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HQ H017628

September 26, 2007

VES-3-02:RR:BSTC:CCI H017628 ALS


Mr. Francisco Plata
Barwil Agencies, Inc.
210 Edgewater Street
Staten Island, New York 10305

RE: Coastwise Transportation; 46 U.S.C. § 55103

Dear Mr. Plata:

This letter is in response to your request of September 24, 2007, with respect to the coastwise transportation of an individual. Our ruling is set forth below.


You ask whether an individual may be transported on the non-coastwise qualified vessel M/V BELLAVIA (the "vessel"), to embark from a port in New York state on September 26, 2007, and disembark in the country of Panama on October 6, 2007. The individual will embark for the purpose of “audit[ing] the accounting books onboard and see that all entries are in order with the international requirements from different bureaus.” You also state that the individual will “check that safety requirements are in good order and that they comply.”


Whether the transportation of the subject individual via the proposed itinerary is coastwise transportation within the meaning of 46 U.S.C. § 55103.


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.

You state that the subject individual will be disembarking in the country of Panama after having embarked in New York state. Based on a plain reading of section 55103, it is well settled that there is no coastwise violation when a passenger is transported from a coastwise point to a foreign destination. By definition, such an itinerary does not constitute coastwise transportation. See, e.g., CBP Ruling HQ 115929 (June 3, 2003). Therefore, given that the subject individual will not be transported coastwise, there is no violation of section 55103 in this case.


The transportation of subject individual from a coastwise port to a foreign destination is not coastwise transportation within the meaning of 46 U.S.C. §

55103. Therefore, the transportation of subject individual via the proposed itinerary is not in violation of 46 U.S.C. § 55103.


Glen E. Vereb

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