Tariff Laws Affecting Boats and Boating

Pursuant to 19 USCA § 1581(a), customs officers are authorized to board “any vessel” at any place in the United States or within customs waters or certain other areas to:

  • examine the vessel’s manifest and other papers;
  • search the vessel; and
  • hail and stop such vessel and use all necessary force to compel compliance.

Moreover, officers of the Treasury Department or other persons authorized are statutorily empowered to hail, stop, and board “any vessel” in the enforcement of the navigation laws and to arrest any person violating such laws.  The right of stoppageapplies to pleasure yachts as well.

19 USCA § 1441(4) provides that United States documented recreational vessels and undocumented American pleasure vessels are not required to make entry at the customhouse. However, the master of a vessel or any other person on board of such vessel which has on board any article required by law to be entered must report such article to the Customs Service, if :

  • not engaged in trade nor violating the customs or navigation laws; and
  • not have visited any hovering vessel.

However, certain yachts licensed as pleasure vessels under federal law are exempted from clearing at the customhouse.  Pursuant to 46 USCA § 12109(b), even though recreational and pleasure vessels may proceed between a port of the United States and a port of a foreign country without entering or clearing with the Customs Service, such vessels must:

  • comply with all customs requirements for reporting arrival, and ;
  • make all persons aboard subject to all applicable customs regulations.

Inside Tariff Laws Affecting Boats and Boating