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HQ 111398

December 12, 1990

VES-03-02:CO:R:P:C 111398 RAH


Stephen A. Nielsen
Vice President Marine Operations
10100 Santa Monica Boulevard
Los Angeles, California 90067-4189

RE: 46 U.S.C. App. 289; Passenger; Puerto Rico

Dear Mr. Nielsen:

This is in response to your letter of November 6, 1990, requesting our advice on the operation of foreign-flag ships between Puerto Rico and New York.

In your letter you state that you are contemplating the operation of a foreign-flag cruise ship from New York to San Juan, Puerto Rico, with passengers for hire. You ask whether "...the exemption granted to foreign flag ships to operate between Puerto Rico and Florida also extends to New York." In that regard, we are unaware of any law specifically exempting Puerto Rico and Florida from the coastwise laws.

Generally, as you are aware, the coastwise passenger statute (46 U.S.C. App. 289) prohibits the transportation of passengers between points in the United States either directly or by way of a foreign port in any vessel other than a vessel built in, documented under the laws of, and owned by citizens of the United States, under penalty of $200 for each passenger so transported and landed.

Nevertheless, Public Law 98-563 (46 U.S.C. App. 289c) was signed into law on October 30 and became effective on November 15, 1984. That statute provides that passengers may be transported between ports in Puerto Rico and other ports in the United States on passenger vessels not qualified to engage in the coastwise trade, subject to the condition that no qualified U.S. passenger vessels are available for such service. Customs Decisions 107184 (11-19-84), 108476 (8-20-86).

Accordingly, although section 289c provides that the contemplated transportation might be lawful, we have no evidence of compliance with the provisions of that law. Furthermore, the information submitted is insufficient to issue a ruling thereon. Pursuant to 19 C.F.R. 177.2 (copy enclosed), a ruling request must be described in sufficient detail and contain a complete statement of all relevant facts relating to the transaction in question.

If you have any further questions regarding this matter, please do not hesitate to contact our office.


B. James Fritz

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