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HQ H010742

May 4, 2007

VES-3-02:RR:BSTC:CCI H010742 ALS


Ms. Denise Schaefer
Agency Manager
Odfjell USA Inc.
12211 Port Road
Seabrook, Texas 77586

Dear Ms. Schaefer:

This letter is in response to your received in our office on May 4, 2007, with respect to the coastwise transportation of three individuals. Our ruling is set forth below.


You ask whether three individuals may be transported on the non-coastwise qualified vessel BOW PRIDE (the "vessel"), from Houston, Texas on May 6, 2007, and then back to Houston, Texas on May 16, 2007. The three individuals will embark and disembark at the same coastwise port. They will be repairing the air conditioning unit aboard the vessel.


Whether the subject individuals are "passengers" within the meaning of 46 U.S.C. § 55103 and 19 CFR 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) and provides that:

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
is wholly owned by citizens of the United States for purposes of engaging in the coastwise traffic; and
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.

Penalty. The penalty for violating subsection (a) is $300 for each passenger transported and landed.

Section 4.50(b), Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Regulations (19 CFR 4.50(b)) provides as follows:

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

You state that the subject individual will be embarking and disembarking at the same coastwise port without disembarking at any intervening ports. Section 55103 specifically states that the prohibited activity would take place between two coastwise ports. We interpret to mean two different coastwise ports. Thus, whether passengers or not, the three subject individuals would not be engaging in coastwise transportation in the scenario you present. This is true, however, only if the three individuals do not disembark at any coastwise port between the date they embark in Houston and the date they disembark in Houston.


The proposed scenario does not constitute coastwise transportation under 46 U.S.C. § 55103. The transportation of the three individuals, who will embark and disembark in Houston, is therefore not a violation of section 55103.


Glen E. Vereb

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