The Role of the MARAD Waiver in Placing Foreign Ships in the US

The Maritime Administration grants ships manufactured in other countries a specific concession known as the MARAD waiver. Occasionally, these ships can transport goods from one port to the next. According to, only certain types of boats are eligible for this waiver, and only under certain circumstances. 

As part of the Maritime Administration’s efforts to assist ship-owning corporations, legislation has been passed allowing ships constructed abroad to operate legally in American waters and transport goods to and from American ports. A specific waiver is required if you want to purchase a vessel built in a nation other than your own. 

Your application is being forced upon you by the government to support American shipbuilding. The government will allow you to import your foreign ship if your vessel qualifies and adequately completes the application form.

  •  It is prohibited to utilize foreign-built vessels to transport people for hire or commerce between ports in the United States under the Passenger Vessel Service Act (46 U.S.C. 55103) (incorporated under the Jones Act).
  • To guarantee that privately owned and manufactured boats may only operate in a non-commercial capacity in the United States. However, although transporting people for hire is deemed a commercial use, demise (bareboat) charters are not regarded as commercial uses so long as the charterers are not utilizing the boats for any business purposes.
  • The Passenger Vessel Services Act, on the other hand, grants the authority to the Maritime Administration (MARAD), the federal body responsible for America’s waterborne transportation system, to waive the requirement that the yacht is constructed in the United States in certain situations.

MARAD Waiver

Merchant Marine Act 1920

In order to understand what the waiver is for, we must first analyze why it is being granted. Because of this, the Merchant Marine Act, federal legislation approved by the United States in 1920, came into being. This statute is intended to control maritime trade in American seas and between American ports, among a variety of other goals. 

Congress established it to guarantee a thriving maritime economy in the United States via commercial boats that cruise between American ports carrying products and people. Aside from that, the law also establishes specific seaman’s rights, which have implications for national security, shipbuilding, and other aspects of American business.

The Jones Act

Section 27 of the Merchant Marine Act of 1920 is essential to the law. As a result of the Jones Act, United States citizens and permanent residents must transport all products transported by sea between United States ports on U.S.-flag ships constructed in the United States, owned by United States nationals, and crewed. 

As a means of promoting American business and facilitating foreign commerce, this Act was enacted. However, by definition, it is entirely restricted, which is why exceptions are in place for foreign boats that do not pose a threat to the local market.

What Is The MARAD Small Vessel Waiver Program, And Why Is It Important?

Although this Act was enacted to improve the circumstances for American business, some argue that there are still occasions in which foreign-built boats may still contribute to the growth of American commerce, mainly while serving as commercial passenger vessels. Consequently, under certain conditions, MARAD may suspend the requirement that a boat be constructed entirely in the United States, as stipulated in Section 201 of the Jones Act (Passenger Vessel Services Act) of 1920. A waiver for small vessels, often known as the MARAD Waiver, is granted in this case. Foreign boats to transport goods between American ports is a highly convenient option for individuals who desire to do business between American ports.

What Are Your Chances Of Getting A MARAD Waiver? 

At least three years old and no more than twelve passengers are required to get a waiver for an American citizen’s boat. Application for waivers requires proof of ownership and a current safety record. When filling out the application, be sure to include all of the relevant information, including the purpose of your trip. If you are given a waiver, you must acquire insurance that fulfills the T.S.A.’s rules. Passengers will be covered for any damages or injuries they suffer while on the road with this kind of insurance. If the ship is lost at sea, sunk, or damaged by another vessel, it will benefit from any financial losses. To be eligible for a waiver, you must follow all applicable safety standards (for example, neglecting to wear a seat belt).

Application for the MARAD Waiver over the Internet 

A person may apply online or by mail for the MARAD waiver, and both methods are equally valid options. Afterward, you must submit the MA-1023 online application form together with the appropriate fee to be considered for the position. Our staff at the Maritime Documentation Center can assist you in completing your application for the form to make things simpler for you. 

You might find it on our website, and after it has been submitted, we will check to see that all of the information is accurate before forwarding it to the Maritime Administration. The form will not be returned if there is a problem in the submission process.