Small Vessel Reporting System Local Boater Option

gbowdish - February 23, 2012

US Customs and Border Patrol has made it easier to enter US waters from Canada. The program is open to both US and Canadian citizens. You must apply on line at and you must still call in by phone upon arrival in the US. The program requires you to file a float plan on line as well, which offers a tremendous safety benefit. For more information see the following website:

dreinken's picture

We have used theLBO on our return to the US fron the Bahamas and it worked great. We have tried twice in the last two years ( at Cape Vincent last year and Sault St.Marie this year and both times the customs people did not have a clus about the LBO. They took our LBO numbers but their system could not use them.

Barb and Dave Reinken
MV Hallelujah

J.E. Fordyce's picture

We registered for the LBO online last yeaar, but have yet to use it. In a conversation with a customs agent in Sandusky in august 2011, he expressed frustration with the new system and indicated that it does not accommodate the cruising pattern in the Great Lakes, where boaters might go back and forth several times in a day. He said to just use the BR numbers we got years ago from Port Huron and we would be fine anywhere. Not sure if this applies in folorida, but we;ll see. The good news is that they appear to have extended the scope of the LBO to include Canadians with Nexus cards.

Owen McCall's picture

The only itinerary one need file is that of simply re-entering the US, not your whole cruise circuit. It must be filed during the 24 hr. period prior to leaving the last foreign port to re-enter US waters and specify this last foreign port and where and when you plan US landfall. We used it returning from Canada a week ago with no problems.

Lynne Taylor's picture

Having attempted to register for this in Buffalo, New York we found that US customs and Immigration is unaware of the SVRS. they added a boating number to our Nexus. seems its only used in certain areas.

Bill Rohde's picture

I agree, Gail, that this new system promises significant advantages. However, in our limited experience trying to use it we've found that it needs a lot of tuning to be useful.

The website is supposedly tuned for IE, but it crashed our IE multiple times before I called the US Customs help desk, who told me it doesn't work with IE - use FireFox. We found the user interface far from intuitive. Every individual on board needs their own LBO. If anyone on board doesn't have an LBO then you still have to appear in person. The requirement to file an itinerary doesn't seem to recognize the realities of cruising - I'm told by the customs folks here in the Virgin Islands that any change in itinerary from that filed before you leave the US will necessitate appearing at a customs office in person (we were required to do so in the USVI after returning from the BVI). The customs agent we worked with was himself very frustrated with the system, and recommended that any boater having a LBO under the prior system simply renew that old-version LBO rather than registering on-line for a new one.

No doubt these kinks will be worked out, hopefully before the northern cruising season begins, but for those of us trying to use the new system down south this year it appears it's not sufficiently in place for practical cruising use as yet.