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HQ H018522

October 16, 2007



Mr. Jared Bunge
Norton Lilly International
10050 Northwest Freeway, Suite 275
Houston, Texas 77092

Dear Mr. Bunge:

This letter is in response to your request of October 15, 2007, with respect to the coastwise transportation of a certain individual. Our ruling is set forth below.


You ask whether a certain individual may be transported on the non-coastwise qualified ROME EXPRESS ("vessel"), from Houston, Texas to New Orleans, Louisiana. You state that the individual will be onboard to perform the following tasks:

Inspection of Complete vessel as per mandate issued by Owners Hapag Lloyd to ship management company. This includes checking all statutory certification of vessel, compliance of all international regulations including Marpol, Solas and other IMO and ISM regulations. Checking of special Flag requirements. Checking of machinery performances, machinery maintenance, spares n [sic] stores. Inspection of all structural parts of the vessel, including some holds, ballast tanks, cargo lashing gear. Inspection of navigation equipment and procedures. Inspection of all safety and fire fighting equipment. Checking crew competence and certification. Checking ILO requirements.

The individual will embark on October 22, 2007 in Houston and disembark in New Orleans on or about October 25, 2007.


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 will be onboard to perform the tasks discussed in the FACTS section of this letter. 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. CBP Ruling HQ 101699 (November 5, 1975); see also CBP Ruling HQ 116721 (September 25, 2006).

Thus, in the present case, 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 CBP Ruling HQ 116659 (May 19, 2006), referencing the "direct and substantial" test). See also, e.g., Customs telex 104712, of 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."

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 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 individuals is not in violation of 46 U.S.C. § 55103.


Glen E. Vereb

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