Canada Eases Border Crossing for Boaters

Norris Comer Nautical News


Semiahmoo near Blaine is a popular destination for both U.S. and Canadian boaters. Being just minutes from the border, the new legislation makes it easier to pop up to British Columbia in conjunction with a visit. Great Lakes boaters also benefit.


The Canadian Parliament has passed the Conveyance Presentation and Report Requirements Modernization Act (Bill S-233), sponsored by Canadian Senator Bob Runciman and Member of Parliament Gord Brown. The act changes the requirement for boaters reporting to Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA) officers only when they anchor or arrive on Canadian shores, instead of whenever they enter Canadian waters. Bill S-233 received Royal Assent on June 19, 2017.

This development is a sigh of relief to many boaters both in the Pacific Northwest and Great Lakes, for the complexity of the US-Canadian boundary over the water makes it difficult to know which country you are in. Prior to the passage of the new law, American boaters were required to call Canadian Customs to check in with their passport number, boat registration, and express their intentions and timeline for entering Canadian waters.

“The reporting requirements were overly rigid, they were out of step with those facing Canadians who enter U.S. waters, and they were hurting the economy of tourism-dependent border regions. And they didn’t do anything to enhance border security,” said Sen. Runciman when asked why the rule change was important.

The sentiments of Sen. Runciman appear to be echoed on the U.S. side as well. According a press release from State Senator Patricia A. Ritchie (R-Heuvelton) who worked with Canadian colleagues to support the bill, boaters from the US “who do not anchor their boat or step foot on Canadian soil do not have to report to Canadian customs … In addition, the measure will also exempt Canadian boaters from being required to report to their customs officials when they return to Canadian waters, as long as they met the same requirements while they traveled in U.S. waters.”

Will the ease of border regulations translate to more international boating? We shall see, but the poutine of the north just feels that much closer. More info is available at (search for Bill S-233).

Norris Comer

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Norris Comer is the managing editor of Northwest Yachting. He was raised in Portland, Oregon and got his BS in Marine Science at Eckerd College in St. Petersburg, FL where he lived aboard a 1973 Catalina 27 before moving to Washington. He has worked as a commercial fisherman, wandered aimlessly around the world, studied oil spills, and was a contestant on the Norwegian reality TV show, Alt for Norge. He loves living in a state where he can explore the ocean and mountains in the same day.

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