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Old 28-08-2008, 17:12   #1
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Required License(s) for Operating a Crewed Charter?

Hello,

I've received mixed answers thus far and am hoping to get some clarification on what licenses are required by 1) law 2) insurance companies to operate a crewed boat with 6 guests aboard.

This is assuming the boat will not operate in US/USVI waters. Most likely BVI and Grenadines.

Thank you in advance!
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Old 28-08-2008, 18:28   #2
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You might get opinions or mis-information disguised as fact here and should best go to the relevant regulatory authority in the country where you plan to register and operate the boat to inquire. I'm not surprised you have received conflicting answers as the is no one single standard requirement internationally.
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Old 01-09-2008, 18:33   #3
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The question is unclear as to whether the vessel is a private vessel or a commercial one, whether the crew is part time or full time and whether the "guests" are really guests or are actually present as fares. This lack of definition could perhaps be the reason for the differing answers.

Also your insurance may have a differing view of the relative risk/accountability than the coasties.
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Old 02-09-2008, 09:24   #4
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Hi Starbolin,

My apologies for the lack of information. The boat would be privately owned and not part of a charter fleet. The guests would be paying for an inclusive week long trip (meals, drinks, crew etc). The crew would be the owners. I'm not sure if that qualifies this as a "commercial vessel" since a charter fare would be paid by the guests? I hope that helps clarify things a bit. Thanks.
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Old 02-09-2008, 09:39   #5
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In the USA when money or any other sort of compensation changes hands, then it is considered a charter. People over the years have tried all sorts of wild ideas in order to get around this and some have gone so far as the Supreme Court in order to fight it. Each time, it was ruled to be a charter.

I have no idea what other countries define as charters. Perhaps they have some sort of loophole or lack of regulations that allow someone to come aboard who is compensating without there being any safety requirements or for there to be minimal requirements. Its probably the same countries that have had these horrific ferry capsizes. Personally, I would not take my family out on one of these boats with no or substandard safety requirements.
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Old 02-09-2008, 12:44   #6
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Sounds like a commercial charter and the business/economic/trade or similar attache at one of their consulates should be able to tell you what authorities to contact. Odds are you would need a business license--which may not be available to non-natives--as well as the necessary captain's credentials. And there could be regulations as to how your vessel would have to be flagged, or how long it could be kept in country as well.

Your best advice is probably to call them, and follow up with something in writing because "No, I never said that" seems to be a common disease. Then check their actual laws out, in print, and ask around at the docks to see what else you haven't found out about.
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Old 02-09-2008, 13:12   #7
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Thanks Hellosailor,

Since a crewed charter such as this would (in theory) operate anywhere in the carribean, do you mean to say that you'd need to check with every country from the Bahamas to Venezuela?
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Old 02-09-2008, 14:05   #8
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cb, that would depend on whether you are a chartered boat that is PASSING THROUGH their waters, or whether you as a businessman are DOING BUSINESS in their waters, i.e. soliciting charters, originating, or picking up and dropping off guests there.

And yes, every nation will have different rules for you to run afoul of. If you plan to start a global charter company, first budget for a global legal advisor.[g]
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Old 02-09-2008, 17:51   #9
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BVI rules on chartering are very complex and you will typically get different answers depending on which Gov. Agency you ask.

Basically as I understand it from looking into it personally in the BVI.... If you are the owner of record you can charter. If you are not the vessel owner you can not.

BUT, it is not that simple... unless you have a license or operate under the license of some one else (which is more likely) you can not charter. You will have to pay and collect taxes from each passenger for each day they will be on the boat and account for it.

If your boat is Imported into the BVI and you pay full import fees... not talking about the Temp import most of us do every year... you are limited to a set number of charters you can perform for pay. As I recall this is about 7 total and it makes no difference if the charters are for an hour day sail or several weeks... a charter is a charter.

You will have to have insurance on your boat as one for hire and the company your working through will also have to have insurance. If your considering using a US based company... just about need to forget about it. Will probably have to use a BVI or international company and feels can be significantly higher than for your owners policy. Most of these will require you to show proof of proficiency to get a reasonable rate. That basically means you have to have a USCG license or equilivant... even if you not going to charter in the US waters... it is just an indication of proficient not a license to do.

Every Island nation you enter will have different Customs and Immigration rules for a Crewed Charter than if you were going bareboat. You often will be required to post a bond for cost of airfare return for your crew and show the passengers have means to support themselves and ability to leave the island nation if they can't by the boat they came in on. This is generally much more sever than if your simply chartering. Your Immigration and customs fees for the boat will normally be much greater.

One of the lingering problems is the Advance Notification rules that keep popping up as will soon be applied, delayed, going to apply... basically these rules if ever actually put into place will require you give advanced notice of your arrival and all the info on the boat and crew/ passengers and when and where you will be entering. Hopefully these planned rules will never go into effect for cruisers but very well may for commercial charters and would be a pain.

I looks over all these rules just for the USVI and BVI and have come to the conclusion it just isn't worth it in financial terms due to the limitations and fees involve and the massive difficulty in getting the permits. Unless you have approval to be a resident, you are limited to a max of 30 day stay in BVI but some short term extension are given but the lines you have to stand in to get them make it unrealistic when it is simpler just to go away for a few days then return. But it is up to the individual Immigrations officer how many days you get.

Bottom line is they do not want you to take away any locals jobs. In the BVI to do business you are expected to employ "Belongers" when ever possible and to train them for jobs they are not yet qualified to do if your unable to find a qualified Belonger. You are the non belonger and the officialdom isn't very willing to assist you take money out of the belongers hands or out of country.

It just isn't something you would normally consider for a part time of when the occasion arises. Mess up with the Customs and Immigration or Work Force people and it will ruin you day.... many of them...
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Old 10-09-2008, 17:55   #10
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If the boat is US flagged I believe that it operates under the rules and regs of the USCG. If you take paying passengers, regardless of where and regardless of vessel ownership, I am certain you must have a USCG licensed Master aboard. There is no distinction between "commercial" and private ownership or a commercial or private vessel. If you are a US flagged vessel and you have any person onboard who is paying to be on the boat...it is a charter.

In addition, the rules on operating a '6 pack' in foreign waters are a little fuzzy....the captain *may* also be required to be STCW certified. And...now...must have a TWIC card. And the vessel itself must be documented for "coastwise" trade...unless it is foreign built, then it will need a MARAD waiver before it can be so documented. And to make it more interesting, the owner of the vessel must be a US citizen in order to obtain "Coastwise" documentation.

If you are not a US Flagged or USCG Documented vessel, then check the rules and regs of the country the vessel is flagged in. And then check the rules and regs of the BVI... I bet that will be fun.

Your insurance is an entirely different matter. Your policy now is most likely a pleasure boating policy and as such is null and void if you take charters. A charter policy will likely be 2-3x the cost of your present policy.

Welcome to the charter biz. Hope this helps

Best

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Old 10-09-2008, 18:02   #11
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Yes....commercial insurance in the USA is a LOT more than yacht insurance. I see the bill once a year.
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Old 09-03-2010, 08:25   #12
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ditto for british flagged vessels,any rya/mca qualification needs a commercial endorsement plus stcw certs.
also vessel should be in survey etc.
see www.mcga.gov.uk
for latest rules for crewed charter operators,
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