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Editorial: Canada wisely loosens check-in rules for boaters

Removing an unnecessary layer of bureaucracy between two nations makes for happier neighbors. Just look to Canada, where officials have wisely made it a lot easier for American boaters.

Where rules once allowed impounding of vessels and equipment and fines for Americans who inadvertently strayed into Canadian waters and then failed to report in, there is a new, friendlier policy.
As reported in The News, Canadian law now allows boaters to enter Canadian waters without first registering with that country’s customs officials.

The new law does not relieve boaters from all of the cross-border requirements that go along with nautical life. Docking or stepping onto Canadian soil still requires the usual check-in with customs, according to the Canada Border Services Agency. Fair enough.

The new law includes the entire boundary between the United States and Canada stretching from Alaska to Maine. That’s a relief to people like the Hoys, of Green Cove Springs, Fla. The retired couple have enjoyed spending time since 2013 on Lakes Erie, Ontario, St. Clare, Huron and Michigan, and the Mississippi River, Intracoastal Waterway and Chesapeake Bay.

This was more than a minor annoyance. As T.J. Pignataro reported, the retired couple felt anxious when navigating near the international boundary line in the Great Lakes. The law required operators of fishing boats, pleasure cruisers, kayaks and Jet Skis to call in to customs once they crossed into Canadian waters, even if they had no intention of reaching the Canadian shore.

Bob Runciman, a Canadian senator representing Ontario’s Thousand Islands and Rideau Lakes areas, understood the anxiety caused by the rule. He sponsored the bill in the Canadian parliament.

The law also works the other way. Canadian operators entering American waters without docking before returning home do not have to report.

As his spokesman said, another benefit of this practical approach is that it reduces the time Border Services has to spend on low-risk vessels. Enforcing security along the border is a critical component of safety in a post-9/11 world. Still, maintaining unnecessary and time-consuming bureaucratic rituals makes no sense.

Good move, Canada.

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