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HQ 116487

June 27, 2005

VES-3-02-RR:IT:EC 116487 IDL


CDR and Mrs. Ralph C. Weiss
13 Bayside Avenue
Newport, Rhode Island 02840

RE: Coastwise Trade; Passenger Vessel Services Act; Distant Foreign Port; 46 U.S.C. App. § 289; 19 CFR § 4.80a

Dear CDR. and Mrs. Weiss:

This is in response to your letter, dated June 7, 2005, concerning your anticipated travel aboard the Norwegian Cruise Lines Ship, MAJESTY, and the Passenger Vessel Services Act. Our ruling on this matter is set forth below.


The Norwegian Cruise Lines Ship, MAJESTY, a non-coastwise-qualified vessel, is scheduled to operate a “13-Day Exotic Caribbean” voyage. The itinerary below displays the dates of embarkation, arrival at various ports, and disembarkation of the voyage:

October 30, 2005 Boston, Massachusetts [Embarkation] November 3, 2005 San Juan, Puerto Rico
November 4, 2005 St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands November 5, 2005 St. John’s, Antigua
November 6, 2005 Castries, St. Lucia
November 8, 2005 Oranjestad, Aruba
November 11, 2005 Port Canaveral, Florida November 12, 2005 Charleston, South Carolina [Disembarkation]

You inquire whether you may disembark at Port Canaveral on November 11, 2005, one day prior to completion of the MAJESTY’s thirteen-day voyage.


Whether disembarkation of passengers one day prior to completion of the MAJESTY’s thirteen-day voyage would violate 46 U.S.C. App. § 289?


U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) enforces various navigation laws which deal with the use of vessels in what is recognized as coastwise trade. Included among these laws is the Act of June 19, 1886, as amended (24 Stat. 81; 46 U.S.C. App. § 289, commonly known as the Passenger Vessel Services Act, or the coastwise passenger law), which provides that:

No foreign vessel shall transport passengers between ports or places in the United States, either directly or by way of a foreign port, under a penalty of $300 for each passenger so transported and landed.

Pursuant to section 4.50(b), CBP Regulations (19 CFR 4.50(b)), the word "passenger," for purposes of the above-cited statute, is defined as "...any person carried on a vessel who is not connected with the operation of such vessel, her navigation, ownership, or business."

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 coastline differ.

CBP has consistently interpreted the prohibition set forth in 46 U.S.C. App. § 289 to apply to all vessels except United States-built, owned, and properly documented vessels. (See 46 U.S.C. §§ 12106, 12110; and 46 U.S.C. App. § 883). Furthermore, CBP has promulgated regulations pursuant to 46 U.S.C. App. § 289. These regulations may be found in Title 19, Code of Federal Regulations, section 4.80a.

Section 4.80a(b)(3), CBP Regulations (19 CFR 4.80a(b)(3)), provides that no coastwise violation occurs if a passenger is on a voyage to one or more coastwise ports and a distant foreign port or ports (whether or not the voyage includes a nearby foreign port or ports) and the passenger disembarks at a coastwise port provided the passenger has proceeded with the vessel to a distant foreign port. (See 19 CFR 4.80a(a)(1)(2)(3) and (4) for the definitions of the terms "coastwise port," "nearby foreign port," "distant foreign port," "embark," and "disembark," as those terms are used in the regulation).

In regard to the MAJESTY’s cruise itinerary, the term "distant foreign port," for purposes of section 4.80a, is defined in paragraph (a)(3) of that section as "any foreign port that is not a nearby [foreign] port." The term "nearby foreign port," as specified in paragraph (a)(2) of section 4.80a, does not include Oranjestad, Aruba. As such, it follows that Oranjestad is a "distant foreign port," as that term is used in section 4.80a of the CBP Regulations.

Accordingly, your proposal to board the MAJESTY at a coastwise port (Boston) on a voyage to at least one other coastwise port (San Juan) and a distant foreign port (Aruba), before disembarking at Port Canaveral, would be in accordance with section 4.80a(b)(3) and the Passenger Vessel Services Act.


Disembarkation of passengers one day prior to completion of the MAJESTY’s thirteen-day voyage, as described above, would not violate 46 U.S.C. App.


Glen E. Vereb

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