MARAD Wavier Explained

Of all of the different forms on our vessel documentation services site, the MARAD Waiver, or the MARAD Small Vessel Waiver Program, specifically, is one that we get the most questions about. To be clear, this is not a kind of vessel documentation that will apply to all that many boat owners. That being said, at Marine Documentation Services, we aim to be a one-stop shop for vessel documentation. In this blog, we’ll go over what this MARAD documentation is, why you might need it, and how we can help.


marad waiver

Our MARAD Waiver

Say you want to have a US commercial passenger vessel, but you don’t have a vessel that was made in the United States. Or alternately, you have a commercial passenger vessel you want to use to transport small amounts of passengers in the United States but you don’t know where the vessel was made. That can be a problem due to the Jones Act. This waiver grants you the ability to operate your commercial passenger vessel anyway. Of course, there are some very stringent rules for this kind of vessel even under the waiver.

The Waiver Requirements

One of the first requirements is that your vessel is at least three years old. If it’s any younger than that, you won’t qualify for the waiver. On top of that, your commercial vessel can’t carry more than 12 passengers. If you plan to carry any more than that, you’ll be in violation of the waiver. Moreover, you absolutely can only carry passengers with the vessel. This is a big one. You can’t apply for this waiver, get it, and then all of sudden go into business towing, or carrying cargo, or fishing commercially, or anything like that. You can only carry up to twelve passengers. Of course, the vessel has to be owned by a citizen of the United States, too. So, if you and your vessel meet all of those requirements, you can apply for the waiver.

Apply for the Waiver Online

We make it easy to apply for this waiver online. All you have to do is go to our site, click on the “MARAD” link down on the left and then fill out the form. We’ve gone to great lengths to make filling out the form easy, and we’re always looking for ways to make it easier. Once you have submitted your request and the applicable fee it will be processed for approval. However, please note that it is ultimately subject to approval from the Administration. Even if your waiver is denied, you won’t get the fee paid back. The good news: most of the waivers are approved. The Administration determines whether or not giving you the waiver would cause (legalese here) “undue adverse effect” on operators and shipbuilders. Should they determine you won’t, then the waiver will be yours.

Thirty-Day Public Notice Regulation

After you’ve sent in the application and the money, you still have another step to take. You have to post how you intend to use your vessel in the Federal Register. You still have to do that even with our expedited electronic service. We can get your form in faster than if you were to mail it in yourself. Of course, you can always send it in by regular mail after having filled it out by hand. That being said, if there are any errors with your document, even small ones, you run the risk of having the entire thing sent back to you. Then, you have to start the entire process all over again. When you file it through us, however, then our document processors can go over the file. They can find and fix any errors, even tiny ones so that your waiver goes through as smoothly as possible.

That electronic process is just one way that we make it easier to file this waiver than before. We’ve recently strengthened our online security. Make no mistake: it was plenty strong before, but we’ve learned that you can’t have too good of security online. Our clients give us their information and they expect that we’ll take good care of it. Through having the strongest security online, we show that we’re equal to that responsibility.

Of course, this waiver is just one of the many kinds of forms that you can find at our site.  It’s important to remember that this particular waiver is not a waiver of any vessel documentation, vessel manning or vessel inspection requirement. Even after this waiver has been received, we strongly recommend that you file for a “Coast-Wise Trade Endorsement as a Passenger Vessel” if your passenger’s vessel is greater than five net tons. Have any question about how to do that? Feel free to give us a call at (800) 535-8570. We’re always glad to answer your questions. Alternately, you could send us a message through our site.