US Customs and Border Patrol Upgrading the Small Vessel ROAM System to CBP ONE

In Summer 2021, cruising vessels entering the USA will have new options via the US Customs and Border Patrol “CBP ONE™” mobile app, on Google and Play stores. https://www.cbp.gov/about/mobile-apps-directory/cbpone. This new application will replace the CBP ROAM™ this summer 2021.

 

From CBP:
CBP One™ is a mobile application that serves as a single portal to a variety of US Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) services. Through a series of guided questions, the app will direct each type of user to the appropriate services based on their needs.

“As part of CBP’s comprehensive effort to improve the security of our nation’s borders while enhancing legitimate travel and trade, CBP One™ will provide increased accessibility and transparency to some of CBP’s most utilized services.”

“Currently, CBP One™ is available for brokers/carriers/forwarders to make appointments for the inspection of perishable cargo, travelers to apply for and view their I-94s and permission-based use for International Organizations (IOs) to verify the status of individuals in CBP Programs. Additional services will be rolled out.” This summer, the Small Vessel Reporting , CBP ROAM™ application features will be added to CBP ONE™, and all boats entering the USA will use this system.

Previously vessels used the old Small Vessel Reporting System (SVRS) which migrated to the CBP ROAM™ system. Over the past years, vessels have used the mobile CBP ROAM ™app to comply with CBP requests, and to facilitate a simpler US Customs and Border Patrol process. This has been extremely important during COVID. However several important services, needed by non-US vessels, are missing in CBP ROAM™. With the new CBP ONE™ app expanded to support Small Vessel Reporting, it seems like a major step forward. The services will include an important I-94 application and provide visibility in the process for travelers. The addition of these features makes this more a “one stop mobile system,” and should assist foreign vessels with an easier cruising permit process. As the name implies, this is to be “one“ application for mariners and travelers to use for US Customs and Border Patrol notification.

Just a warning, the timeline for the application roll out should be soon. From the CBP website, “Reporting your arrival for small pleasure boats has been available through the CBP ROAM™ application. However, in the spring of 2021, reporting arrivals for pleasure boats will be transitioned to CBP One™. Note at the time when CBP ONE™ supports the small vessels functions, CBP ROAM™ will no longer be available for use. Yes, CBP ONE™ for small vessels has been delayed to later Summer 2021, but is a planned process.”

And, as the past week shows, glitches in any roll outs do happen. For mobile IOS users, CBP ROAM™ was suddenly no longer available for use over several hour or day time frames this week.  Having said that, the new CBP ONE™ app is available for both Android and IOS. Currently, the app is being utilized successfully for commercial vessels, aircraft and travelers. So, it can be used but, just not by small vessels at this time. Unfortunately, in an error, the IOS CBP ROAM™ app was inadvertently dropped from the Google and Play Stores, forcing an immediate upgrade to the new mobile app, CBP ONE™. Then once the user reloaded data, they discovered the upgraded application was usable only for commercial vessels, airplanes and travelers, the small vessel option was not available. Vessel captains were frustrated with this problem, and we know the email traffic regarding the situation was heavy. Again, at the present time CBP ONE™ does not support Small Vessel Reporting or ROAM requirements, small vessels must still utilize the current mobile app, CBP ROAM™. In the near future, CBP plans include email and press notification for this change, a notification to impacted cruisers. This heads up will be important as the new application will be loaded from Google and Play Store sources, and user data will require reloading of information one time.

When this glitch occurred, Seven Seas Cruising Association™ (SSCA) became aware almost immediately due to member contact and the testers involved. We were aware of the CBP ONE™ efforts, and that the addition of the features, scheduled Spring of 2021 had been delayed due to various issues. As part of our efforts, SSCA has provided CBP with the contact information for some of our members who are Android and IOS app developers. They volunteered as testers for CBP ONE™. SSCA had hoped to observe the testing and be able to inform cruisers on the roll out progress. As of June, 19, 2021 this testing had not started, or at least there has been no requests to our application testers. Once notified of the ‘glitch’ by affected members, we tried to determine what the situation was, a full outage, individual outage or? Over the next hours, SSCA contacted a CBP agent in Norfolk VA, validating that some of the CBP ROAM apps were operational. Two of our testers who were impacted, tested on their IOS and Android, confirming the issue. On contacting our CBP development contacts, we were able to understand the problem and send out information on various social media sites as well as to Seven Seas members. This was a short term outage, CBP ROAM™, on Android worked if already in place. But for those with IOS, the reload to CBP ONE™ required reload of all data; then the app did not support small vessels. They then had to reload the IOS CBP ROAM™ version, after it was reinstalled on the Google and Play Stores, and reload data again.

There were some frustrated captains as this was worked out. How many mariners have the special installation code they first received on initial CBP ROAM™ install? Or access to their phone accounts used to set up their accounts with CBP? It is necessary to have a verification process to validate CBP ONE ™ or CBP ROAM™, so good record keeping is critical. And having to reload offshore or in foreign areas may be problematic. A work around, if the apps do not work, is to call the local CBP PORT office directly as soon as in range of land or shore based communications, or via satellite phone. Mariners should all have the hard copy list of port office numbers for small vessels to contact as a part of their communications packages/information. And per the CBP officer, calling is a valid way to report arrival. Remember, USA CBP regulations have a limited time to report arrival into the USA. It’s important to do it immediately. Boats have been denied access to the USA, fined heavy amounts and had great difficulty due to late arrival check in to US Customs. All vessels need to carefully follow the US Customs and Border Patrol rules.

So, for the near future, know that CBP ROAM™ is and will be active, but that a planned roll out of CBP ONE™ is in the near future, sometime this summer. Be sure to have your user data in hard copy, and a plan for when you have to reload into the new system. While this is a one-time process, it’s still a process you will have to perform. If you are planning offshore voyages, we suggest you load the new CBP ONE™ application, when it’s released for small vessel reporting, and do the migration when announced.

This new US Customs and Border Patrol application is a good step forward as a way to integrate many features to assist cruisers. Just be aware there is a process and roll out in the near future.