CBP Roam App
Anyone else out there sailing to Puerto Rico? Are you a US citizen?
For many of us, the first stop after leaving the Dominincan Republic (or sometimes the Bahamas) is Puerto Rico. This was the path that we took, leaving Samana Dominican Republic and sailing 2 days to anchor in Puerto Real Puerto Rico.
Prior to leaving the Dominican Republic we had heard from some other sailing friends about the US Customs and Boarder App called CBP Roam. According to others we could use this app to check in once we reached Puerto Rico. I downloaded the app from the Apple App Store, and was quickly able to log in and sign up for a free account. This app is great for American citizens who wish to travel to Puerto Rico, and prefer an easy and hassle free method of check in.
One more thing you will need to be aware of is the DTOPS decal. If you are an American registered vessel (you may need this for other countries of registration, but I am not sure at the moment), you will also need to purchase a cruising decal prior to entering Puerto Rico. This is like the equivalent of a cruising permit for the country and can easily be purchased here for $28.84 for the year. They will mail you the decal, but if you are live aboard sailors like us, you won’t be going home to get the decal. That is ok, just make sure you write down your decal payment receipt number. You will need it when you enter information in the CBP Roam app.
So here’s what you have to do:
1. Download the CBP Roam app from the apple or android app store.
2. Open the app and sign up for an account. During sign up you will create a username and password and then you will be given a 16 digit secure access code. DO NOT LOOSE this code! You will need it when you sign in if you have no way of receiving a secure code through text (like me because I still had my Dominican SIM card and not one that worked in PR).
3. Once you enter the app, you will see a navigation bar at the bottom. Prior to checking in you will need to complete the ‘modes of travel’ and ‘travelers’ sections. You can do this before you leave your previous port or when you first arrive in Puerto Rico. You will need your DTOPS decal payment receipt number, or the decal number itself to complete the ‘modes of transportation’ section.
Prior to leaving the Dominican Republic I filled out the tabs for “Mode of Travel” and “Travelers.” This required me to input our boat information and scan and input our passport information.
** you can also do this upon arrival, it doesn’t need to be done before hand, I just did it so that it would be that much easier when I got here.**
4. Get your sail on!
5. When you get to Puerto Rico and find wifi or regain service, log into the app, and navigate to the tab that says ‘report arrival.’ If you have already input your information than all you need to do is select your vessel and travelers and hit ‘submit.’ If you have not input your information you should do so now and then hit ‘report arrival.’
6. At this point the screen will say application pending. Now you will need to call the local customs authority and let them know that you submitted your arrival request. Here is the number where you can report your arrival to customs in Puerto Rico:
1-877-529-6840 OR 787-729-6840
7. A customs agent will look over your submission and then they will request a video chat through the app. When I chatted, I couldn’t see them, but they could see me, and they only asked me 3-4 questions, at which point they approved my arrival. You will then receive an email stating that “you and your reporting group are now cleared to enter the U.S.”
8. And that is it! Now you are free to cruise around Puerto Rico!
Seems quite simple right?! Well it is if you have a sim card that works in Puerto Rico, it is!
I still had my Dominican Republic SIM card so I had ‘no service.’ I was able to access the app on wifi, but was unable to call the customs office on my own phone. Luckily we were anchored in Puerto Real, and the manager at Marina Pescaderia here in Puerto Real was nice enough to let me use his phone to call. Then, unfortunately I had no service in order to receive the phone call. So problem solving kicked in, and again the manager, Jose, at Marina Pescaderia allowed me to use their CBP kiosk in the marina lounge. A basic iPad set up, I was able to input all of our boat and passenger information, call the customs office and video chat all within 10 minutes.
So in short, if you will have service on your phone once you arrive in Puerto Rico, than the CBP Roam app is great, quick and easy. If you will not have service, than plan on stopping somewhere where you will have access to wifi and a phone line. We highly recommend Marina Pescaderia in Puerto Real. The staff is very helpful, and you can use their CBP kiosk regardless of whether or not you are staying at the marina. We anchored out in the bay (very protected anchorage, and great holding) and then took the dinghy in to check in.