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Copy of Canada Border Services Agency Fact Sheet

This fact sheet appears on the Canadian Border Services Agency website:

Fact Sheet

July 2011

Simplified cell phone reporting for private boaters

While the law has not changed, the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) has modernized its reporting requirements for pleasure craft entering Canadian waters, in an effort to make it easier for private boaters to comply with reporting requirements.

Requirement to Report

All recreational boaters are required to present themselves upon their arrival in Canada as per the Customs Act (CA) and Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA). This includes all foreign boaters entering Canada, as well as private boaters who depart Canada and enter foreign waters, and subsequently return to Canada.

This obligation exists regardless of their activities while outside of Canada or their planned activities while in Canada. Arrival in Canada occurs when the pleasure craft crosses the international boundary into Canadian waters.

This provision applies regardless of whether or not boaters drop anchor, land, enter an inland tributary or moor alongside another vessel while in foreign waters.

The only exception to the above applies to vessels that are ‘in-transit’ through Canada. In order to be considered “in-transit” the vessel must be proceeding directly from one point outside of Canada to another point outside of Canada. In-transit movement must be continuous, uninterrupted and without delays or stopovers.  Such movement could be for reasons of the shortest route, requirement of deep waters, evading obstacles such as bridges, etc.

Revised Reporting Arrangements

Certain private boaters may now present themselves to the CBSA by calling the Telephone Reporting Centre (TRC) from their cellular telephones from the location at which they enter Canadian waters. The following groups of individuals may report by cellular phone:

  • Canadian citizens and permanent residents who have not landed on U.S. soil; and
  • U.S. citizens and permanent residents who do not plan on landing on Canadian soil.

Owners/operators of private boats that are strictly weaving in and out of Canadian waters but are not in transit, will be required to call the TRC only once at the time of their initial entry into Canadian waters. If this activity changes, i.e., the vessel docks in Canada or takes on new persons or goods while in foreign waters, the boater must report directly to a designated marine reporting site and call the TRC upon their arrival in Canada.

All other private boaters, including those without cellular telephones, must proceed directly to a designated marine telephone reporting site and place a call to the TRC in order to obtain CBSA clearance. This includes all vessels carrying foreign nationals (other than U.S. citizens or permanent residents).

Calling the Telephone Reporting Centre

Upon entering Canadian waters, private boaters who qualify can present themselves to the CBSA by calling the Telephone Reporting Centre (TRC) at 1-888-226-7277. As noted above, all other private boaters, including vessels carrying foreign nationals (other than U.S. citizens or permanent residents), must proceed directly to a designated marine telephone reporting site and place a call to the TRC in order to obtain CBSA clearance.

When pleasure craft operators call the TRC, they will be required to answer a few questions regarding their trip, passengers onboard the vessel, and their declarations. It is the responsibility of the owner/operator to ensure all those onboard have proper identification. After recording the information provided, the border services officer (BSO) at the TRC will make a decision on whether a verification or examination is required or not. If no examination is necessary, the officer at the TRC will provide a report number to the owner/operator. The receipt of this report number will constitute release and approval for entry into Canada.

If a verification or examination is to be conducted, the BSO at the TRC will advise the owner/operator to proceed to the closest reporting site and to ensure that all goods and passengers remain onboard until the verification team arrives. A report number will be provided by a BSO following the verification process. Owners/operators should keep their report number available during their entire stay in Canada.

Failure to Report

Failure to report may result in detention, seizure or forfeiture of the vessel and/or monetary penalties. The minimum fine for failing to report to the CBSA upon entry to Canada is C$1,000.

Following enforcement action, all persons have the right to appeal the penalty. An independent third party reviews the elements of the seizure/action and will render a decision. To appeal a seizure or penalty, individuals must send a written submission to the Recourse Directorate of the CBSA. Consult the Disagreements, review and appeals section for more information. The appeal must be filed within 90 days of the penalty action.

Advanced Reporting Arrangements

NEXUS members can provide advance notice to the CBSA at least 30 minutes (minimum) and up to four hours (maximum) prior to arriving in Canada by calling the NEXUS Telephone Reporting Centre at 1-866-99-NEXUS (1-866-996-3987).

