Marad Small Vessel Waiver

The Marad Small Vessel Waiver Program Explained in Simple Terms

The MARAD waiver deals with commercial boats operating in the United States. It falls under the Jones Act and requires that boats used in commerce be built in the United States, though there are a few exceptions that allow for foreign-made vessels. The Passenger Vessel Services Act is another part of the Jones Act and specifically, the MARAD small vessel waiver program allows for MARAD to waive the requirement that boats be built in the United States. Keep reading to find out more.

What are the Eligibility Requirements?

There are certain requirements that must be met to be eligible for the small vessel waiver. Understanding what they are can help you determine if you should take the time to apply for the program. To be eligible, your vessel must:

  • Be owned by a citizen or entity in the United States
  • Be at least three years old
  • Be used to carry passengers only
  • Have a capacity of 12 passengers, when in service
  • Adhere to United States Coast Guard guidelines

There’s also the consideration of marine diesel engines. If your marine diesel engine is certified by the United States Environmental Protection Agency as a recreational vessel, you may not be able to use it to transport passengers in a commercial capacity. 

How Does the Program Work?

There are a couple of steps you can take to apply for the MARAD small vessel waiver. It’s faster and easier to apply online, but you also have the option to apply by mail. If you use the online system, you can also pay the fee at the same time. Here’s how the process works:

  • Fill out and submit the waiver application (online or by mail)
  • A public notice is issued by MARAD, which lasts for 30 days and includes about the vessel and its intended use
  • MARAD will investigate the vessel and its impact on commerce in the United States
  • If approved, you will be issued the waiver
  • The waiver should be included with the other boat documentation and kept in a safe and dry location on board the vessel

You can expect the entire process, from submission of the application to issuance of the waiver (if approved) to take between two and three months. Keep this in mind if you plan to use your vessel for commerce, as you won’t be allowed to operate it as such until you have the approval and documentation to go with it. 

Marad Small Vessel Waiver

Reasons for Denial

There are a couple of reasons why you may experience a small vessel waiver denial.

  • The introduction of the vessel would have a negative impact on commerce in the area
  • The boat is intended for use in commercial fishing, cargo, towing, dredging, or salvage
  • Any indication of fraud (a waiver can be revoked if fraud is discovered after approval)

If you know that your vessel will be denied, it’s not worth the $500 fee or the time and effort to apply. 

Do you need more help navigating the MARAD small vessel waiver program? You’re in the right place. Contact the Vessel Documentation Online today with all of your questions.