Marad Small Vessel Waiver: What Is It and Why Do You Need it

We take pride in saying that the United States is a free country and the Marad Waiver is no exception. Our country has certain regulations in place that benefit domestic commerce. To prioritize American vessel-owners and home-built boats, the Maritime Administration has certain protections to regulate who has access to commerce between domestic ports.

Vessel owners whose ships were not built in the United States, however, can struggle to gain access to these trade routes. There are certain ways to avoid these restrictions and participate in domestic commerce even with a foreign vessel. This measure is called the Marad waiver and has been helping foreign sailors since the Jones Act and the Merchant Marine Act since 1920.

What is the Merchant Marine Act And How Does it Relate With the Marad Waiver?

In 1920, the United States passed a federal law called the Merchant Marine Act. One of the ideas of this act, among other purposes, was to regulate maritime commerce in American waters and between American ports. The plan was to ensure a vibrant maritime industry in the United States with commercial vessels navigating between the American ports with goods and passengers.

A transcript from the law itself states as follows: “It is necessary for the national defense and for the proper growth of its foreign and domestic commerce that the United States shall have a merchant marine of the best equipped and most suitable types of vessels sufficient to carry the greater portion of its commerce and serve as a naval or military auxiliary in time of war or national emergency, ultimately to be owned and operated privately by citizens of the United States.”

“It is declared to be the policy of the United States to do whatever may be necessary to develop and encourage the maintenance of such a merchant marine, and, in so far as may not be inconsistent with the express provisions of this Act, the Secretary of Transportation shall, in the disposition of vessels and shipping property as hereinafter provided, in the making of rules and regulations, and in the administration of the shipping laws keep always in view this purpose and object as the primary end to be attained.”

What Is the Marad Waiver?

A component of the law itself is the Jones act, Section 27. This section deals with coastwise trade and requires all goods transported by water between United States ports to be carried by American ships. The objective of the Jones act is of course to foment the American domestic industry. Being really restrictive, that’s where the Marad waiver comes into place.

The Jones Act authorizes the Maritime Administration (MARAD) to waive the United States requirement under certain circumstances. The name of this exception is called Small vessel Marad Waiver which allows foreign vessels to carry out commercial activities with American ports.

To qualify for the waiver, there are certain requirements that need to be met:

  • It must be owned by a United States citizen.
  • The vessel must be at least three years old.
  • The vessel must intend to carry passengers but cannot carry more than twelve during service.

Marad Waiver

How to Apply for the Marad Waiver

There is no need to say that you can apply for the Marad waiver at our Maritime Documentation Center website. You just need to fill out the form on the left side of our page. Our fully SSL-encrypted portal will keep all of your information safe and guess what: you can also access it online! Get your Small Vessel Marad Waiver today and you will not regret it!