BoatU.S. testifies to simplify customs process

ALEXANDRIA, Va. – Congressional legislation that would make it simpler for recreational boaters returning from outside the U.S. to move through federal customs procedures was strongly supported by BoatU.S. in testimony before Congress last week, the association said in a release yesterday.

The legislation would allow returning boaters to report in using a videophone at a number of Florida marinas and public docks rather then being forced to travel to out-of-the-way federal customs and immigration offices.

BoatU.S. President Jim Ellis testified before the House Homeland Security subcommittee in favor of H.R. 1509, the Recreational Boater Streamlined Inspection Act, introduced by Florida Congressmen Mark Foley (R-Fla.) and Clay Shaw (R-Fla.).

“This legislation offers a practical way for recreational boaters to report back to customs officials after visiting the Bahamas, as well as other Caribbean islands,” Ellis said in his testimony. “Upon returning to the U.S., boaters are currently required to find transportation and potentially travel many miles to report to a government office in person. These federal offices are often located in difficult to find out-of-the way places or not open on Sundays when many boaters return.

“The current method of enforcing these regulations is inconvenient, inadequate and inefficient. Law abiding American citizens are turned into scofflaws by a system that has not changed to meet the needs of the times.”

Ellis said the use of modern technology could readily meet the needs of the government’s customs and immigration services. Presently, videophones are used extensively in the Great Lakes for boaters returning from Canada, BoatU.S. reported.

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