ChipLakeNEWS InfoSheet

This InfoSheet is number: 0802

Summary: General information about crossing the USA - Canadian Border by OPEN WATER via Private Boat.

See InfoSheet 0801 for general information about crossing the International Border by LAND.


U.S. – Canada WATER Border Crossing Notes & Comments
when traveling via
Private Passenger Boat

•International pleasure boat Border Crossing Programs between Maine and New Brunswick in the "Remote" ports area between Houlton and Vanceboro

•Lake Crossings during Periods of Open Water

•Legally Crossing the Border by Pleasure Boat when Ports are Closed and abandoned.

Alternatives to Face-to-Face Inspections US Customs & Border Protection (CBP).

The following information has been taken from the Customs & Border Protection website and other locations but local officials still seem unfamiliar with many of these programs and procedures.

The more local people ask about, apply for and use these programs, the sooner they will be activated and made known for all to use.

We should keep in mind that regulations should be enforced CONSISTANTLY in each unique LOCAL AREA rather than UNIFORMLY across all northern and southern borders...what is true for one area is not necessarily true for ALL other border areas.

Background Information:


Pursuant to 19 CFR 4.2, operators of small pleasure vessels, arriving in the United States from a foreign port or place to include any vessel which has visited a hovering vessel or received merchandise outside the territorial sea, are required to report their arrival to CBP immediately (see 19 U.S.C. 1433).
The master of the vessel reports their arrival at the nearest Customs facility or such other place as the Secretary may prescribe by regulations. These reports are tracked in the Pleasure Boat Reporting System. Pursuant to 8 CFR 235.1, an application to lawfully enter the United States must be made in person to a CBP officer at a U.S. port-of-entry when the port is open for inspection. [EDITOR: ...but all local ports aren't always open!]

Face-to Face Reporting to CBP and CBSA on East Grand Lake & North Lake
For face-to-face reporting to a US CBP official, you may ground your boat in The Thoroughfare between East Grand Lake and North Lake at the former boat launch (no dock is available) just south of the Orient/Fosterville bridge and walk up to the CBP Office during hours that it is open, usually from 7:00 AM until 11:00 PM Eastern Time during the summer season and from 7:00 AM until 5:00 PM Eastern Time before Memorial Day and after Labor Day.

For face-to-face reporting to a Canadian CBSA official, you may tie up to their dock in The Thoroughfare from 8:00 AM Atlantic Time until 12:00 PM midnight Atlantic Time during the summer season (May 15th thru November 30th) and from 9:00 AM until 5:00 PM Atlantic time before May 15th or after November 30th. There are no other US or Canadian staffed ports on East Grand or North Lakes.

The US and Canada maintain 24 hour ports in the vicinity of the dam at the foot of Spednic Lake in St. Croix, NB and in Vanceboro, ME. There are no other US or Canadian staffed ports on Spednic or Palfrey Lakes.

Exceptions to Face-to-Face reporting regulations for US Homeland Security and CBP
Alternative Inspection Systems (AIS) satisfy the boat operator’s legal requirement to report for face-to-face inspection in accordance with 8 CFR 235.1, but
boaters must still phone in their arrival to satisfy 19 USC 1433.
There are four US exceptions to the face-to-face inspection at a designated reporting location, 1)
NEXUS Marine, 2) Canadian Border Boat Landing Program (CBBLP or I-68), 3) Outlying Area Reporting Stations (OARS), and 4) the Local Boater Option (limited to Miami, Tampa, and San Juan). Participation in any of the programs does not preclude the requirement for physical report upon request by U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

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

Research is continuing with CBSA for alternatives to face-to-face reporting regulations for ENTERING CANADA. See NEXUS, OARS and CANPASS-Private Boat, below.

The NEXUS [Marine] program is (supposedly) a joint Canada-U.S. initiative that offers facilitated customs and immigration clearance for recreational low-risk boaters entering either country through registration into the program. NEXUS is valid for 5 years and satisfies the boat operator’s legal requirement to report to a port-of-entry for face-to-face inspection in accordance with 8 CFR 235.1, but boaters must still phone in their arrival to satisfy 19 USC 1433. Operators of private vessels should report arrival to 207-532-2131 ext. 219 [Houlton]. Operators may be directed to report to a staffed location for inspection [...assumes that the port is open and manned].
Required Documentation to apply includes: 1) Completed NEXUS Application with signature(s); 2)Photocopy(s) of Proof of Citizenship; 3) History (without gaps) of last five (5) years residency; 4) History (without gaps) of last five (5) years employment; 5) Photocopy (front and back) of current valid driver's license; 6) Custodial documents for children if necessary; 7) Payment via Credit Card or Certified Check or International Money Order. Original documents will be required at the final interview at the enrollment center.

