Canada Border Services Agency
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Fact Sheet

May 2012

Reporting Requirements for Private Boaters

As warm weather returns, the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) wishes to remind all private boaters how to report as required by Canadian law, upon entering Canadian waters.

In recognition of the importance of travel and leisure to Canadian communities, the CBSA takes a practical approach to the application of the law. While there are both low-risk and higher-risk private vessels travelling through Canadian waters; we know the majority of private boaters just want to enjoy Canada's coasts and inland waterways.

To make the most of your time on the waters we recommend you:

  • Never leave home without acceptable identification.

    It is the responsibility of the owner/operator to ensure all those onboard have proper identification.  A valid Canadian passport, while not mandatory, is the preferred piece of identification for Canadians entering Canada. Other acceptable identification includes an enhanced driver's licence, Permanent Resident Card, or a Secure Certificate of Indian Status, as well as a NEXUS or Free and Secure Trade card for Canadian citizens.

  • Know what you've got onboard.

    It's not a problem to bring the food and drinks you need for your trip. When law enforcement authorities patrol Canadian waters, they're looking for signs of higher-risk activities, which could include smuggling goods into or out of the country. Canadian law requires that travellers report to the CBSA when carrying CAN$10,000 or more, or its equivalent in a foreign currency across the border. We recommend boaters carry only what they need for their trip and leave the rest at home.

How to report your entry to Canada:

  • Planning to "land" your vessel on Canadian soil or did you leave Canadian waters and land on U.S. soil?
    • All private boaters who intend to land on Canadian soil, or who have departed Canadian waters and landed on U.S. soil, are required to report to a CBSA designated marine reporting site. Upon arrival at a CBSA designated marine reporting site, call the Telephone Reporting Centre (TRC) at 1-888-226-7277 from the phone provided to obtain clearance.
  • Not planning to "land" your vessel or did you leave Canadian waters but did not land on U.S. soil?
    • You still need to report to the CBSA. Certain private boaters may contact the CBSA by calling the TRC at 1-888-226-7277 from their cellular telephones upon arrival in Canadian waters. This includes:
      • Canadian citizens and permanent residents who have not landed on U.S. soil; and
      • U.S. citizens and permanent residents who do not plan on landing on Canadian soil.
    • Private boaters that are strictly weaving in and out of Canadian waters but are not in transit, are required to call the TRC only once at the time of their initial entry into Canadian waters. If this activity changes, i.e., the vessel docks in Canada or takes on new persons or goods while in foreign waters, the boaters must report to a CBSA designated marine reporting site and call the TRC to obtain clearance.
    • All other private boaters, including those without cellular telephones, must proceed to a CBSA designated marine telephone reporting site and place a call to the TRC to obtain CBSA clearance. This includes all vessels carrying individuals who are not Canadian or U.S. citizens or permanent residents.

What to expect when calling the Telephone Reporting Centre (TRC):

When private boaters call the TRC, they will be asked a series of questions about their trip, any passengers onboard the vessel, and their declarations. After recording the information provided, the CBSA officer at the TRC will determine whether further verification or examination is required. If no examination is necessary, the CBSA officer will provide a report number to the owner/operator. The receipt of this report number will constitute release and approval for entry into Canada.

If a verification or examination is required, the CBSA officer will advise the owner/operator to ensure all goods and passengers remain onboard until the verification team arrives. A report number will be provided following the verification process. Owners/operators should keep their report number available during their entire stay in Canada.

Looking to make the most of your time on the water this summer?

The CBSA's Trusted Traveller programs streamline the border clearance process for pre-approved, low-risk travellers. NEXUS and CANPASS members can provide advance notice to the CBSA at least 30 minutes (minimum) and up to four hours (maximum) prior to arriving in Canada by calling the NEXUS Telephone Reporting Centre at 1-866-99-NEXUS (1-866-996-3987) and 1-888-CANPASS (1-888-226-7277) respectively.  For more information on how to apply to NEXUS and CANPASS, as well as the full requirements and benefits of the programs, visit our NEXUS or CANPASS Web pages.

Organizing a local boating event?

Are you organizing a local boating event or fishing derby and wonder how reporting requirements may impact your participants? Contact the TRC as soon as possible at 1-888-226-7277 to discuss clearance procedures for your participants. Ask for the TRC superintendent who can assist you and your participants in complying with reporting regulations, so you can enjoy your time on the water this summer.

Failure to report

While Canadian authorities do not inspect every vessel entering Canadian waters, private boaters are required to obey the law and comply with reporting requirements. Canadian law enforcement authorities do patrol Canada's coasts and inland waterways and have the authority to stop any vessel having recently entered Canadian waters.

Failure to report may result in detention, seizure or forfeiture of the vessel and/or monetary penalties. The minimum fine for failing to report to the CBSA upon entry to Canada is CAN$1,000.

Following enforcement action, all persons have the right to appeal the penalty. An independent third party reviews the elements of the seizure/action and will render a decision. To appeal a seizure or penalty, individuals must send a written submission to the Recourse Directorate of the CBSA. For more information on appeals, visit the CBSA Web site at: The appeal must be filed within 90 days of the penalty action.