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HQ 115361

June 15, 2001

VES-3-02:RR:IT:EC 115361 LLO


Monsieur Emeric Sterm
120 Avenue de Suffren
75015 Paris

RE: Coastwise Trade, Sailing School; 46 U.S.C. App. §289

Dear Mr. Sterm:

We received a letter written on your behalf dated April 23, 2001, requesting a ruling regarding the permissibility of carrying on a sailing school in the United States in the State of Florida. Our ruling on this matter is set forth below.


It has been indicated that you plan to teach sailing from your 42-foot long boat, a French-flagged vessel. In the framework of this activity, you would not only teach participants how to sail, but also carry students to the open sea in order to demonstrate for them how to sail.


Whether the charging of a tuition fee for sailing/navigation classes aboard a foreign-flagged vessel constitutes a use in the coastwise trade in violation of 46 U.S.C. App. §289.


Title 46, United States Code Appendix, section 289 (the passenger coastwise law), as interpreted by the United States Customs Service, prohibits the transportation of passengers between points embraced within the coastwise laws either directly, or by way of a foreign point in any vessel other than a vessel built in, documented under the laws of, and owned by citizens of the United States. Pursuant to 19 Code of Federal Regulations, Section 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.”

Customs interpretation of 46 U.S.C. App. §289, has held that a person transported on a vessel as a student in courses such as oceanography or sailing and seamanship, when the presence of that person is required on board the vessel as part of his or her course or training, is not a passenger, for purposes of the coastwise laws. This is the case, whether or not a fee is charged for the aforementioned instruction. Accordingly, the use of the subject vessel as described above is not a use in the coastwise trade in violation of 46 U.S.C. App. §289.


The use of a foreign-flagged vessel for purposes of offering instruction in navigation and seamanship, regardless of whether a tuition fee is charged for such instruction, is not considered a use in the coastwise trade in violation of 46 U.S.C. App. §289.


Larry L. Burton

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