What information do I have to have when I call?
All Vessel masters must phone in their arrival and have the following information available:

• name, date of birth and citizenship of all persons on board (including passport [or Nexus] number);
• Name of the boat and/or boat registration number;
• CBP user fee decal number (if boat is 30 feet or longer);
• Homeport and current location; and
• Return contact [phone] number.

To ensure timely service, an advance notice of arrival of at least one hour should be made
For more information visit:

EDITOR'S NOTE: It is understood that this is supposed to be a "harmonized" program and permission may be obtained for landing in either Canada or the USA. It is NOT clear that NEXUS (Marine) is currently active in the Chiputneticook Lakes area for entering CANADA. Word has been received recently (April 2008) that private boaters and passengers may enter the USA having left a Canadian shore IF ALL PASSENGERS ARE NEXUS credential contact with CBP officials (207-532-2131 e219) must be made immediately upon landing on a US shore. Enrollment in the NEXUS program is required and fees apply. Visit for application information and to download the application form. Cost is $50.00 (either $US or $CAN) per person for a 5-year permit (age 18 and up) and the application process also automatically provides Nexus Highway privileges. For local information phone to speak to one of the US credential-issuing officers at 506-325-3199 or 866-930-3278 in the morning on weekdays. NEXUS credentials are issued free of charge to children age 17 and younger.


One alternative to the in-person reporting requirement is the Canadian Border Boat Landing (I-68) Program, which allows approved US or Canadian applicants to enter the United States by small boat and to telephonically report their arrival to US CBP.
General CBBLP Information: (as of 05/22/2007)
Canadian Border Boat Landing Permit (I-68) applicants for admission into the United States by small pleasure boats are inspected and issued an I-68 permit for the entire boating season (calendar year). The I-68 permit allows boaters to enter the United States from Canada for recreational purposes with only the need to report to CBP by telephone upon their arrival.
Reporting requirements for persons are established under the regulation promulgated pursuant to the Immigration and Naturalization Act (INA), found at 8 CFR 235.1(a), which requires that application to lawfully enter the United States shall be made in person to a CBP Officer at a U.S. port-of-entry. Report of arrival requirements for vessels are established under 19 USC 1433 and the implementing regulation, found at 19 CFR 4.2, which requires that upon arrival in any port or place within the U.S., including, for purposes of this section, the U.S. Virgin Islands, of any vessel from a foreign port or place, any foreign vessel from a port or place within the U.S., or any vessel of the US carrying foreign merchandise for which entry has not been made, the master of the vessel shall immediately report that arrival to the nearest Customs and Border Protection facility or other location designated by the port director.
There is no requirement that boaters obtain Form I-68. However, boaters who choose not to obtain Form I-68 must report, in person, for inspection by a CBP Officer at a port-of-entry each time they enter the United States. U.S. citizen boaters who enter the United States with aliens who are without Form I-68 and without reporting for inspection may be subject to fine and/or possible seizure of the boat. Persons traveling by boat who do not have Form I-68 and who have not presented themselves for inspection are subject to arrest, possible fine, or if a Non-US Citizen, removal from the United States. [See also, the OARS section, below.]
Persons who are not U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents of the United States may use Form I-68 for visits not to exceed 72 hours to visit within 25 miles of the shoreline along the U.S. border with Canada.
The Form I-68, after an initial inspection, permits a boater to report their arrival into the United States telephonically without having to appear at a port-of-entry for an in person inspection. The initial inspection involves an interview, checking the individual in the Interagency Border Inspection System (IBIS) and possibly other law enforcement databases, completion of the form I-68, and payment of the fee.
Each applicant who is 14 years of age or older must appear in person for inspection. The names and dates of birth of children less than 14 years of age must be listed on one or both of their parents’ Form I-68. If approved, page one of the three-part Form I-68 will be issued to each applicant age 14 years of age and older. Each of the three pages of the Form I-68 will bear the photograph and fingerprint of the applicant for identification purposes. The fees for both individuals and families will remain the same as last year. [See below.]

