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CBP greets international boaters with app

Customs and Border Protection will close its online boating arrival portal on Sept. 5 in favor of a new mobile app that it says is now available in 15 coastal states and two U.S. territories.

After that date, CBP said in an Aug. 31 statement, it will no longer accept registration from frequent pleasure boat operators and passengers traveling into the U.S. from foreign ports using its online Small Vessel Reporting System (SVRS) portal.

The SVRS will be taken out of service in favor of the agency's free Reporting Offsite Arrival-Mobile (ROAM) app.

CBP requires all pleasure boaters that cross into the U.S. from a foreign port report their arrival immediately. SVRS addressed that need by putting the process online.

For the last few months, CBP has been working to expand ROAM's coverage across coastal areas of the U.S., including large interior lakes located near the Northern border that see substantial pleasure boating trips crisscrossing international boundaries. With the app, registration can be done using a smartphone or tablet.

The agency said it hopes the app will be useful for small boat operators and their passengers, as well as hikers and other outdoors enthusiasts who enter U.S. waters and territories in their travels in border regions.

The app works on LTE- or Wi-Fi-capable mobile devices and allows CBP agents to initiate a video chat after travelers set up a login and profile.

CBP said the registration numbers used by boaters under the SVRS will remain valid for entry with ROAM.

The ROAM app has also replaced the agency's legacy Outlying Area Reporting Stations (OARS), which uses 1990s era, one-way video transmission capabilities and speakerphones at remote marinas and docks, a CBP spokesperson told FCW in an email.

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