MARAD Waiver for Using a Vessel That’s Not on the Boat Registry

Did you recently come into possession of a foreign-built vessel that you want to use on American waters? Do you have an undocumented vessel that you would like to make some money with, but you don’t want to run afoul of the powers that be to do so? Plenty of vessel owners have been in your position. The truth is that, yes, some vessels will qualify for a particular waiver that will allow for legal operation in America, even if they aren’t on the boat registry. This form of documentation is called a “MARAD Waiver,” and as with so many other forms of boat documentation, we can help. 

Who Can Use a MARAD Waiver 

If you go through our site, you may note that there are certain forms that a broad spectrum of vessels qualify for. For the most part, the MARAD waiver is not among them. There are specific requirements to this form. To wit, qualifying vessels must be at least three years old. Additionally, the intended use of this vessel must be to carry passengers. Something else to keep in mind: the vessel must be owned by a citizen of the United States of America. 

What You Get With this Waiver

Put simply, you get limited commercial passenger-carrying capabilities with this waiver. ONce you’ve gotten a MARAD waiver, you can carry passengers on your vessel. But, (and this is very important to keep in mind) you cannot carry more than twelve passengers at any one time. Despite the size of the vessel, twelve passengers is the maximum. Sure, you can have fewer than that, but more than twelve is a violation of the MARAD waiver. 

What You Can’t Do With this Waiver 

This isn’t a form of documentation that lends itself to much interpretative leeway. It can be used to carry passengers only. That’s it. You cannot use your vessel for fishing commercially, carrying cargo (instead of passengers) towing, salvage, dredging, or anything of that ilk. Now, you are allowed to fish for sport. But, that’s just it – you have to be fishing for sport. You can’t fish for sport and then sell the fish you catch commercially. In summary, so long as you’re using your vessel to carry twelve passengers or less, you should be OK. 

Next Steps: Getting on the Boat Registry and Staying There 

While it’s not an “official” next step, there is an action that many vessel owners take after their MARAD waiver has been received. Then, they file for a “Coastwise Trade Endorsement as a Passenger Vessel,” (provided that the vessel measures greater than five net tons). Just as with the MARAD waiver itself, that’s another form of documentation that you can file for at our site. In fact, you can find all of the forms that you’ll need here for the course of vessel ownership. If you have any questions about if you qualify for the MARAD waiver or any of our other forms, call (800) 535-8570.