Using a Boat Without Being on the Boat Registry: the MARAD Waiver

Do you have a small vessel that you need to use to carry people right now, but it wasn’t made in America? Does it feel like you don’t have any legal options to use this vessel in the manner that you want? When it comes to what is and isn’t allowed on the boat registry, sometimes, (particularly if you’re new to the process) it isn’t exactly clear. However, if you have a vessel that meets certain standards, you can use it to carry some passengers even if it wasn’t made in America. That’s what the MARAD Small Vessel Waiver is for. 

Basic Requirements of the MARAD Small Vessel Waiver 

For one thing, your vessel can’t be brand new. In fact, it has to be at least three years old. tOn top of that, the vessel can’t be too big, either. You aren’t going to be able to legally use this to carry a large number of passengers. At maximum, this waiver allows you to carry twelve passengers. Again, that’s twelve passengers, not anything else. In fact, you can’t use this for any other activities or uses. Commercial fishing, carrying cargo, towing dredging, or even salvage activities aren’t permitted with this waiver. You can fish for sport, sure, but you can’t sell any of the fish you catch. One more thing to keep in mind: the owner of the vessel has to be a citizen of the United States. 

Specific Questions to Keep in Mind 

Many of the vessel registry regulations exist, in part, to protect different facets of the United States shipping industry. So, with this particular waiver, there are questions that require you to think long and hard about where you’re going to use the vessel and what kind of impact it’s going to have. For example, you have to “provide a statement on the impact that this waiver will have on U. S. shipyards” as well as a statement “on the impact that this vessel will have on other commercial passenger vessel operators, including a statement describing the operations of existing operators.” 

What to Do After the Waiver Has Been Received 

To be clear about this waiver, it doesn’t allow you to waive any requirement of vessel inspection, manning, or even documentation. It just allows you to use this vessel to carry up to twelve passengers legally. That’s it. After you’ve sent it in, the next step should be (provided the vessel is more than five tons) to file for a “Coastwise” trade endorsement as a passenger’s vessel. 

A Better Way Onto the Boat Registry 

You may have read the above paragraph and thought: “sure. But, where can I file for a Coastwise trade endorsement as a passenger’s vessel?” That’s just one of the many purposes of our site. Here, you can file for that endorsement or any other. Moreover, you can renew your documentation through our site, too. To talk to our experts to see how we can meet your needs, call (800) 535-8570 or fill out our contact form.