CANPASS members are required to provide advance notification to the CBSA at least 30 minutes (minimum) and up to four hours (maximum) prior to arriving in Canada by calling the TRC at 1-888-CANPASS (1-888-226-7277)

The CBSA is reviewing its reporting arrangements for participants in large events, such as fishing derbies, and is considering options to facilitate a more streamlined approach in these cases.

Posted in: News Article
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Hugh Cowan
Comment by: Hugh Cowan ( )
Left at: 2:20 PM Friday, July 15, 2011
Every boater in the Thousand Islands area should carefully read this Fact Sheet. Read literally, it would seem that CBSA is now requiring any Canadian boater who leaves Canadian waters, however short the absence, and notwithstanding they do not make a stop on the US side to report to CBSA by cell phone upon re-entering Canadian waters. One of our favourite routes to take visitors for a "sense of the River" is from Wolfe Island down the Seaway to just beyond Alex Bay and then north to Rockport and back on the Canadian side. In the 30 years we have sailed in the Thousand Islands, we have done that route many times and, provided we did not stop on the US side, I have never felt it a requirement to "check in" with CBSA upon reentering Canadian waters off Rockport, but the "rules" now seem to have changed. As any boater in the area will realize, during the course of almost any trip through the Thousand Islands, with the meandering border, it is quite likely that you will cross, and re-cross, the border several times during the course of your trip - even assuming you are aware of exactly where the border is at any given point. Obviously, in coming up with this Fact Sheet which I gather CBSA says is simply a statement of what has always been the law, CBSA has no idea of the chaos it will create in this area. Hopefully, someone within CBSA with some sense will see that this will simply not work and will come up with a revised policy which makes sense in the Thousand Islands. Also hopefully, but with a sense of dread, CBSA will staff their 888 number with adequate personnel to deal with the volumes of calls this Fact Sheet will likely generate during the course of any summer day as the impact of this Fact Sheet is realized by boaters in the area.
Mark Bond
Comment by: Mark Bond ( )
Left at: 6:06 PM Friday, July 15, 2011
You can bet with Owens & Schumer getting involved, there will be nothing BUT confusion
Susie Smith
Comment by: Susie Smith
Left at: 8:59 PM Friday, July 15, 2011
Editor's Note: I posted the comment above, but I feel it strays unnecessarily into the political arena. Over the coming weeks, we are hoping to find good solutions for both sides of the border.
Hugh Cowan
Comment by: Hugh Cowan ( )
Left at: 10:32 PM Friday, July 15, 2011
I am not commenting, and will not comment, on the US side, which seems to have its own problems, but it does seem to me that we have our own, Canadian problems here, where the political/bureaucratic "solution" is simply impracticable. We Live on the River - crossing and re-crossing the so-called border daily is a fact of life - from ice out to freeze in - and our bureaucrats have to realize that. For now, my cell phone will be calling CBSA regularly to report my "temporary" crossing of the border onto the US side without stopping on the US side - maybe buy Bell Canada stock on the way ? This is a silly way to address cross-border issues - Thank God We Do Not Get All the (Good) Government We Pay For :))
Bob Rissberger
Comment by: Bob Rissberger ( )
Left at: 12:15 PM Monday, July 18, 2011
We have a home on Wellesley Island, with our docks about 150 ft. from the Canadian Border. If we interpret the CBSA reporting arrangements "literally", even waterskiing in our immediate area would require us to figure out who will be in the boat or skiing, and calling in to CANPASS 30 minutes before skiing. Then, if approved with a Clearance Number, we may proceed to ski back and forth over the "dotted line in the water", and hope that no-one falls, and that we do not stop at our dock to add or subract boaters or skiers a few minutes later. And when the skiing or boating is over, do we have to report back to the US to "legally re-enter the USA", which can only be accomplished many miles from our home?

I guess we have inadvertently and naively broken the law hundreds of times, whether just taking friends or family around Wellesley Island, around Grindstone, or down the Canadian Mid Channel for a fuel stop at Alex Bay.

This is NOT going to help with friendly vacationing in the "Fresh Water Boating Capital of the World", and is certainly not what was intended in the recent application and interpretation of this "old law".

This is almost as rediculous as the mandating of 10% (+) ethanol based fuel on boaters, only to cause serious operational issues with any power units more than a few years old!!

Will common sense prevail between two most friendly nations with one of the longest borders in the world? Ehh.