CBBLP Frequently Asked Questions:

Q: Who is eligible to participate in this program?
A: United States citizens, Lawful Permanent Residents of the United States, Canadian citizens, Landed Commonwealth Residents of Canada, and Landed Residents of Canada who are nationals of Visa Waiver Pilot Program countries who also have a valid stamped Form I-94W, Visa Waiver Arrival-Departure Record, or Form I-94, Arrival-Departure Record if they were previously admitted with a valid unexpired visa, are eligible.

Q: What is the cost of the Form I-68?
A: The fee for an individual Form I-68 is $16.00. There is a family cap of $32.00, but each member of the family who is 14 years of age or older must obtain a separate Form I-68. Children under 14 years of age will be entered on their parent's form. For fee purposes, a family is defined as husband, wife, unmarried children under 21 years of age, and parents of either the husband or wife.

Q: Where may I obtain the Form I-68?
A: The original three-page, form I-68 is only available at the issuing port-of-entry or other specified location where the inspection is conducted. I-68 forms may be obtained in Houlton and Vanceboro.

Q: May I use a Form I-68 that I received last year?
A: No, Form I-68 is only valid for one calendar year.

Q: How long does it take to obtain the Form I-68?
A: The inspection process requires a short interview and checking of various databases, plus the time necessary to process the form I-68...perhaps an hour or so, but you should phone ahead to make an appointment with the issuing officer.

Q: Where may I appear for inspection and processing of the Form I-68?
A: The participating District Offices are [among others] Portland, ME. The CBP Office in Houlton on I-95 issues I-68 Forms. Interested persons in the eastern Maine and western New Brunswick area should contact Barry Smith or Clay Quint at the Houlton I-95 Customs & Border Protection Office 207-532-2131]

Q: What must I do if I don't have a Form I-68 to enter the United States by boat?
A: Boaters not in possession of a valid Form I-68 must either report in person for inspection at an OPEN port-of-entry or designated location or utilize one of the OARS (Outlying Area Reporting Station) videophones each time they apply for admission to the United States. Under the OARS program, videophones installed at public marinas along the Canadian border [Dickinson's Marina in Orient] provide an automated inspection service enabling two-way visual and audio communication between the inspector and the applicant for admission. Any person who does not comply with these procedures may be subject to adverse actions under the provisions of the Immigration and Nationality Act and Title 19 of the United States Code. See also Nexus Marine.

EDITOR'S NOTE: This program authorizes landing in the USA (only). There is no harmonized program for landing in Canada...boaters traveling to a Canadian shore must visit a staffed CBSA Port before landing. CanPASS-Boat credentials are no longer valid. Three 2" x 2" facial photographs must be provided for each participant's Application Form. Other identifying documents should be made available at the time of the initial inspection and issuance of the I-68 Form, including a driver’s license, birth certificate and if available, a Passport, RPEP or Nexus card. For more local information, contact Clay Quint or Barry Smith at 207-532-2131 ext 255.

The NEXUS Program, although slightly more costly, is probably a better and more encompassing system than is CBBLP/I-68 and it MAY (someday) BE harmonized for entry into Canada.


OARS is another northern border method for boaters to report entry to satisfy 19USC and 8CFR requirements into the United States from Canada. The OARS program uses videophones, typically located at public marinas, which boaters may use to report to U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers. The system is comprised of an AutoDial telephone, a video transceiver, a monitor, a facial camera and a document camera. To operate the system, the traveler opens the waterproof box and pushes the appropriate call button. This system allows the CBP officer to view the boater(s) as the inspection is taking place. Typically, OARS reporting satisfies the in-person inspection requirement, but a CBP Officer may direct a boater to report to an open port-of-entry or designated location for an in-person inspection.  Appropriate documents may be required and must be presented to the document camera that faces down, underneath the OARS Box.

OARS Frequently Asked Questions

Q: How do I enroll in OARS?
No enrollment is necessary. United States citizens, Lawful Permanent Residents of the United Sates, Canadian citizens, Landed Commonwealth Residents of Canada, and nationals of designated Visa Waiver Pilot Program countries with a valid, stamped I-94 or I-94W, Arrival/Departure Record are eligible to use OARS.

Q: Where is OARS located?
A: Dickinson’s Marina, Orient ME is the only operating OARS station in Maine.

