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HQ H010696

May 9, 2007



Mr. Robert W. Hawn
Inchcape Shipping Services
15635 Jacintoport Boulevard, Suite 200
Houston, TX 77015-6534

RE: Coastwise Transportation; 46 U.S.C. § 55103; 19 C.F.R. § 4.50(b)

Dear Mr. Hawn:

This letter is in response to your correspondence of May 4, 2007, in which you inquire about the coastwise transportation of the individual mentioned therein aboard the STOLT JADE. Our decision follows.


The voyage in question involves the transportation of a regional human resources manager aboard the non-coastwise-qualified STOLT JADE (the “vessel”). The subject individual is expected to embark in New Orleans, Louisiana on May 10, 2007 and disembark in Houston, Texas, on or about May 12, 2007, and will be transported aboard the vessel for the purpose of observing shipboard operations.


Whether the subject individual is a “passenger” within the meaning of 46 U.S.C. § 55103 and 19 C.F.R. § 4.50(b).


Generally, the coastwise laws prohibit the transportation of passengers or merchandise between points in the United States embraced within the coastwise laws in any vessel other than a vessel built in, documented under the laws of, and owned by citizens of the United States. Such a vessel, after it has obtained a coastwise endorsement from the U.S. Coast Guard, is said to be “coastwise qualified.”

The coastwise laws generally apply to points in the territorial sea, which is 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. The coastwise law applicable to the carriage of passengers is found in 46 U.S.C. § 55103

Recodified by Pub. L. 109-304, enacted on October 6, 2006. which provides:

(a) In General. Except as otherwise provided in this chapter or chapter 121 of this title, a vessel may not transport passengers between ports or places in the United States to which the coastwise laws apply, either directly or via a foreign port, unless the vessel- (1) is wholly owned by citizens of the United States for purposes of engaging in coastwise traffic; (2) has been issued a certificate of documentation with a coastwise endorsement under chapter 121 or is exempt from documentation but would otherwise be eligible for such a certificate and endorsement. (b)Penalty. The penalty for violating subsection (a) is $300 for each passenger transported and landed.

The Customs and Border Protection (“CBP”) Regulations, promulgated under the authority of 46 U.S.C. § 55103, provide:

A passenger within the meaning of this part is any person carried on a vessel who is not connected with the operation of the vessel, her navigation, ownership, or business.

19 C.F.R. § 4.50(b).

In HQ H008510 (Mar. 22, 2007) and HQ H008513 (Mar. 23, 2007), CBP held that shipping agency trainees transported aboard a vessel “to observ[e] daily life on a vessel and gain[] better insight about what their colleagues [that] work[] on a vessel actually do” or “observe what goes on during a vessel’s voyage” were passengers within the meaning of 46 U.S.C. § 55103 insofar as the trainees were not “directly and substantially” See HQ 116721, supra; and see HQ 116659(May 19, 2006)(referencing the “direct and substantial” test). connected with the operation, navigation, ownership or business of the vessel itself.

Similarly, in the present case, you propose to transport a shipping agency’s human resources manager to “observe shipboard operations.” Although familiarizing a human resources manager with vessel operations may foster the business of the shipping company, it does not connect the human resources manager directly and substantially with the business of the vessel itself. To the extent that the subject individual would not have been engaged in any shipboard activities while traveling on the foreign vessel between coastwise ports, that would be “directly and substantially” related to the operation or business of the vessel itself, such individual would be considered a passenger within the meaning of 46 U.S.C. § 55103 and 19 C.F.R. § 4.50(b).


The subject individual described above is a “passenger” within the meaning of 46 U.S.C. § 55103 and 19 C.F.R. § 4.50(b). Therefore, the coastwise transportation of such individual is in violation of 46 U.S.C. § 55103.


Glen E. Vereb

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