Dealing with customs;
About the most important point I can make is that you should not let customs check-ins impact your plans. Except for the obvious route planning details, its not a big deal. Some places in Canada you can check in after hours using a special phone on the dock.
You will need to check in with Canada customs when you enter Canada; you will need to check in with US customs when you come back to the US. When you depart either country you don't do anything except leave.
There are some rules that you or your crew may stumble over, and they apply going into both country's.
- When you enter Canada and come back to the US, you must not stop anywhere (no parks, gas docks, bathrooms, nothing) until you have checked in, even if it means traveling hundreds of miles out of your way.
- You may pass through without checking in if you don't stop anywhere. This means you can sail over the international property line, circle around and come back, and no one cares. It also means you may sail all the way to Bellingham (skipping Roche) to check in, but you may not stop anywhere, (even to get fuel at Orcas) You may run all the way to Alaska, just don't stop without checking in.
- "Checking in" means to go to a port of entry where they have a customs facility and tell them.
- When you arrive at the red painted customs dock everyone must stay on the boat, only one person goes to check in. (no, your crew may not run down to the bathroom until after you're checked in)
- Bring with you to check in; birth certificates, visas, passports, name of boat, names and ages of all on board, name and registration number of boat.
- They will ask you questions; where you live,where you been, where you going, purpose of visit, how long, etc.
- You can't stay at the red painted customs dock, after checking in you will need to move on, sometimes at Roche Harbor for instance the boats will be stacked up circling, waiting for a spot at the check-in dock.
That's it, real simple, fast, and very inconvenient if you now have to back track miles and miles to your favorite island, but that is why we plan our route.
Rules and requirements probably are changing as you read this, so you should probably make some phone calls or search online for new info.
- Not checking in at all, may have severe consequences. In today's heightened alert, they take things seriously, but it is not difficult to check in.