EDITOR'S NOTE: This used to be a harmonized program BUT permission is no longer obtainable for landing in Canada. The OARS system on East Grand Lake for entry into the USA is operable (currently) BUT only during the limited times that the Orient Port is open and manned...when that port is closed and abandoned, there is no answer to the phone. From another phone, you MIGHT try phoning the NEXUS and I-68 call-in number in Houlton and ask to be admitted...207-532-2131 ex 219...that phone is manned 24/7. Nexus participants are now able to use this procedure for entry into the USA as the reporting phone number is the same for both I-68 and NEXUS Marine on the Chiputneticook Lakes.

Local Boater Option (Miami, Tampa, and San Juan) is a voluntary effort that will allow eligible, frequent pleasure boat operators and passengers, who are U.S. Citizens or Lawful Permanent Residents (LPRs) of the United States, to register themselves and their vessel with CBP. The Local Boater Option offers facilitated customs and immigration clearance for recreational low-risk boaters at time of arrival. Enrollment to the LBO Program is voluntary and will allow CBP to expedite the arrival reporting process to boaters who have enrolled into the program. This program will satisfy the boat operator’s legal requirement to report to a port-of-entry for face-to-face inspection in accordance with 8 CFR 235.1, but boaters must still phone in their arrival to satisfy 19 USC 1433.

CANPASS – Private Boats

The CanPASS - Private Boats program has been abandoned by Canada.  The obsolete information that appeared on this page previously has been taken down.

The officers of the Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA) have authority to admit travellers and goods into Canada ONLY at designated Canadian Ports of Entry...usually by motorized vehicles on roads or highways. Likewise the Field Officers of the Department of Homeland Security - Customs & Border Protection (DHS-CBP) have authority to admit travellers and goods into the USA ONLY at designated US Ports of Entry...usually by motorized vehicles on roads or highways.

Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA) Officers and Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Officers both wear BLUE Uniforms.

So who watches the borders BETWEEN the designated Ports of Entry?

The Office of Border Protection, an arm of DHS-CBP is charged with apprehending illegal border crossers into the USA and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP)...the Mounties...are charged with guarding the Canadian border BETWEEN designated ports of entry. Officers from neither agency has the authority to admit border crossers BETWEEN ports. If you are stopped in the woods or on the boundary lakes or rivers, it will probably be a DHS-CBP officer from the Office of Border Patrol or a Mountie who interviews and/or apprehends you.  Office of Border Protection Agents wear GREEN Uniforms.  You'll know a Mountie when you see one

THEREFORE: if you are stranded on a foreign shore, say while boating (high winds, mechanical trouble or out of gasoline), you might want to phone in to report your problem or emergency to either the US Border Patrol at 207-532-9061 or the RCMP in Woodstock 1-800-665-6663 or the RCMP 506-325-3000 in McAdam.


US Office of Field Operations - US Customs & Border Protection - Department of Homeland Security

Houlton Office Main Desk 207-532-2131 ext 255 - FAX 207-532-6622 - I-95, Houlton, ME

Customs Area Security Center (CASC) 207-532-2131 e219

RPEP - Credentials issuing agents include Gordon Anderson and Phil Hathaway
For an appointment 866-930-3278 or 506-325-3199 after 9:00 AM Atl Time (8:00 am Eastern).
Credentials are issued at the Houlton CBP Office on I-95, usually in the afternoon.

CBBLP/I-68 Credentials issuing agents include Clay Quint or Barry Smith
To report a
boat landing in Maine under NEXUS Marine or CBBLP I-68 207-532-2131 e255
To report a boat landing by e-mail under NEXUS Marine

Chris Sullivan, Houlton Region Port Director 207-532-2131 e240
Tom Horton - FAST,
NEXUS and RPEP 207-532-2131 e244
Keith Fleming - US CBP Area Director, Portland 207-771-3610 (Debbie Dwearcan, Asst. PDir)
Tony Woo, NE Region Public Affairs Spokesperson, Boston - 617-565-6331

Orient, ME CBP Office 207-448-2427 

Forest City, ME CBP Office 207- 448-2288

US Office of Border Patrol - US Customs & Border Protection - Department of Homeland Security

Houlton Sector Headquarters - Calais Road, Houlton, ME - 800-851-8727
Houlton OBP Station - North Road, Houlton, ME - 207-532-9061

