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HQ H004495

December 19, 2006

VES-3-02-RR:BSTC:CCI H004495 CK


Jorge L. Viteri
District Manager, California
Quay Cruise Agencies U.S.A.
1000 E. Del Amo Boulevard
Carson, CA 90746-3520

Dear Mr. Viteri:

In your letter transmitted by facsimile on December 14, 2006, you requested as an agent for Crystal Cruises, that three electrical signage installers and two supervisors be allowed to travel aboard the foreign-flagged vessel M/V CRYSTAL SYMPHONY from Los Angeles, CA to San Diego, CA. Our ruling on your request follows.


Three electrical signage installers and two supervisors of the installation who would also train the onboard casino staff in the use of the new signage, are requested to travel aboard the foreign-flagged M/V CRYSTAL SYMPHONY from Los Angeles, CA to San Diego, CA. The five individuals are private contractors who would embark December 21, 2006 and disembark on December 22, 2006. The purpose for being aboard the vessel is to install new onboard casino electrical signage, supervise this installation, and train casino personnel in its usage.


Whether the five individuals described above would be passengers under the coastwise passenger statute, 46 U.S.C. §55103 (formerly 46 U.S.C. App. 289).


The coastwise passenger statute, the former 46 U.S.C. App. 289 recodified at 46 U.S.C. §55103, pursuant to P.L. 109-304 (October 6, 2006) provides that no vessel may transport passengers between ports or places in the United States either directly or by way of a foreign port, upon a penalty of $300 for every passenger so transported and landed (see 19 CFR 4.80(b), unless it has been documented for the coastwise trade under chapter 121 of Title 46, United States Code. Under section 55103 (see 19 CFR 4.80a(a)(5)), a “passenger” is any person carried aboard a vessel who is not connected with the operation of the vessel, her navigation, ownership, or business (19 CFR 4.50(b)). In this regard, as resolved in a June 5, 2002, Customs Bulletin notice (Vol. 36, No. 23, p. 50, persons transported on a vessel would be passengers unless they were “directly and substantially” connected with the operation, navigation, ownership, or business of that vessel itself. In the current context, Headquarters ruling (HQ) 116752, of November 3, 2006, is instructive in explaining the operative administrative law applicable in this context, as follows:

[T]he Customs Service [now Customs and Border Protection (CBP)] has repeatedly ruled that if any persons are transported coastwise who are bona fide agents of the line or officers of companies acting as such agents and if such persons while on the voyage are concerned with observing and appraising the facilities offered, such personsare not ‘passengers’ under section 289 [now section 55103] and §4.50(b) (emphasis added) (HQ 103410, of May 5, 1978 (operations manager of freight line transported coastwise aboard freight line’s vessel to observe vessel’s operational pattern thereby deemed connected with operation and business of vessel so as not to be passenger when being transported for this purpose)).

HQ 116752 (emphasis added) (executive chef of cruise line transported aboard its vessel “to monitor and access the standards of [vessel’s culinary operation onboard” found to be connected with that vessel’s operation/business, and not considered passenger).

In the present case, the three electrical signage installers are aboard the vessel to install new onboard casino electrical signage. The two supervisors would oversee this installation and train the ship’s casino personnel in its usage. In this context, and in accordance with previous Headquarters rulings, workmen, technicians, or observers transported by vessel between ports of the United States are not classified as “passengers” within the meaning of 46 U.S.C. § 55103 and 19 CFR § 4.50(b), if they are required to be on board to contribute to the accomplishment of the operation or navigation of the vessel during the voyage or are on board because of a necessary vessel ownership or business interest during the voyage. HQ 101699, of November 5, 1975; see also HQ 116721, of September 25, 2006, quoting HQ 101699. The work of these five individuals is sufficiently connected to the operation and business of the vessel that they are not considered passengers for purposes of the administration of 46 U.S.C. §55103.


Under the facts presented, the five individuals described above are not passengers for purposes of administering 46 U.S.C. §55103. Hence, their coastwise transportation aboard the M/V CRYSTAL SYMPATHY would not be in violation of 46 U.S.C. §55103.


Glen E. Vereb

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