A Coast Guard Portal to Legally Use a Non-US Vessel to Carry Passengers

Coast Guard portal

Did you recently purchase a small vessel that you want to use for transporting passengers, yet it wasn’t made in the United States? Does it seem like you should be able to legally use your vessel how you want? Vessel owners just like you have wrestled with this for some time. The truth is that, for the most part, foreign-built vessels can’t really be used to commercially transport passengers in the United States. That said, there are exceptions. One of the most popular can be filed through our Coast Guard portal: the MARAD Waiver. 

Coast Guard Portal for The MARAD Waiver in Full 

In this context, “MARAD” is a shortening of “Maritime Administration of the United States.” Many of the rules and regulations from the Coast Guard are put in place to not cause an “undue adverse effect” on American shipbuilders or other American vessel operators. You can see how if, foreign-made vessels were allowed to carry large groups of passengers in America, that could cause problems for American ship makers. So, this waiver makes it possible for you, for a limited time, to conduct limited passenger operations on US waters. 

What You Can Do With a MARAD Waiver

The word “limited” needs to be stressed a few times when it comes to this waiver. For example, you can’t carry anymore than twelve passengers when your vessel is in service.  So, you aren’t going to be transporting large groups with this. However, you will be legally allowed to transport up to twelve passengers commercially with this vessel. One thing to keep in mind: your vessel has to be at least three years old. It can be made from somewhere outside of America, but it can’t be any newer than three years old. 

What You Can’t Do With This Waiver 

Again, you are limited to commercially transporting twelve passengers. That really is it. You can’t use it to carry cargo and you certainly can’t engage in any commercial fishing. Beyond that, you won’t be able to dredge, tow, or salvage with this, either. However, you are able to sport fish. So, if you and some friends just want to fish off of the side of the vessel, you’re more than welcome to do so. Be forewarned, however: you can’t sell any of the fish you sell commercially. 

A Coast Guard Portal for the Life of Your Vessel 

A word to the wise about this waiver: usually, what happens is that after the waivers are received, the applicant then files for a “Coastwise Trade Endorsement as a Passenger Vessel” (provided the vessel measures five net tons or more). Does that last sentence seem a bit confusing to you? We can help. Here at our site, we employ top-quality experts who have helped vessel owners just like you with vessel documentation for many years. They can answer any questions you might have about the MARAD Waiver or any of our other forms. You can reach us at (866) 981-8783.