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"Leaving" the US? Newbie question

Discussion in 'General Yachting Discussion' started by Frisco_Shane, Mar 1, 2015.

  1. Frisco_Shane

    Frisco_Shane New Member

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    If I cruise from my back yard dock in Boca, what is considered "leaving the US," and what would determine if I had to visit Customs before sailing back to my house? Let's say I cruised to Bimini, or further out. Would I have to clear customs? Do any of you regularly make such trips? What is the governing law? I know that technically one has to clear customs when visiting another country; but, if I'm just CRUISING the islands, does that constitute "leaving the US" and require a customs clearance? Thanks!
  2. Capt J

    Capt J Senior Member

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    Yes. Anytime you are in foriegn waters you need to clear customs in that country. Going to Bimini would constitute leaving the US for example. Yes you would need to clear customs there, then clear customs here when you get back.
  3. Frisco_Shane

    Frisco_Shane New Member

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    Thanks, Capt. J. So, am I limited to a 6-mile out cruise, then?
  4. Capt Ralph

    Capt Ralph Senior Member

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    Let us define your example cruise.
    #1 you pop over, check into Bahamas customs, have dinner, spend a night and come home the next day.
    Yes, you must clear US customs.
    #2 you pop over, step one foot on shore for a micro second, you must clear customs there and home again.
    #3 You run down the gulf stream out of us waters, you do not make landfall anywhere else. Even raise a yellow flag if you enter Bahamian waters. Not made contact with another boat for commerce or trade, and do not land on shore then come home, then no customs visits or calls are required.
    However, prepare for a boarding anyway. Who runs over and back without stopping?



    Any small pleasure vessel leaving a United States port into international or foreign waters, without a call at a foreign port, does not satisfy the foreign departure requirement. Therefore, certain fishing vessels, cruises to nowhere, or any vessel that leaves from a United States port and returns without calling a foreign port or place, has not departed the United States.

    http://www.cbp.gov/travel/pleasure-boats-private-flyers/pleasure-boat-overview


    The US Customs here in Jax are a great bunch of kids at the TalleyRand facility (in the office, not on the water). Helpful a friendly office near you could be of help.
  5. Capt J

    Capt J Senior Member

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    Sportfish and center consoles run over to fish for the day and don't touch land a lot of times
  6. NYCAP123

    NYCAP123 Senior Member

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    Since this is an international forum:
    Although not much of an issue in the Bahamas as far as I know, note should be made that fishing in foreign waters can get one into a lot of trouble in other places. That really limits your reasons for entering foreign waters if you don't intend to touch land and clear customs. So don't be surprised to be met at the dock upon your return as rcrapps pointed out.
  7. captholli

    captholli Senior Member

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    Many fisherman leaving the key's for a day trip to Cay Sal banks have learned the hard way about being in Bahamian waters fishing without previously clearing in with Bahamas' customs either in Cat or Bimini (100 miles north) defense force vessels aren't as frequent as U.S. cutters on the bank but when they do come through they tow / seize boats and gear depending on how egregious the offence is if you have undersize or over limits etc. I would also think that if you shot over to Sail bank from WPB and didn't check in @ Old Bahama Bay you would be in deep $$$ in fines trouble ++ if boarded by the Defense force when they ask you for your clearance papers plus cruising and fishing permits etc. Just being in their waters without clearing within 24 hrs puts you in a bad position.
  8. Capt Ralph

    Capt Ralph Senior Member

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    Yep, and fishing could be a risky activity (separate from the OP)..
    I know one boat that gets his cruising and fishing papers, then bounces back and forth from Lake Worth. I'm sure a lot of the regulars do this also. So, visit the customs house, pay the taxes & fees, return, clear with US customs, Then bounce back and forth. Scenario #3 above may apply.

    Clearing US customs is usually not a big issue. The Boaters Option can save a lot of time.

    http://www.cbp.gov/travel/pleasure-boats-private-flyers/pleasure-boat-locations/fl
  9. CaptNeil

    CaptNeil Member

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    A day trip to fish the corner is highly illegal in the Bahamas. You are not even supposed to do any trolling on your crossing if doing a trip to Bimini. You need to go to the first port of call when entering Bahamian waters check in then you can turn around and go fishing.