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Vessel Entry and Clearance Procedures for San Diego Harbor

The following information is provided as a procedural resource for ALL vessels entering San Diego Harbor from foreign waters, and for vessels over 300 gross tons returning from a domestic or international voyage.

The topics below contain information regarding specific arrival procedures:


Pre-Arrival Notice to the National Vessel Movement Center

(Only applies to vessels over 300 gross tons) Vessels over 300 gross tons must notify the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) National Movement Center (NVMC) ninety-six hours prior to entering San Diego Harbor regardless if the vessel is on a domestic or international voyage.

The NVMC provides assistance 24 hours per day, 7 days a week by phone, email, or FAX.

  • Telephone: (800) 708-9823 or (304) 264-2502
  • Email Address: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
  • FAX Number: (800) 547-8724 or (304) 264-2684
  • Tech Support: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. Mon - Fri, 0730-1600 EST via email.

All time-sensitive inquiries should be addressed to the NVMC via one of the above 24x7 contact methods.

Electronic submittals require an account be generated on the NVMC website at http://www.nvmc.uscg.gov/. Click on the "Submit to NOA on line" icon to create an account. Then follow the submittal instructions.

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Pre-Arrival Notice to U.S. Coast Guard Sector San Diego

(Applies to vessels 100 gross tons or more) (Note: Vessels with fully operational Automatic Identification System (AIS) are exempted from making requests.) Vessels bound for San Diego Bay or Mission Bay shall contact USCG Sector San Diego for permission to enter either by telephone at 619-278-7033 or via Marine VHF-FM Channel 16 prior to entering U. S. Territorial Waters (12 miles offshore). Further radio communication regarding permission to enter the harbor will be moved to Marine VHF Channel 22A.

USCG Sector San Diego Joint Harbor Operations Center (JHOC) Contact Information:

  • Telephone: (619) 278-7031 (24 hours)
  • Radio Contact: Marine VHF Channel 16 (24 hours)
  • Address: 2710 North Harbor Drive, San Diego, CA 92101

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Pilotage

(Only applies to vessels over 300 gross tons) All vessels over 300 gross tons are required to use pilot services. The exception is a U.S. flag vessel arriving from a U.S. Port.

The Pilot Association can be contacted by calling (619) 233-3096 (24 hours). This is the appropriate number to call to pre-arrange pilotage. The pilot will ask for the date and time of arrival when these arrangements are made. When the vessel is within one hour of arrival time the pilot can be hailed on VHF Marine Channel 16. The Master of the arriving vessel will be asked to switch to VHF Channel 12 for further communication. The pilot will board between Buoy 1 and Buoy 4, depending on weather conditions.

Customs, Agriculture, and Immigrations Services

(This applies to all vessels) All vessels entering San Diego Harbor from an international voyage are required to submit to an inspection by Customs Border Protection (CBP). CBP now provides the combined services of Customs Inspection, Agricultural Inspection, and Immigration Clearance.

Telephone: (619) 685-4304 (Daily, 6:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.)
Telephone: (619) 550-5079 (Daily, 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m.)

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Commercial Vessel Clearance Location

Commercial vessels should follow their broker's instructions regarding the CBP clearance location upon arrival in the harbor.

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Private Vessel Clearance Location

Private vessels returning from foreign waters and requiring CBP services must report to the Shelter Island Harbor Police Dock located at the south end of Shelter Island, 1401 Shelter Island Drive, San Diego, CA 92106. The facility routinely can handle vessels up to 130 feet of length with no pre-notification required. Yachts over 130 feet in length should contact the Harbor Police Communications Center at (619) 686-6272 (24 hour number), eight hours prior to arrival, so that dock space can be cleared to accommodate the vessel. Masters should be aware the water depth adjacent to this dock is 14-feet at MLLW. The dock length is 235-feet. Vessels larger than this should contact the Harbor Police Communications Center for instructions on options to using this dock. Harbor Police Communications will direct vessels to contact CBP to initiate the clearance process. Call the number listed in the Customs, Agriculture, and Immigration Services section above.

ALL VESSELS using the Shelter Island Harbor Police Dock will contact CBP by dialing *82 on the telephone located at the top of the brow to the dock. It will automatically ring through to the CBP inspectors.

San Diego Harbor Police Contact Information:

  • Telephone: (619) 686-6272 (24 hours)
  • Radio Contact: Marine VHF Channel 16 (24 hours)
  • Address: 3800 N. Harbor Drive, San Diego, CA 92101 (Headquarters)
  • Address: 1401 Shelter Island Drive, San Diego, CA 92106 (Shelter Island Harbor Police Station)

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Agriculture Related Facts

CBP also now provide the required agriculture inspection upon entry into the U.S. from a foreign port. Information regarding agricultural inspections and permitted foods/produce can be obtained by going to the following web site: www.aphis.usda.gov

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Port of San Diego Marine Operations Department Contact Information

Long term berthing of large vessels

Telephone: (619) 686-6345 Mon-Fri, 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM.

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