When you get back to the states from the Bahamas you will need to report into the US Customs and Immigration office. Go here to see the Pleasure Boat Reporting Requirements.
One thing you should know before you go, that we didn’t know, is that before you leave the US you should purchase a User Fee Decal for your boat. For information and directions on how to apply for your decal go to the U.S. Custom and Border Protection website. This decal is good for one calendar year, meaning January 1-December 31. This decal cost is $28.24. Apparently, if you have this decal, you do not need to appear in person to check in, you just need to call the Small vessel Reporting number and you may check in that way. DO NOT take my word on that. It’s all very confusing sometimes, and things seam to change sometimes without your knowledge.
As of April 2018 there is a new App called ROAM that you can get on your Apple or Android device that you can also check in with. SVRS (Small Vessel Reporting System) is no longer in use. We do not have any experience with either of these programs.
Carolyn at The Boat Galley has a great article about the ROAM app. Check it out here!
When we arrived back in the states, we came in the Palm Beach Inlet by Peanut Island, Florida. When we had anchored, I called the Small Vessel Reporting phone number, 1800-432-1216, (This is when I found out we should have gotten the decal before we left). The people on the phone were very helpful and quick. The agent I spoke to, took information for everyone onboard.
The information they wanted was:
Date of Birth
They also asked for information on our boat:
Boat Registration Number
User Fee Decal Number
After they received all our information, the agent gave me an arrival number, which you must bring with you when you check in at the customs office in person. At the immigration office, they also needed to see our passports. Once you call you will have 24 hours to report in person at a customs office if that is required of you.
Sorry about the glare! Photos of the immigration office signs in the window.
Before you decide when to make the trip back to the states, make sure that you know what office you will be going to (if you will be reporting in person) and what their hours of operation are.
We anchored right next to a reporting office. The only issue with that, is we got back to the states on a Saturday, and that office is not open on Sundays…. so we had to find another office to report to in person. The agent on the phone told us there was another office at the airport that we could check in at. The only issue with that, was that we had to get an UBER ride which was about a 20 minute drive, when it could have been a 2 minute walk.
In conclusion, just be sure to do your research on the inlet you will be entering and what customs office you will be reporting to. I hope that everything I’ve said here is helpful to you if you are checking back in after your wonderful trip to the Bahamas. This year, we will be trying out the new ROAM app. I’ve read that it’s a simple and easy process and can’t wait to try it out! We’ll save the money we would spend on an UBER ride to check in and go to a nice restaurant when we return! 🙂