Vessel Documentation for a Foreign Vessel: the MARAD Waiver Explained

vessel documentation

Did you recently come into possession of a foreign-built vessel and wish to use it for passenger operations in the United States? Are you worried about running afoul of The Jones Act? This can be tricky, as it can be against the rules. However, there are exceptions. That’s where the MARAD Waiver comes in. This makes it possible to acquire vessel documentation for certain, limited operations in the United States. At the National Documentation Portal, you can find this form of documentation among others. 

Who Can Be Eligible for the MARAD Waiver 

There are stringent rules about who can and cannot apply for this waiver as well as what kinds of vessels are eligible. For example, the vessel cannot be too new. In fact, it has to be at least three years old to qualify. Beyond that, the vessel itself must be owned by a US Citizen (i. E. You). Something to keep in mind about this waiver: it’s not a waiver for any form of boat documentation, requirement for vessel inspection, or the like. 

What You Can Do With a Vessel That Has Received This Waiver 

When we say that you can conduct “limited passenger operations,” we mean it. Specifically, when in service, your vessel cannot carry more than 12 passengers. That means you can have up to 12 passengers on it in a commercial capacity, passengers that paid to be there/transported, and so forth. Now, that also means that you cannot use it to fish commercially, carry cargo, dredge, tow, salvage, and so forth. Sure, you can fish recreationally (or “sport fishing” as it’s also called) but you can’t sell any of the fish you catch. 

What Most Do After They Receive This Waiver 

It may take a bit of time for this waiver to clear, as the powers that be have to determine that you’re eligible, that you aren’t going to harm the local economy through your operations, and so forth. That said, the good news is that a strong majority of these waivers tend to be granted. Additionally, once the waiver has been received, most vessel owners don’t just “stand pat,” especially not if the vessel measures at least five net tons. If that’s the case, then they file for a coastwise trade endorsement as a passenger vessel. You can find the application for that form on our site as well. 

vessel documentation

Vessel Documentation for American Vessels 

In fact, the MARAD Waiver as well as the initial boat documentation forms are just two of the many forms that we offer at our site. Indeed, many vessel owners who come to us just to file for a MARAD Waiver end up getting all of their boat documentation through our site: the initial documentation, the renewal, applying for a Preferred Ship’s Mortgage, and more. To see all of the vessel forms that we have to help simplify the process for vessel owners, please see the rest of our site.