A Kiwi couple's cruising adventures on America's Great Loop and around the coast of New Zealand

Saturday, 24 March 2012

Previous hurdle

In a post back in July last year (regulations, regulations, regulations) I spoke about the need for an annual “user decal” that you buy from the Dept of Homeland Security (DHS). Since they are valid from January to December, I waited until the new year before applying for ours. We could have waited until we arrived but it would have had a hard time catching up with us as the DHS will only mail it to you and you need it when you get your cruising permit. Since you have to pay for the full year anyway, there was no point in delaying and they mail it to New Zealand for free! This way we know we have it and will take it with us when we go.

To find out what the Decal is all about you can go to: http://www.cbp.gov/xp/cgov/travel/pleasure_boats/user_fee/user_fee_decal.xml

You get one by going to the DHS “Decal and Transponder Online Application System (DTOPS)” as follows:

  1. Go to the website https://dtops.cbp.dhs.gov/. Apply to open an account. When the application is complete, you are given an account number which is also emailed to you.

  1. When you have your account number, go back to the website and place an order for the Decal. You will get an email confirming your order.

  1. About a week later, you will get an email saying your order has been fulfilled.

  1. About a week after that, you get the decal in the mail (and that was in New Zealand!), just like this:
It looks complicated (most Government websites seem to be like that and it really isn’t), but consider that the system has to cope with all private aircraft, boats over 30 feet and commercial trucks, it is kind of understandable.

So, foreign flagged vessel owners….don’t despair. It ain’t that hard and its best to do it before you leave.

80 DTG (days to go)

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