The United States Customs and Border Protection agency has released a mobile application for pleasure boaters to report re-entry into the United States.
The app, called ROAM for Reporting Offsite Arrival-Mobile, allows customs officers to process boaters’ information and initiate a video chat to ask questions.
Previously, boaters visiting foreign ports were required to either visit a customs facility or call a 1-800 number to report their arrival and declare items they brought along with them. The process could take hours.
“No matter how many officers we had answering the phones, if you’ve got thousands of boaters coming in on a weekend, you’re going to wait,” said ROAM’s program manager Chris White.
The long wait time often discouraged people from reporting their arrival to U.S. ports. Sixty-two thousand Floridians are registered with the CBP program Local Boater Option, which allows boaters to avoid in-person inspections upon arriving from a foreign port and about 15,000 people called in to report re-entry last fiscal year.
“We were aware that many people just give up while they call, nobody wants to wait three hours to speak to a customs agent,” said CBP Miami Seaport Chief Joseph Lamoureux. The agency expects the number of people reporting re-entry to at least double due to the app.
Testing for the app took place along the country’s northern border for the last three months.
“We’ve gone from somewhere around the Canadian border from an hour wait to about a minute,” said White. “It’s really been embraced in the boating community and makes life easier for our officers as well.”
The application is available for free and requires users to create a profile at login.gov. Users can then add travel plans and traveler information.
CBP plans to release the ROAM application in the U.S. Virgin Islands next month.