San Diego Harbor Customs Clearance
32°39.10'N - 117°13'.50'W
San Diego, California USA

What to Expect
If San Diego is your first port of call after an international voyage, you must clear Customs which includes U. S. Customs
and Border Patrol, Agriculture, Immigration and Public Health inspections. 
Recreational vessels under 100' length may clear Customs at the Shelter Island Harbor Police Dock, located at the south end of Shelter Island just as you enter from the main channel.  It is posted "Pleasure Craft Clearance".  This is also the home of the Harbor Police. Be aware as you cross over to the side channel that there are shallow and shoals at the tip of Shelter Island.  It is posted.  Do heed the warning! 

Customs at Shelter Island
This is what you can expect when you clear customs.  A lot of you are familiar with this when returning from the Newport-Ensenada Race.  Only this time, you get to do it all by yourself.  Customs clearance inspections are free of charge, Monday - Saturday, 0800 to 1700. 

Vessels under 130 Feet
Vessels under 130 feet may report directly to the Shelter Island Harbor Police Dock. There are no requirements for vessels under 130 feet to contact the Harbor Police prior to arrival. This requirement is only for vessels over 130 feet in length.

IMMEDIATELY go to the dock phone and call *82 to begin the check in process.  After hours, Sunday and holidays are at a charge and you must call for an inspection.  The number in San Diego is 619-557-6758.  Office hours are 8:00 -5:00 PM and they are located at 610 Ash Street, San Diego, CA 92188.  They're fax is  619-557-6357 and Rex Applegate is the director. 

Vessels over 130 Feet
Contact the Harbor Police Communications Center at (619) 686-6272 eight hours prior to arrival and request dock space for a vessel over 130 feet. There may be occasions when the Harbor Police will direct the vessel to anchor to await space accommodations at the Harbor Police Dock. Dock length is 235-feet and Masters should be aware the water depth adjacent to this dock is 14-feet at MLLW. There are no vertical height restrictions.

Note: Upon arrival at the Shelter Island Harbor Police Dock, immediately contact CBP by dialing *82 on the telephone located at the top of the dock brow.

If there is room, find yourself a space at the dock.  If not, circle, most inspections take less than a half hour although there is a temporary mooring/quarantine buoy available if you arrive in the wee hours and must wait.  After you have docked, the skipper should go up to the Harbor Police Dispatch Center located at the top of the dock and request an inspection.  You should have your vessel's papers, birth certificates for all crew and your last port of call information.
A form will be filled in regarding the vessel and the crew and the dispatcher will contact the Customs office and request a customs agent if one is not on site.

You and your entire crew must stay aboard until cleared by Customs.

Foreign nationals should identify themselves to make arrangements for entry into the country with the Immigration and Nationalization Service. The dispatcher will notify them.

Customs Downtown Commercial vessels and  recreational vessels (greater than 100 feet) must clear Customs at the west end "B" Street Pier, San Diego.

The procedure here is pretty much the same as at Shelter Island except that you are docked alongside the quay and must request clearance

The following is an excerpt from the US CBP site.  See them for additional information.

Reporting & Entry 
How do I report?
Arrivals may be made at any of the locations below. Call the phone number below in advance of your arrival to receive specific reporting instructions:
Phone in Arrivals: (619) 685-4304.

What information do I have to have when I call?
All Vessel masters must phone in their arrival and have the following information available:

Reporting Locations
Shelter Island Harbor Police Dock:
(Vessels up to 235 feet)
1401 Shelter Island Drive
San Diego CA.
Hours of operation: 24 Hours Monday – Sunday

Dana Launch Ramp Public Dock: 1800 Dana Landing Road, San Diego, CA 92109. NOTE: Only for use by vessels with less than a 42- foot vertical clearance and up to 50 feet in length. Hours of operation: 24 Hours Monday – Sunday.

Boaters choosing to arrive at the Dana Launch Ramp Public Dock must be able to pass under the Ventura Bridge, which has a 42-foot vertical clearance at Mean Low Tide, 0.0 feet and must be less than 50 feet in length. A fuel dock, market and pay phone are located near the dock.

Note: Upon arrival at the Dana launch Ramp Public Dock you must immediately notify Customs and Border Protection by calling (619) 685-4304.

Vessels unable to clear the bridge must report to the Harbor Police Dock, 1401 Shelter Island Drive, San Diego, CA 92106.


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