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HQ H017021

September 14, 2007



Ms. Toni Medina
Vessel Agent
APM Terminals
2500 Navy Way
Terminal Island, CA 90731

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

Dear Ms. Medina:

In your letter transmitted by facsimile on September 12, 2007, you requested that an individual be permitted to travel aboard the SL INTREPID, from Los Angeles to Oakland, California. Our ruling on your request follows.


An individual would be transported aboard the non-coastwise-qualified SL INTREPID from Los Angeles to Oakland, California. The individual would be traveling aboard the vessel to troubleshoot an overheating problem in the vessel’s main engine.


Whether the individual described above would be a “passenger” within the meaning of 46 U.S.C. § 55103 and 19 C.F.R. § 4.50(b)?


The coastwise passenger statute, former 46 U.S.C. App. § 289 recodified as 46 U.S.C. § 55103, pursuant to P.L. 109-304 (October 6, 2006), states that a vessel may not transport passengers between ports or places in the United States to which the coastwise laws apply, either directly or by way of a foreign port, unless the vessel is wholly owned by U.S. citizens or has been issued a certificate of documentation under a penalty of $300 for each passenger so transported and landed (see 19 C.F.R. § 4.80(b)). 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.

Under § 55103 (see 19 C.F.R. § 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.” (see 19 C.F.R. § 4.50(b)). Pursuant to Headquarters Decision 101699, dated November 5, 1975, it is well settled that "workmen, technicians, or observers transported by vessel between ports of the United States are not classified as ‘passengers’ within the meaning of section 4.50(b) and section 289 [now § 55103] 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." (See also, Headquarters Decision 116752, dated November 3, 2006, quoting HQ 116721).

Additionally, "the Customs Service [now Customs and Border Protection] 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 persons... are not ‘passengers.’” (See Headquarters Decision 103410, dated May 5, 1978). In the present case, the individual would be transported coastwise aboard the vessel to troubleshoot an overheating problem in the vessel’s main engine. Under these circumstances, the individual would be connected to the operation of the vessel and would not be considered a passenger under 46 U.S.C. § 55103.


The subject individual is not 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 not in violation of 46 U.S.C. § 55103.


Glen E. Vereb, Chief

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