When we arrived in Miami Beach on a megayacht, we called the customs number, 1-800-432-1216 and were greeted by an automated message telling us that our call is important to them and would be answered in the order that it was received. We stayed on hold like this for more than 3 hours while incurring roaming costs on our foreign mobile phones.
We finally called CBP Headquarters in Washington, DC +1 (202) 344-1770 on another phone and spoke to a live person who said that they would try to contact the Miami office. Shortly after that, the Miami number was answered.
The Customs officer took the vessel particulars and crew details over the phone and said that we were cleared in, but that the entire crew needed to report to immigration at Miami Seaport, Terminal H, within 24 hours. We took taxis from Miami Beach Marina to the port, in relays, so that we could maintain a watch on the boat.
Since the yacht was over 300 tons, the captain also needed to purchase a COFR (Certificate of Financial responsibility) against oil spills. This he did online, and by fax, and it cost about $230.
Only certain insurance companies are accepted for COFR, so the yacht's regular insurance had to be guaranteed by another insurer in Bermuda at a cost of about $2500.
He had also submitted a vessel reporting crew list to the Coast Guard, as required for foreign flagged vessels over 300 tons, more than 48 hours in advance of our arrival.
Here is some other information that I got off the internet:
Advice from US Customs and Border Protection
When a private vessel arrives at a South Florida port of entry, the master of the vessel must telephonically report arrival immediately to U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP). Additionally, the master and all passengers must physically present themselves for an in-person inspection.
If the vessel is U.S. flagged or is a foreign-flagged vessel that does not qualify for a cruising license, and is 30 feet or longer in length, the owner must obtain user fee decal, which is available for $25. Decals may also be purchased via the Internet at https://dtops.cbp.dhs.gov/
If a foreign-flagged vessel will be sailing to a number of ports during a stay in the United States, it may be eligible for a cruising license. This license exempts pleasure boats of certain countries from having to undergo formal entry and clearance procedures at all but the first port of entry. If your vessel is eligible, please request the cruising license at your first port of entry.
There are certain entry requirements of which boats should be particularly aware. One is the requirement to obtain approval from ATF • in advance • for the entry of all firearms on board the vessel. If you do not have the approved ATF Form 6 for firearms, CBP will detain them.
Another requirement is to declare currency and negotiable monetary instruments, if you have more than $10,000 on board. Failure to do so could result in the seizure of the money.
Finally, CBP now strictly enforces the requirement to declare all foodstuffs on board, in particular fresh fruits and vegetables and meat products. While many items may be admissible, it is essential that they be declared so that a CBP officer can inspect them to make sure they are free of pests or disease. Failure to declare could result in a $1,000 fine.
CBP will make every attempt to accommodate large regatta groups arriving from foreign with multiple vessels. Please contact the nearest CBP Port of Entry in advance to request on-site clearance.
Masters, crew and passengers must report their arrival immediately upon entering the United States by calling one of the following 24-hour, 1-800 numbers: 1-800-432-1216 or 1-800-451-0393." [Those numbers are for South Florida entries only. • LCR]
Upon completion of phoning in their arrival, boaters will be directed to the nearest Port of Entry to present themselves and any passengers for a face-to-face interview within 24 hours. South Florida Ports of Entry are as follows: Key West, Port of Miami, Tamiami Executive Airport, Opa Locka Airport, Miami General Aviation Facility, Port Everglades, Ft. Lauderdale Executive Airport, Ft. Lauderdale General Aviation Facility, West Palm Beach, Palm Beach International Airport, Ft. Pierce/St. Lucie International Airport.
Failure to report can result in civil penalties as defined in Title 19, United States Code, Section 1436 to include a penalty of $5,000 for the first violation and $10,000 for each subsequent violation with the conveyance subject to seizure and forfeiture. In addition to being liable for a civil penalty, any master who intentionally commits a violation under subsection (a) of the above-stated section, upon conviction, is liable for a fine of not more than $2,000 or imprisonment for one year, or both.
These revised private boating procedures enhance CBP’s ability to carry out the twin goals of preventing terrorists and terrorist weapons from entering the United States, while at the same time facilitating legitimate travel and trade.
For general questions regarding any CBP issues, please contact 1-877-CBP-5511 or visit our website, CBP.GOV .
Howard [ Just Imagine ] 17-Jan-2008