Houlton Sector Radio Dispatch - 207-532-6521  ext. 5, 136 or 138

Joseph Mellia - Chief Patrol Officer
Jean Ray-Condon - Deputy Chief Patrol Officers
Various Supervisors and Agents

Canadian Border Services Agency - Agence des services frontaliers du Canada
1403, Route 95, Belleville, NB E7M 4Z9

Woodstock/Belleville Office 506-325-3181 Fax: 506-328-4850
David J. Andow, A/Superintendent / A/Surintendant - 506-325-3178
Steve Bede

Pat Gallvan - 506-328-9211
Regional Program Service Officer

Dominick Mallette - Halifax
Regional Manager for Programs

Nexus Issuing Center - Woodstock/Bellevue, NB
866-930-3278 or 506-325-3199 after 9:00 AM Atlantic Time (8:00 am EST).
US officers include Gordon Anderson and Phil Hathaway.

Fosterville, NB CBSA Office - 506-894-2281 - Debbie Farrell, Senior Officer with Ellen Crandelmere

Forest City, NB CBSA Office - 506-894-2452

Automated Customs Information Service (ACIS)

800-461-9999 in Canada
506-636-5064 from outside Canada

CBSA Traveler's Division - 204-983-3500
Ottawa K1A 0L5

CANPASS Programs

Denis Bourgoin
Atlantic Regional Program Officer
506-739-1373 - ? Edmundston

CANPASS Processing Centre, Montreal, PQ 514-283-9900

NEXUS Information

866-NEXUS26 - same as 866-639-8726 - a recording only

To Report Suspicious Cross-Border Activities



LINKS to related WEBSITES:

US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and

US Customs & Border Protection (CBP)

Canadian Border Security Agency (CBSA)

NEXUS (USA and CANADA Joint Program)

NEXUS Marine

Outlying Area Reporting Station (OARS)

Remote Port Entry Program (RPEP)
No RPEP page could be found

Canadian Border Boat Landing Program (CBBLP) Form I-68

CANPASS - Private Boats
Sorry, this page was taken down by CBSA

Passports and Passport Cards

Although the regulations may change,
Documents that are acceptible Proof of Identity and Citizenship under WHTI include:

Passport (traditional form)

Other accepted Trusted Traveler Credentials (RFID embedded chip)
Passport Card (Future) aka PASS Card (Radio Frequency Identification RFID embedded chip)
Nexus Highway US Form I-823 or Canadian Form E 643E
Nexus Air Canadian Form E694E
Nexus Marine Canadian Form E695E
Sentri Highway US Form I-823S (Secure Electronic Network for Travelers Rapid Inspection)
Sentri Pedestrian US Form I-823S
FAST - Limited to Commercial Truck Traffic (Free And Secure Trade)

...and maybe:
PAL Form I-866
Low Risk enrollment system Form CBP 823A
State issued Enhanced Driver’s Licenses

Washington State (citizenship must be indicated - RFID Chip embedded)
Arizona (citizenship must be indicated - RFID Chip embedded)
New York (citizenship must be indicated - RFID Chip embedded)
Vermont (citizenship must be indicated - RFID Chip embedded)

Other valid credentials include:

Valid Merchant Marine Documention (when on Maritime business)
Valid US Military ID Card (when travelling on official orders or permit)
American Indian Card Form I-872
Permanent Resident Card
Form I-551 for Alien Residents, Refugees and Asylees

Special Purpose Credentials - Good (only) at certain closed Remote Ports (incl. Orient & Forest City).

RPEP Form I-823S (Radio Frequency Identification RFID embedded chip)

EDITOR’S NOTE: The RPEP card is not listed among authorized alternative entry credentials but might be accepted at the remote ports of Orient or Forest CIty.

Special Flexible Treatment of Minors will be given during the transitional period:

Passports and alternative documents MAY be waived for US Citizens in certain individual cases on a case-by-case basis for:

Emergency Medical Treatment
Fire Fighters responding to a fire call
Emergency workers responding to a natural disaster
Medi-vac Cases
Plane Crash Survivors
Humanitarian Interest
National Interest
Seconday screening at the port may be required by CBP Officials

Canadian Customs Border Security Agency officials
any of the above listed credentials for entry into Canada
another document issued by Canadian Agencies
or may require NO DOCUMENTATION.

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