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February 2, 1994

HQ 113017

VES-3-06-CO:R:IT:C 113017 LLB


Ms. Mary Jo Schneider
Manager, Guest Programs
Crystal Cruises
2121 Avenue of the Stars
Los Angeles, California 90067

RE: Coastwise Trade; Photography; 46 U.S.C. App. ? 289

Dear Ms. Schneider:

This is in response to your facsimile of February 8, 1994, regarding the transportation of photographers aboard your company-owned cruise vessel from Los Angeles to Honolulu. Our ruling on this matter is set forth below.


It is proposed that four persons embark a vessel owned by Crystal Cruises in the port of Los Angeles, California. One of those persons is an executive of the company, and the other three are professional photographers employed by the company to take photographs aboard the vessel during the course of its voyage from Los Angeles to Honolulu, Hawaii, via Ensenada, Mexico. The photographs are not intended for company promotional purposes but will be used for company sales staff training. The vessel is scheduled to depart Los Angeles on February 9, 1994.


Whether the proposed transportation aboard the vessel in question constitutes a violation of 46 U.S.C. App. ? 289.


Title 46, United States Code Appendix, ? 883 (46 U.S.C. App. Act", provides in part, that no merchandise shall be transported between points in the United States embraced within the coastwise laws, either directly or via a foreign port, or for any part of the transportation, in any vessel other than a vessel built in and documented under the laws of the United States and owned by persons who are citizens of the United States (i.e., a coastwise-qualified vessel). Section 289 of title 46 (46 U.S.C. App. relevant to your concerns) as interpreted by the Customs Service, prohibits the transportation of passengers between points in the United States embraced within the coastwise laws, either directly or by way of a foreign port, in a non-coastwise-qualified vessel (see above). For purposes of ? 289, "passenger" is defined as "... any person carried on a vessel who is not connected with the operation of such vessel, her navigation, ownership, or business." (19 CFR 4.50(b)).

The coastwise laws generally apply to points in the territorial sea, defined as the belt, three nautical miles wide, seaward of the territorial sea baseline, and to points located in internal waters, landward of the territorial sea baseline, in cases where the baseline and the coastline differ.

In its administration of 46 U.S.C. App. ? 289, the Customs Service has ruled that the carriage of passengers entirely within territorial waters, even though the passengers disembark at their point of embarkation and the vessel touches no other coastwise point, is considered coastwise trade subject to coastwise laws. However, the transportation of passengers to the high seas (i.e., beyond U.S. territorial waters) and back to the point of embarkation, assuming the passengers do not go ashore, even temporarily, at another United States point, often called a "voyage to nowhere", is not considered coastwise trade. (29 O.A.G. 318 (1912))

In regard to the applicability of 46 U.S.C. App. ? 289 to the transportation of a photo crew aboard a non-coastwise-qualified vessel not owned by the transporting company, Customs has held that the mere carriage of technicians aboard such a vessel is not a sufficient nexus to the vessel's operation, navigation, ownership or business to conclude they are other than passengers within the meaning of 19 CFR ? 4.50(b). Consequently, their transportation aboard such a vessel between two United States points constitutes a violation of 46 U.S.C. App. ? 289. (Customs Rulings MA 212, dated July 3,1957; 104007, dated June 26, 1979; and 105979, dated February 9, 1983)

In the present case, however, the vessel is owned and operated by the company which is employing the photographers to produce photos for company business purposes. In such an instance, we would find a sufficient connection with the ownership or business of the vessel and would not consider persons so engaged to be passengers.


The proposed use of the non-coastwise-qualified vessel in question for the purpose of transporting persons in the employ of the transporting company between Los Angeles and Honolulu, Hawaii, would not violate 46 U.S.C. App. ? 289.


Arthur P. Schifflin

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