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Boca Marina Yacht Club - Boating Resources - US CBP Local Boater Option

Home » Boating & Weather » US Customs & Border Patrol - Local Boater Option


Prior to 9/11/2001, traveling to the Bahamas on your boat or as the passenger of a private pleasure boat was relatively painless. After 9/11, procedures and restrictions put in place by the newly created Department of Homeland Security made it so cumbersome, it was just easier to fly. In November 2006, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) streamlined the process for international boaters returning from foreign waters. The revised program is known as the Local Boater Option (LBO). Enrollment is voluntary, only needs to be done once, is relatively easy to use and is free of charge. On May 23, 2010, CBP announced took another step towards improving the LBO called the Small Vessel Reporting System (SVRS). The SVRS is a web-based system that allows file your "float plan" online. You can also use the SVRS to enroll in the LBO.

Who is eligible?
All US citizens and lawful permanent residents of the US (14 years of age and older) are eligible to participate in the LBO. The program is for boaters, not boats, though the master of a vessel will be required to provide vessel information, such as the vessel’s name, color, registration number, size, type and manufacturer.
Note: Children under 14 may be included in their parents’ BR#, and should use that number when entering the US.

Who is NOT eligible?
Non-US citizens, paying passengers (such as those on a day charter boat), and paid crew on cargo boats are not eligible to use the LBO. The LBO is only available to private, non-commercial boaters who are US citizens and legal permanent residents (green card holders).

Why should I sign up?
Signing up for the LBO will facilitate your entry into the US from a foreign country. Once you have obtained a BR#, your entry into the US can be processed over the phone by CBP. Agriculture requirements can be satisfied over the phone, as well. If everyone onboard an incoming vessel has a BR#, then the vessel and passengers will not have to report for inspection in-person, unless requested to do so by CBP.

Enrollment in the LBO/SVRS:

  • Make sure you have a valid US government-issued ID, such as a US passport, or US military ID.
  • Visit the Small Vessel Reporting System website. You can apply online or print and complete the enrollment form to bring with you on your appointment.
    Note: passengers need only complete the top half of the form, while boat owners/captains must complete the entire form.
  • Call your local Port of Entry office to schedule an appointment:
    West Palm Beach · (561) 848-6922 · M-F 8am-4pm
    1 East 11th Street, Riviera Beach, FL
    Port Everglades · (954) 761-2049 · M-F 8am-4pm
    1800 Eller Drive, Fort Lauderdale, FL
    Miami Seaport · (305) 536-4758, ext. 5 · M-F 7am-3pm
    903 South America Way, Terminal H, Miami, FL

  • Attend your scheduled appointment and bring your valid US government-issued ID.

  • Be patient. Soon you'll be given a Boater Registration number (BR#) and you'll be ready to set sail.

  • Additionally, you must obtain a CBP decal if your private vessel is thirty feet or greater in length. This makes no logical sense, is probably double taxation, and is just overall lame, IMO!


Using the SVRS when traveling:

Note: This process should be completed by the master (captain) of the vessel after having been at any foreign port or place or after having contact with any hovering vessel:

  • Prior to departure, file your "float plan" using the SVRS website. When using the SVRS website, the terms "BR#", "LBO" and "SVRS" appear to be interchangeable.

  • Make sure you have your three flags (US flag, quarantine flag, and Bahamian courtesy flag) onboard.

  • Upon entering protected foreign waters (port of entry / inlet), fly your yellow quarantine flag.

  • Dock or tie-off your boat, but do not unload passengers or gear.

  • Report to a customs & immigration facility. Have ready vessel's documentation, passports for all persons aboard, pet permit, and firearms information (make, model, serial number and exact ammunition count). Do not bring firearm ashore!

  • Pay for your cruising permit. You may optionally purchase a fishing license.

  • Return to your vessel. Take down your Quarantine flag and hoist your Bahamian courtesy flag (cruising pennant).

  • Upon returning protected U.S. waters, you should fly your yellow "quarantine flag".

  • Dock your boat but do not unload passengers or gear.

  • Call the CBP at 305-984-1418 if you filed a float plan. Call 800-432-1216 or 800-451-0393 if you did not file a float plan.

  • In the event you get voice mail, leave a message including your float plan number, arrival location, name and call-back phone number. Wait for a return phone call -- clearance is not granted until contact is made with a CBP officer.

  • Let the CBP representative know your passengers are enrolled in the Local Boater Option.

  • Give the CBP representative the names and BR# for each passenger.

  • If you have a CBP decal (boats 30'+ in length), offer the decal number to the CBP representative as well.

  • The CBP representative will clear your boat and passengers.

  • You may now take down your quarantine flag and offload your passengers and gear.


Links to CBP articles related to the Local Boater Option:


This page was last updated on Sep-1, 2011. Please notify the webmaster of any incorrect information or broken links on this page.


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