickers.

    Grumble, grumble

    Kevin Wright
    E35 Hydro Therapy

  2. #2
    Contributing Partner Teranodon's Avatar
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    I think you are right to grumble. This sticker business is just a shakedown. Paying for nothing in return. Plus the system is creaky and inefficient. This year, I waited for months for my sticker to arrive. When I tried to find out the status of my order, I was informed that it was delayed by the government shutdown. What rubbish. When I finally did go to Canada (Port Browning, Winter Cove) and came back, the guy on the NEXUS phone line asked me for my BR number and sticker number. So you need to have it.

    Next trip I'm going to try out that ROAM app. I'm told it works out here now. You have to take some time to set it up, though.
    Stefan Michalowski
    San Juan Island, WA
    1988 Ericson 34 "Talpa"

  3. #3
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    I just came back through Roche Harbor on Sunday and they had fliers for that CBP ROAM program so evidently it is working in the PNW now. Or at least our corner of it. Going to get it set up on my phone. Evidently it is a smartphone app that lets you set up an account and enables a 'video interview' if needed so you can clear customs without stopping in port. I've downloaded the app and will try setting up an account tonight when I'm home with my passport info etc. Won't be back up to Canada until September probably but will be really nice not to have to stop anymore. They used to have a system where you could clear on your cellphone but that only lasted a few years and went away with 9/11.

    Other thing I noticed is that Sunday at 11am I had no problem pulling right up to the customs dock at Roche. Been YEARS since I have been able to do that in the summertime. Sometimes I've had to sail around in the holding pattern for an hour or more waiting for my turn to dock. So maybe a lot of people have already made the switch.

    Kevin Wright
    E35 Hydro Therapy

  4. #4
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    Just an update on the CBP Roam ap on the cellphone. I used it successfully coming back from Canada 2 weeks ago and was able to avoid stopping in Roche or Friday Harbor to clear. Did take about 3 tries since I kept losing the signal and getting dropped off and actually had to drop down closer to Roche to get a good enough signal. But finally worked. I will say you NEED to have everyone on the boat registered as a 'trusted' traveler, not just have their information loaded into the program. We didn't and it took some extra steps to get that cleared up while we waited, but Customs was very cooperative and got the job done.

    Also at one point the program froze on me and left me with a screen that didn't have an option of going forward/back/exiting etc. After about 20 minutes I had to go in and delete the ap off my phone. Then download it again. And once I did that all the specific information on travelers, boat, etc. was lost. Evidently that is resident on your phone, not with Customs. So I had to reenter all that information as well. OK so it probably would have been faster to go to Roche. And all this done in a pea soup fog while dodging a freighter coming around Turn Point.

    But I'm sure it will be easier next time...

    Kevin Wright
    E35 Hydro Therapy

  5. #5
    Makes Up For It With Enthusiasm Geoff W.'s Avatar
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    I'll chime in and say we've used the app to deliver boats up to Victoria for Swiftsure as well. Mild panic as I couldn't find my passport information, but we essentially video-chatted with the customs agent and "showed them around" the boat so they could see there were no bodies, drugs, or citrus fruits. Seems like a good way to go.
    s/v "Delightful"
    1987 E32-3
    Hull #712

  6. #6
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    Just get the Washington Enhanced License and you don't have to have your passport with you. It's most convient because it always is in your wallet. It is pink, though.
    Bob Morrison
    1987 E-34 Hull #15
    "Terra Nova"

  7. #7
    Curator of Broken Parts toddster's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by supersailor View Post
    Just get the Washington Enhanced License and you don't have to have your passport with you. It's most convient because it always is in your wallet. It is pink, though.
    Last time I renewed, I paid a bit extra for the passport card. Also always in wallet. Good for driving or flying into Canada or Mexico, not sure about sailing... Handy if you want to fly but live in a state whose bureaucrats are too busy with personal issues to actually do their jobs - such as reconciling the ID cards...
    s/v arcturus E29 #134

  8. #8
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    you can't use the passport card for international air travel. overland and sea it's ok though.

  9. #9
    Curator of Broken Parts toddster's Avatar
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    Good to know... no spontaneous trips to Cabo without going home and packing, then. Only a fantasy, anyway.
    The airport connection, though, is that it's good for domestic air travel where the Oregon DL is not.
    s/v arcturus E29 #134

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by toddster View Post
    Good to know... no spontaneous trips to Cabo without going home and packing, then. Only a fantasy, anyway.
    The airport connection, though, is that it's good for domestic air travel where the Oregon DL is not.

    everything starts as a dream my friend.

  11. #11
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    I guess we should be glad... the check in and out of Mexico took us 3 days!

    Seems like the only folks that have it right are the French... itís quick, friendly, and costs no money.

    An app though, now that is interesting.

    -P

  12. #12
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    The enhanced licenses always seemed like a stop gap measure to me. Yes it cost a few $ more, but why not go ahead and get a passport that is good anywhere, for all modes of transportation, and lasts 10 years. I have a passport card, which was handy when you had to send to your passport to some of the foreign embassies to get a visa which could take a few weeks to do. That gave me a way to sail into Canada while my China or Vietnam visa was being processed ( I travel a lot for business).

    As an aside, I'm traveling now and just cleared customs coming out of Korea without ever facing a real person. Got to a kiosk, scanned my passport then it took a picture of my face (I'm sure facial recognition software is involved), then left and right hand fingerprints on a scanner and the gate opened and I walked through. The old days of a dour looking official actually stamping your passport are going the way of the dodo.

    Kevin Wright
    E35 Hydro Therapy

  13. #13
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    Two reasons for the enhanced licence. It fits in the wallet and you always carry your wallet. The passport is an awkward size. More importantly, the Washington Drivers Licence is no longer accepted by the Feds as proof of identity. The enhanced licence is.
    Bob Morrison
    1987 E-34 Hull #15
    "Terra Nova"

  14. #14
    Senior Moderator Loren Beach's Avatar
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    Post Basic "sticker" info

    https://www.cbp.gov/trade/basic-import-export/uftd-info

    Note the we sailors of small/mid-size boats got swept up in a program aimed at regular boarder crossers.
    I really doubt that anyone in Congress gave the small print a thorough look, and even if they did so they saw "boat" and figured that this was a wealthy minuscule part of the affected users, whose opinion was not politically crucial, either way.
    1988 Olson 34 #8
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    Portland, OR USA

  15. #15
    Advanced Beginner bgary's Avatar
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    I have a NEXUS (US/CAN trusted traveler) card, and a DTOPS sticker.

    Between the two, I've been able to check in by phone on each of my border crossings - 2 clearing into BC, and 2 clearing back into US. Have not needed to visit a Customs dock yet - I've gotten the clearance number by phone each time.

    The last time I cleared back into the US, the Customs officer on the phone said if I got a BR number I wouldn't be asked so many questions when I checked in by phone. I wasn't unhappy - the questions weren't onerous - so I probably won't bother changing things for 2020 unless there's a new requirementment.

    $.02

    Bruce
    "Makana" (ex-Thelonious)
    1985 Ericson 32-III #604
    Makana blog: here

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