U.S. cruising licenses (also known as cruising permits) exempt pleasure yachts of certain countries from having to undergo formal entry and clearance procedures at all but the first port of entry for the yacht in the United States.
In certain states, for example Florida, a yacht is not usually deemed to be imported into that state if qualifying for and legitimately operating under a cruising licence and it is therefore generally not subject to state use tax.
There are two fundamental criteria for a yacht to qualify for a cruising licence:
|St Kitts & Nevis
|St Vincent & Gren.
*Great Britain includes its Crown Dependencies such as the Cayman Islands and the British Virgin Islands (BVI)
There are two fundamental restrictions for a yacht to operating under a cruising licence:
The cruising licence is valid for a maximum of one year.
Cruising licenses are obtainable from the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Port Director at the first port of arrival in the United States. The CBP information centre states the following with regard to the procedures for arriving in the United States:
“….The master of a pleasure boat must report to U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) immediately upon arriving into the United States from a foreign port… ……Cruising licenses exempt pleasure boats of certain countries from having to undergo formal entry and clearance procedures and can be obtained from the CBP Port Direct at the first port of arrival in the United States.”
The CBP information centre states the following with regard to the procedures for departing the United States:
“If traveling via boat with a cruising permit, do I have to report our departure to Customs and Border Protection (CBP) when leaving the U.S.? Yes, pleasure boats from foreign countries must obtain clearance before leaving a port or place in the U.S. and proceeding either to a foreign port or place or going to another port or place in the U.S.”
A new cruising license will only be issued if following two conditions have been met:
CBP will want to see foreign clearance paperwork as evidence that the vessel is arriving from a foreign location.
It is advisable for yacht owners to plan their cruising schedule carefully so that the mandatory 15-day period does not fall in the middle of a planned stay in U.S. waters. It is also sensible for yacht owners to surrender their cruising license to a CBP Officer when leaving U.S. waters for a foreign port so that a new licence can be applied for on re-entry to the U.S. It should be noted that traveling outside of U.S. waters while a cruising license is in effect does not fulfill the aforementioned 15-day requirement.
Using its independence and experience of ownership, registration and documentation of yachts, worldwide Oceanskies has put together a non-U.S. corporate ownership and registration package which can assist with the operation of yachts under the cruising licence system whilst in U.S. waters. The key stages of the Oceanskies offshore structure are as follows:
For further information please do not hesitate to contact us either by using the message form below or by email to: [email protected]
This guide is for general information purposes only and does not constitute any kind of fiscal, legal, tax, importation or immigration advice. Further information the concerning cruising licence and arrival formalities for foreign yachts entering the United States can and should be obtained directly from the CBP prior to arrival in U.S. waters. A copy of the Code of Federal Regulations containing the rules applicable to the issue of cruising licences can be downloaded here: