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Reporting requirements for private boat operators

This section summarizes important information for private boaters who are navigating Canadian waters or seeking to enter Canada by boat.

Reporting exceptions

Foreign national boaters

If you enter Canadian waters, you are not required to present yourself and report your goods to the CBSA if you:

  • do not land on Canadian soil and do not anchor, moor or make contact with another conveyance while in Canadian waters
  • do not embark or disembark people or goods in Canada

If at any point during the transit you come to port, anchor, moor or make contact with another vessel, you must report to the CBSA immediately

You may do so by calling the TRC using a cell phone from your location in Canadian waters if you meet all of the other conditions for an exception.

You must report restricted and prohibited goods on board, such as firearms, to the CBSA and obtain the necessary permits (if required), even if you meet the conditions for a reporting exception. Undeclared restricted and prohibited goods found on board will be seized and you could face criminal charges.

Under Canadian immigration law, foreign nationals, including passengers on board commercial passenger conveyances, are required to always carry proper identification and a valid visa (if necessary) for entry in Canada.

For more information, visit the Reporting exceptions page.

Canadian boaters returning to Canada

If you leave and re-enter Canadian waters, you are not required to present yourself and report your goods to the CBSA if you:

  • did not land outside Canada and did not anchor, moor or make contact with another conveyance while outside of Canadian waters
  • did not embark or disembark any people or goods while outside Canada

Reporting options

As the operator of a boat entering Canadian waters with the intent to disembark, it is your responsibility to report to the CBSA.

For vessels carrying fewer than 30 passengers, there are two ways to report in order to enter Canada at an open designated marine reporting site.

Telephone Reporting Centre

At a telephone reporting site, follow the instructions posted on location to contact the CBSA’s Telephone Reporting Centre and request clearance to enter Canada.

Toll free: 1-888-226-7277

Only the operator may leave the boat to place the call. Everyone else must remain onboard until the CBSA authorizes entry.

Direct reporting sites for marine private vessels

Report directly in-person at one of the open designated marine reporting site locations, staffed by the CBSA.

Passenger groups of 30 or more entering Canadian waters, you cannot be cleared by telephone upon arrival. You may seek clearance at a direct reporting site for marine reporting site.

You must notify the CBSA at least 72 hours before you arrive in Canadian waters in writing, including:

  • the details of your arrival
  • a request for CBSA clearance

For more information, contact:

Border Information Service (BIS):
Toll free: 1-800-461-9999

Making a report

As the operator of the boat, only you can report to the CBSA. You will need to report:

  • the reasons for your trip
  • passenger information
  • goods to declare

Information to provide: Canadian citizens, permanent residents and persons registered under the Indian Act

You must present the following to the border services officer upon entry:

Information to provide: Foreign nationals

You must present the following to the border services officer upon entry:

  • full name, date of birth and citizenship
  • length and purpose of the stay in Canada
  • destination
  • acceptable identification
  • visa information, if applicable

Declarations for all passengers

All passengers must declare:

  • any goods being brought into Canada, including restricted and prohibited goods
  • currency or monetary instruments totaling CAN$10,000 or more.

Restricted and prohibited goods include, but are not limited to:

  • firearms and weapons
  • food, plants, animals and related products
  • explosives
  • fireworks
  • ammunition
  • cannabis (marijuana) in any form – without a permit, including any oils that do not contain THC or cannabidiol

Undeclared restricted and prohibited goods found on board will be seized and you could face criminal charges.

Note: Residents of Canada must also provide details about any repairs or modifications made to goods, including the boat, while these items were outside Canada.

More information

CBSA report number and secondary inspection

A border services officer will determine whether further verification or examination is needed. If you do not need further verification, the officer will provide you with a report number. If a secondary inspection is necessary, the officer will advise you to remain at the inspection site, or to go to one if you are reporting from the water, and to ensure that all goods and passengers remain onboard. The border services officer who conducts the secondary inspection will provide you with the report number.

Failure to report

The CBSA and its law enforcement partners are actively monitoring Canadian waterways. Failure to report to the CBSA may result in detention, seizure or forfeiture of your boat and/or monetary penalties.

If you fail to report, even if your purpose is non-discretionary (non-optional) such as to refuel, you may face severe penalties. The minimum fine for failing to report to the CBSA upon entry to Canada is CAN$1,000.

Failure to report may also affect your immigration admissibility and ability to re-enter Canada in the future.

Foreign nationals who provide false information could also be denied entry and be banned from returning to Canada.

Appealing a seizure or penalty

You have the right to appeal a seizure or penalty. To do so, you must send a written submission to the Recourse Directorate of the CBSA. To be considered, your appeal must be filed within 90 days of the seizure or penalty.

For more information on appeals, visit Appeals and reviews.

Faster processing with the NEXUS program

All travellers, including NEXUS members, are subject to strict screening and security measures by the CBSA’s border services officers. NEXUS members are required to call the NEXUS marine reporting number at least 30 minutes (minimum) and up to four hours in advance of their arrival in Canada to provide advance notification of arrival and to allow for expedited processing. All persons on board must be NEXUS members in order to take advantage of NEXUS reporting procedures. For more information on NEXUS reporting procedures visit NEXUS - Marine.

Boating events

International/cross-border boating events are coordinated by the Special Events section at the CBSA Headquarters and the local CBSA office where the event is to take place. If you are organizing a boating event, you must contact the local CBSA office in your area as far in advance as possible and request that arrangements be made to accommodate the clearance of participants in your event. You may be required to provide details of your event and information about its participants to help with CBSA processing.

Contact information

Telephone Reporting Centre telephone reporting line:
Toll free: 1-888-226-7277

NEXUS telephone reporting line:
Toll free: 1-866-99-NEXUS (1-866-996-3987)

Border Information Services:
Toll free: 1-800-461-9999

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