Important Information
for Yacht Owners and Brokers


We know boats! Mark Johnson has over 15 years of sailing experience in the San Juan Islands of Washington State and the Gulf Islands of British Columbia. We know first hand what it takes to clear your boat most efficiently and can offer advice whether you are importing a boat for personal or commercial use. We can even direct you to a delivery skipper or to marine parts and service centers throughout the Puget Sound.

Our website contains information and links to all aspects of importing a boat into the U.S. We have additional information specific to own region, the Pacific Northwest, including ports of entry, tide tables and weather.

We are your best resource for information on importing boats into the U.S.


Formal Entry Required

U.S. Customs & Border Protection may require a formal consumption entry for any merchandise valued over $2,000 if deemed necessary for (a) import admissibility enforcement purposes, (b) revenue protection, or (c) the efficient conduct of Customs business.  (19CFR143.22). 

It is the standard practice of CBP offices in the Pacific Northwest to require that a formal entry be filed on all boats valued over $2000 imported into the U.S., whether imported for personal or commercial use.

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Boats Imported For Sale, Lease or Charter

The U.S. Customs regulations require that boats imported for sale, lease or charter be imported under a consumption entry and any applicable duties and taxes paid.

Any offer to sell or charter (for example, a listing with yacht brokers or agents) is considered evidence that the vessel was brought in for sale or charter to a resident or, if made within one year of entry of a vessel brought in free of duty as personal effects, that the vessel no longer is for the personal use of the non-resident. (19CFR4.94)

Consequences of Non-Compliance:

If the vessel is sold or chartered, or offered for sale or charter without the owner first having filed a consumption entry and having paid duty, the vessel may be subject to seizure or to a monetary claim equal to the value of the vessel  (19CFR4.94(d)(1)&(2)). 

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Liability for Duties on Re-Importation

Dutiable merchandise imported and afterwards exported, even though duty thereon may have been paid on the first importation, is liable to duty on every subsequent importation into the Customs territory of the United States (19CFR141.2)  

Therefore, a foreign manufactured boat imported into the U.S. may be subject to duty, even if that boat was previously registered in the U.S.

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Cruising Licenses For Pleasure Vessels Information

General Cruising License

  • See 19CFR4.94 “Yacht Privileges and Obligations” — Click Here

Successive Cruising Licenses

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Additional Information for Non-U.S. Residents

A foreign documented pleasure vessel which is kept in the United States by a nonresident thereof is not subject to United States Customs duty, regardless of whether it has a cruising license, provided, of course, that the vessel is not sold or chartered, or offered for sale or charter, to a resident of the United States (CSD 3130-006A).

CSD 3130-006A is Available for Download — Download Now

A foreign-built yacht berthed in the United States may be listed for sale with the stipulation that it is for sale only to a non-resident of the United States. Such a restricted offer for sale would not subject the yacht to duty (CSD 85-17 and CSD83-25).

CSD 85-17 is Available for Download — Download Now
CSD 83-25 is Available for Download — Download Now

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Temporary Import Bonds

A temporary import bond, or TIB, is a temporary importation of goods under bond, not imported for sale or sale on approval, without the payment of duty and with the intent to export or destroy the goods within a certain period of time not to exceed three years from the date of importation. 

Due to the restrictions on TIB’s, boats entered into the U.S. to be offered for sale or listed for sale with a yacht broker would not be eligible for a TIB and would have to be entered under a consumption entry with the payment of duty.

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Deferral of Duty on Large Yachts Imported for Sale

An otherwise dutiable vessel used primarily for recreation or pleasure and exceeding 79 feet in length that has been previously sold by a manufacturer or dealer to a retail consumer and that is imported with the intention to offer for sale at a boat show in the United States may qualify at the time of importation for a deferral of entry completion and deposit of duty (19CFR4.94a).  

For More Information — Click Here

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U.S Customs Pleasure Boat Reporting Requirements

General Information — Click Here

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Pleasure Boat Requirements by Location

For General Information — Click Here
For Washington State — Click Here
For All Other States — Click Here

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Customs Ports of Entry – Pacific Northwest



Entry Processing?




Note: Entries processed
by Bellingham



4241 Mitchell Way                                   
Suite 13
Bellingham, WA  98226
Phone: (360) 734-3520
FAX:  (360) 734-7678



Pt. Roberts

50 Tyee Drive
Pt. Roberts, WA  98281
Phone: (360) 945-2314
FAX:  (360) 945-0908




1019 Q Ave., Suite F
PO Box 439
Anacortes, WA  98221
Phone:  (360) 293-2331
FAX:  (360) 293-4422



Roche Harbor

195 Rueben Memorial Drive
Roche Harbor, WA  98250
Phone: (360) 378-2080

Note: Entries processed
by Friday Harbor


Friday Harbor

217 Front Street North
PO Box 1907
Friday Harbor, WA 98250
Phone: (360) 378-2080
FAX:  (360) 378-5503



Port Angeles

138 West First Street
Suite 204
Port Angeles, WA  98362
Phone: (360) 457-4311



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U.S. Coast Guard Electronic Notice of Arrival and Departure — eNOAD

To Download an eNOAD Checklist – Click Here

For More Information — Click Here

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Harmonized Tariff Schedule & NAFTA Information

Chapter 89 HTS — Ships, Boats, Floating Structures — Download Now

NAFTA Tariff Shift Rule for Chapter 89 — Download Now

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Important U.S. Customs Regulations Regarding the Import of Boats

Boats and Vessels:
The word vessel includes every description of water craft or other contrivance used or capable of being used as a means of transportation on water, but does not include aircraft.”  (19CFR4.0(a)). 

Arrival and Entry of Vessels:
The phrase “arrival of a vessel” means that time when the vessel first comes to rest, whether at anchor or at a dock, in any harbor within the Customs territory of the U.S.” (19CFR4.0(f)) 

Report of Arrival of Vessels is Required:
“Upon arrival in any port or place within the U.S., including…the U.S. Virgin Islands, of any vessel from a foreign port or place, any foreign vessel from a port or place within the U.S., or any vessel of the U.S. carrying bonded merchandise or foreign merchandise for which entry has not been made, the master of the vessel shall immediately report that arrival to the nearest Customs facility or other location designated by the port director.”  (19CFR4.2(a)). 

Vessels Required to Enter; Place of Entry:
Unless specifically excepted by law, within 48 hours after the arrival at any port or place in the United States; the following vessels are required to make formal entry:

  • Any vessel from a foreign port or place;
  • Any foreign vessel from a domestic port;
  • Any vessel of the U.S. having merchandise on board which is being transported in-bond …; or foreign merchandise for which entry has not been made; or
  • Any vessel which has visited a hovering vessel as defined in 19USC1401(k), or has delivered or received merchandise or passengers while outside the territorial sea.  (19CFR4.3)

Penalties for Violation of Vessel Reporting and Entry Requirements:
“Violation of the arrival or entry reporting requirements provided for in this part may result in the master being liable for certain civil and criminal penalties…

The penalties include civil monetary penalties for failure to report arrival or make entry, and any conveyance used in connection with such violation is subject to seizure and forfeiture.”   (19CFR4.3a)

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Other Useful Information

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