Customs Instructions

Boat Regulations
Boat Regulations


Customs Instructions


U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP)/ Department of Homeland Security is the unified border agency of the United States that enforces all customs, immigration and agriculture-related laws and regulations. All international mariners are urged to follow the letter of the law, as willful violators will be subject to civil and criminal penalties. A strong partnership between CBP and the international boating community will continue to keep Newport a safe and welcoming destination for all international travelers.


Newport Harbor is the only CBP Designated Port of Inspection in Rhode Island.


Report Suspicious Activity to 1-800-BE-ALERT


To find additional information on CBP rules and regulations go to



Operators of 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 to CBP upon arrival.


If your boat has anchored or tied up, you are considered to have entered the United States. No one shall board or leave the boat without first completing customs processing, unless permission to do so is granted by the CBP Officer in charge. The only exception to this requirement is to report arrival. If it is necessary for someone to leave the boat to report arrival to CBP, he or she must return to the boat after reporting and remain on board unless instructed otherwise. No one who arrived on that boat may leave until the CBP Officer grants permission to go ashore.



To ensure timely service, advance notice of arrival of at least one hour should be made. 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 number);
  • Name of the boat and/or boat registration number;
  • CBP user fee decal number (if 30 feet or longer);
  • Homeport and current location; and
  • Return contact number


Phone in Arrivals when arriving in the New England Area: (207) 532-2131 EXT. 255 (24 Hour Contact)


Arrivals may also be reported via FAX: (207) 532-6622 (fax) or email:



Cruising licenses will exempt pleasure boats of certain countries from having to undergo formal entry and clearance procedures and can be obtained from the CBP Port Direct at the first port of arrival in the United States. U.S. pleasure craft and foreign-flag vessels without a cruising license, which are 30 feet or longer in length, must pay an annual fee of $27.50 for the user fee decal. Application Form 339v may be purchased online at



CBP Agriculture Specialists regulate the importation of fruits, vegetables, plants and plant products, meat and meat products, live animals, birds and eggs, and soil. Mariners are required to report these items on their Customs and Border Protection Declaration, in addition to having visited a farm, other livestock facility, or having been around live animals prior to arriving in the United States.



Visit for more information on CBP’s mission, history, regulations, news, information and current issues.



U.S. COAST GUARD – Enlists Mariners for Homeland Security

Mariners can be valuable contributors to the protection of our nation by reporting suspicious activities in and around the water. Following are examples of unusual or suspicious activity and procedures for reporting:


Unfamiliar individuals who:

  • Loiter or take photos, notes or sketches near commercial/passenger vessel activities, bridges or waterside facilities.
  • Attempt to rent/buy fishing or recreational vessels with cash for short term use.
  • Attempt to gain access to waterside facilities without proper identification.


Vessels that:

  • Circle in and around pilings, particularly near commercial traffic.
  • Loiter offshore, near commercial/passenger vessel activities.


Other items of concern:

  • Suspicious attachments to bridges and overpasses.
  • Vehicles left unattended or abandoned near commercial/passenger facilities.
  • Unusual packages or deliveries.
  • Vendors or roadside food stands recently established near commercial passenger terminals or waterside facilities.


To Report Suspicious Activity Contact:

USCG Sector SE New England Command Center:
1-508-457-3211 (24 Hour)


National Response Center: 1–800–424–8802


For Immediate Danger to Life or Property, Dial 911


Photo: Onne van der Wal