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HQ H018118

October 10, 2007



Ms. Amy Blum
Interocean American Shipping Company
Two Echelon Plaza
221 Laurel Road, Suite 300
Voorhees, New Jersey 08043-2349

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

Dear Ms. Blum:

This letter is in response to your request of October 5, 2007, with respect to the coastwise transportation of an individual. Our ruling is set forth below.


You ask whether a certain individual may be transported on the non-coastwise qualified M/V FREEDOM ("vessel"), from Charleston, South Carolina to Brunswick, Georgia. The individual will embark on or about October 13, 2007 in Charleston and disembark on or about October 15, 2007 in Brunswick. You state that the individual is the “Captain’s wife.”


Whether the subject individual 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:

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 individual is the “Captain’s wife.” It is well-settled that immediate family members (i.e., a spouse and children) of the officers of the vessel transported by the 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). See, e.g., CBP Ruling HQ H004335 (December 13, 2006), citing U.S. Customs Service General Letter No. 117 (May 20, 1916). Thus, in the present case, to the extent that the individual in question is the wife of the Captain of the vessel, such individual would not be considered to be a passenger. See also Customs Bulletin, vol. 36, no. 8, p. 50 (February 20, 2002). Accordingly, the coastwise transportation of such individual is not in violation of 46 U.S.C. § 55103.


The subject individual is not a "passenger" within the meaning of 46 U.S.C. § 55103 and 19 CFR 4.50(b). Therefore, the coastwise transportation of such individual is not in violation of 46 U.S.C. § 55103.


Glen E. Vereb

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