Distribution: Cruise Lines, Vessel Agents, Port Authorities and other interested parties.
This document is provided by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) in the Area Ports of Maine in an attempt to avoid any confusion as to the expectations of CBP with respect to inspectional operations for arriving cruise ships in the Ports of Portland. CBP strives to provide the utmost in passenger service to the cruise industry calling upon these ports, while simultaneously protecting the citizens and institutions of the United States. CBP has taken great steps to expedite the inspection of cruise passengers and allow for progressive debarkation. As in years past, the following procedural suggestions are provided in an effort to elicit your cooperation and assistance.
- Do not encourage passengers to queue up and wait for CBP Officers prior to their arrival. Experience has shown that some passengers will queue up early of their own accord and waiting passengers are unhappy passengers. Utilize an organized, defined method (alphabetical, by deck, group, etc.) of directing passengers to the passenger inspection area / lounge.
- If a stage in a theater on board the vessel is to be utilized for CBP inspections, do NOT stage the passengers in the theater. Passengers should be presented for inspection in an orderly fashion and directed to depart in an expeditious manner.
- If the ship wishes to be afforded the privilege of progressive debarkation, a mechanism MUST be in place to identify the passengers that have yet to be inspected by CBP and those that have been inspected. The means by which this is accomplished varies by vessel. This could be as simple as placing a sticker on or punching the passenger cruise card to blocking all passengers in the security system until they are inspected. The mechanism utilized must allow CBP and ship security personnel to quickly identify passengers that have been inspected (or not) at the gangway and should not be easy for the passengers to defeat. For example, placing a piece of paper in each inspected passenger’s passport would not be acceptable because passengers can lose or move those pieces of paper. CBP will periodically verify that the system in place is functioning and reserves the right to cease progressive debarkation if the system in place is not functioning properly.
- If there is a desire to expedite the passengers disembarking for early excursions, those passengers should be separated and a mechanism devised to
- present them first at the inspection area or;
- provide a separate inspection area for these passengers
- Separate passengers into US Citizens (USC) and Aliens (includes Canadians).
- Provide ship staff to verify that passengers have the proper documents (Passport, I-94, I-94W, etc.) in hand prior to inspection.
- For Alien Passengers:
- ALL I-418’s (Crew and Passenger) must be prepared and presented in alphabetical order.
- Present a printed copy of the Alien Passenger List (I-418) for every CBP Officer assigned to the vessel. (8-10 copies)
- Provide ship staff to verify that documents are in hand prior to inspection. Make certain the proper form I-94 / I-94W is completed (front and back) prior to being inspected by CBP. Those being processed in the Portland Terminal (P2B2) will be processed with electronic I-94s.
- Do not remove the I-94 or I-94W from passengers returning to the United States on the present voyage.
- Again, do NOT allow passengers to wait in the inspection area. Move the passengers through the inspection area.
Crew, with the exception of crew required for immediate shore operations, should always be presented for inspection last.
Smoking areas are NEVER acceptable for any type of inspectional activities.
A “full crew” inspection requires a great deal of coordination and cooperation in order to appear seamless to the passengers.
- Sort the crew into groups for clearance and present the groups in the order:
- Make copies of the Crew List (D-1, D-2) available to each CBP Officer assigned to inspect the crew. (3-5 copies)
- Make certain ALL paperwork is complete for each crew member prior to being presented to the CBP Officer.
For the D-2’s, present the crew members as grouped on the I-408.
All cruise ships calling upon the Port of Portland are inspected dockside. The location of the CBP inspection will vary depending on the berth assigned by the City of Portland. If the vessel arrives at Pier 2, Berth 2 (P2B2) then the inspection will occur within the Federal Inspection Site (FIS) within the Ocean Gate facility. If the vessel arrives at the Portland Ocean Terminal, the inspection will occur on board the vessel. CBP typically arrives at the pier ahead of the vessel. Once the CBP Officers arrive, they muster and then board the vessel. By the time the CBP Officers are on board the vessel, it would typically be 15 minutes or so to set up and begin inspections.
Keeping this in mind:
- Do not plan on commencing shore excursions within 30 minutes of CBP arrival.
- The Supervisor or lead CBP Officer will advise the vessel agent when the ship can drop tenders (if requested while in Portland).
- The Supervisor or lead CBP Officer will advise when/if progressive disembarkation can begin.
- The Supervisor or lead CBP Officer will advise when/if US Citizens are cleared to disembark the vessel. This applies only on “Closed Loop” arrivals.
- Do not encourage passengers to queue up for inspection prior to CBP boarding.
- Do not queue up more passengers for inspection than can be inspected expeditiously, resulting in them having to wait.
- Establishing 2 inspection areas works best for most vessels. Passengers should be divided into;
- US Citizens
- Aliens (includes Canadians and Legal Permanent Residents of the US).
- Crew inspections will normally be completed once ALL passengers have been inspected and/or examined.
The above suggestions are presented to you after many years of experience with the cruise industry. The procedures have been adapted to the unusual conditions created by long commutes, tender operations and the adverse weather conditions that can occur in Maine. Any comments and questions are always welcome.
If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact Christi Doyle, Assistant Port Director for Passenger Operations, Area Ports of Maine at Christi.Doyle@dhs.gov.
If questions are specific to a particular port of arrival, please call the CBP manager listed below:
- Portland Supervisory CBPO Lawrence (Chip) Ross 207-771-3631