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HQ H017794

September 28, 2007

VES-3-02-OT:RR:BSTC:CCI H017794 GG


Mr. Edmund Patrick White
TFMarine, Inc.
1201 Corbin Street
Elizabeth, NJ 07201

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

Dear Mr. White:

This is in response to your correspondence of September 26, 2007, in which you inquire about the coastwise transportation of an individual.


The voyage in question involves the transportation of the subject individual aboard the non-coastwise-qualified M.V. RHEIN BRIDGE (the “vessel”), from Port Elizabeth, New Jersey to Norfolk, Virginia and Savannah, Georgia during the period from on or about October 2, 2007 to on or about October 6, 2007 for the purpose of serving as an unarmed gangway security guard.


Whether the subject individual described above is a “passenger” 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:

(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 the coastwise trade; and

(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.

Section 4.50(b), U.S. 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 transported on the vessel for the purpose of unarmed gangway security watch. 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. See CBP Ruling HQ 101699 (November 5, 1975); see also HQ 116721 (September 25, 2006), quoting HQ 101699.

Thus, to the extent that the individual would be 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, as would be the case under the facts herein submitted, such individual would not be considered to be a passenger (see HQ 116721, supra; and see HQ 116659 (May 19, 2006), referencing the “direct and substantial” test). See also, e.g., Customs telex 104712 (July 21, 1980), finding that repairmen were not passengers when carried aboard a foreign vessel between U.S. ports “for [the] purpose of repairing vessel en route between such ports.”

In the present case, it is stated that the individual would be aboard the vessel to serve as an unarmed gangway security guard. In this regard, it is clear that the individual, engaged as described while in transit aboard the ship, would thereby be so connected with the operation and business of the vessel itself as not to be passengers under those circumstances (compare, e.g., Headquarters ruling (HQ) H005405, of January 17, 2007 (owner’s representative conducting audit and overseeing crew’s and vessel’s overall operation during transit not passenger); and HQ H006223, of February 1, 2007 (two individuals transported from New York/Newark to Charleston, SC, for the purpose of “gangway security and crew management” not passengers)).

We find that the proposed activity in this case is directly and substantially connected with the operation and business of the vessel. Therefore, we determine that the subject individual is not a “passenger” within the meaning of 46 U.S.C. § 55103 and 19 CFR § 4.50(b). Accordingly, the coastwise transportation of such individual is not in violation of 46 U.S.C. § 55103.


The unarmed gangway security guard would not be a passenger under the coastwise passenger statute, 46 U.S.C. § 55103, when transported for the purposes described in this case.


Glen E. Vereb

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