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HQ 227144

VES-3-02-RR:IT:EC 227144 SAJ


Ms. Sharla K. Fields c/o Mr. Milo H. Fields, III
P.O. Box 9201
Treasure Island, FL 33740

RE: Coastwise; Sailing School; Passengers; Foreign Vessel; 19 C.F.R. 4.50(b);
46 U.S.C. App. 289.

Dear Ms. Fields:

This is in response to your letter of July 25, 1996, requesting a ruling concerning charging of a tuition fee for a sailing and navigation course. We have examined the facts provided and our decision follows.


The recreational sailing vessel called "Southern Comfort" will be used for the purpose of sailing and basic navigation instruction. The vessel was built in France. The only people on board the vessel will be the inquirer and her husband (owners) and students enrolled in the sailing and navigation course. A tuition fee will be charged to the students for the aforementioned course.


Whether the charging of a sailing and basic navigation course constitutes a use in the coastwise trade in violation of 46 U.S.C. App. 289.


Title 46, United States Code Appendix, 289 (the passenger coastwise law), as interpreted by the Customs Service, prohibits the transportation of passengers between points embraced within the coastwise laws, 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. Pursuant to 4.50(b), Customs Regulations (19 C.F.R. 4.50(b)), the word "passenger", for purposes of this provision, is defined as "...any person carried on a vessel who is not connected with the operation of such vessel, her navigation, ownership, or business."

In our interpretation of 46 U.S.C. App. 289, we have held that a person transported on a vessel as a student in a sailing course, when the presence of that person is required on board the vessel as part of the course training, is not a passenger, for purposes of the coastwise laws. Headquarters Ruling (HQ) 113204 (September 6, 1994). This is the case regardless of whether a fee is charged for the aforementioned instruction. Accordingly, the use of the subject vessel is not a use in the coastwise trade, so long as all persons being carried in the vessel are involved with the operation, navigation, or business of the vessel. See HQ 112098 (May 6, 1992), HQ 109850 (December 27, 1988), and HQ 109287 (February 24, 1988).


Based on the stipulated facts, the people on the subject vessel are not passengers within the meaning of 19 U.S.C. 4.50(b). The use of a vessel for purposes of offering instruction in sailing and navigation, regardless of whether a fee is charged for the course, is not considered a use in the coastwise trade in violation of 46 U.S.C. App. 289.

This ruling addresses only those federal requirements that are administered by the United States Customs Service. While we are unaware of any federal or state agency requirements that might pertain to the undertaking you describe, it is possible that such requirements exist.



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