The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) requires a Ship Station License for some vessels equipped with VHF radios, RADAR, EPIRBs and some other telecommunications equipment. As of 1996, most recreational vessels no longer need the FCC license if operating domestically. "Domestically" means not traveling to foreign ports or transmitting to foreign stations, including Canada.
Vessels still required to carry an FCC Ship Station License are those:
- power vessels over 20 meters (65.6 feet) in length;
- certified to carry more than 6 passengers for hire;
- towboats and commercial fishing vessels;
- other vessels required by federal law to carry a VHF radio, radar, etc.
The Ship Station License must be on board the vessel.
A license application (Form 506) can be obtained from any office of the FCC. There is a fee for the license. Call 1-800-418-FORM (3676) for an application and information.
Canadian Border Landing Permit
The U.S. Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) requires an inspection of small vessel operators and their passengers that are entering the U.S from a foreign port including Canada. Boaters who are from Canada or who have landed upon Candian soil and are returning to the U.S. are required to report to a designated U.S. port of entry for inspection or be in possession of proper documentation.
This legal obligation to report may be met by telephone via 1-888-523-2628 if all persons on the boat have NEXUS or I-68 permits. You can call en route with a cellular phone or immediately upon arrival to the U.S. Have the following information ready when calling to avoid delays:
- Boat registration number and length (and customs decal if over 30 feet; see below)
- Captain's name and date of birth
- Total number of persons on board and value of all purchases in Canada
- The name of the marina where you first arrived on the U.S. side
Boats 30 feet or more in length must purchase an annual user fee decal from a U.S. Customs office prior to voyage to Canada.
U.S. Customs Service has offices in Ashtabula (440-964-2510), Cleveland (440-891-3800), and Toledo/Sandusky (419-259-6424). More information also can be found online at www.cbp.cgov or by calling 1-877-227-5511.
U.S. citizens traveling to Canada by boat must contact the Canada Border Services Agency at 1-888-226-7277 for instructions on where to report for a Canadian customs inspection. Currently, a passport, NEXUS, or CANPASS are required for each adult on board. Children under 16 can be admitted to Canada with a birth certificate.
Be advise that border crossing requirements may change at any time. It is the responsibility of each boat operator and passenger to know and understand the requirements for crossing the international border between the U.S. and Canada.
Waterway Homeland Security
Boaters' roles in keeping our waterways safe and secure:
Keep your distance from all military, cruise-line, or commercial shipping.
Do not approach within 100 yards, and slow to minimum speed within 500 yards of any U.S. naval vessel, including any U.S. military or military supply vessel.
Violators of the Naval Vessel Protection Zone face up to 6 years in prison and a $250,000 fine, not to mention a quick and severe response. Approaching certain other commercial vessels may result in an immediate boarding
Observe and avoid all security zones.
Avoid commercial port operation areas, especially those that involve military, cruise-line, or petroleum facilities. Observe and avoid other restricted areas near dams, power plants, etc. Violators will be perceived as a threat, and will face a quick, determined, and severe response.
Do not stop or anchor beneath bridges or in a channel.
If you do, then expect to be boarded by law enforcement officials.
Keep a sharp eye out for anything that looks peculiar or out of the ordinary.
Report all activities that seem suspicious to the local authorities, the U.S. Coast Guard, or the port or marina security. Do not approach or challenge those acting in a suspicious manner.
Always secure and lock your boat when not on board.
This includes while visiting marina restaurants, a friend's dock, or other piers. Never leave your boat accessible to others. Always take the keys to the boat with you.
When storing your boat, make sure it is secure and its engine is disabled.
If it is on a trailer, make the trailer as immovable as possible.
An annual vessel safety check performed by an authorized organization at the start of the boating season will help you determine the legally required safety equipment for your boat. When you pass inspection, you receive a Vessel Safety Check decal. Contact any watercraft office, local marine patrol, U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary, or U.S. Power Squadron to arrange an inspection.