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Old 13-09-2013, 18:55   #1
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Recreation or Commercial documentation and clearing in

I'm thinking about changing my USCG documentation from recreational to commercial so I can do some chartering. My question is, later on down the road when I go cruising, will there be any differences, costs, red tape, etc from having a commercial document versus a recreational document when clearing in?
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Old 13-09-2013, 19:25   #2
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Re: Recreation or Commercial documentation and clearing in

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Originally Posted by CPO View Post
I'm thinking about changing my USCG documentation from recreational to commercial so I can do some chartering. My question is, later on down the road when I go cruising, will there be any differences, costs, red tape, etc from having a commercial document versus a recreational document when clearing in?

indeed. everything i have read list a price, and rules, for a commercial boat to check in. much more, just in port costs. also safety gear is scrutinized more.
but i only know, what i have read.
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Old 13-09-2013, 21:17   #3
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Re: Recreation or Commercial documentation and clearing in

Scoobert, have you ever in your life checked a vessel into a foreign country? I am guessing not, and wondering why you are trying (incorrectly) to answer ths question?

As to the question . . . The answer is no, it will generally make no difference. IF/when you actually decide to try to charter in the foreign country, you will then be faced with all sorts of red tape and paperwork (or just do it undeclared). But your documentation will (generally) make no difference.

Note:I say "generally" because you can never guess what some official will pick up on any given day. Mostly they are nice and helpful people, but sometimes you get a bad one or a bad day.
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Old 14-09-2013, 03:57   #4
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Re: Recreation or Commercial documentation and clearing in

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Scoobert, have you ever in your life checked a vessel into a foreign country? I am guessing not, and wondering why you are trying (incorrectly) to answer ths question?

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but i only know, what i have read.
i thought this was pretty clear?
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Old 14-09-2013, 08:25   #5
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Re: Recreation or Commercial documentation and clearing in

Why would you want to change the designation of your vessel to begin with?

You are not required to change the Documentation to commercial if you run with six passengers or less, which also exempts you from mandatory vessel inspections. The only thing required on a Six Pax vessel is a USCG Captain's License and the mandatory safety equipment. You can have the USCG Axillary do a courtesy inspection on Six Pax vessels, which the insurance companies like.

I am not sure why Estarzinger got mean about this since he obviously doesn't know that some countries do in fact monitor commercial vessels entering their countries.

Some countries require higher customs fees and an explanation why your are bring a commercial vessel into their country.
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Old 14-09-2013, 15:48   #6
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Re: Recreation or Commercial documentation and clearing in

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I am not sure why Estarzinger got mean about this since he obviously doesn't know that some countries do in fact monitor commercial vessels entering their countries.
scoobert has never cleared any vessel into a foreign country (Much less a commercial classed one operating purely for pleasure). I did not understand why he was trying to answer the question when there are plenty of people where who do have experience with foreign clearance (You among them), and I was just tired of people popping off about things they knew absolutely nothing at all about. And I just asked two simple questions . . . .not exactly 'mean' unless you have a really thin skin.

I have in fact cleared both commercial class and pleasure class vessels into quite a few foreign countries. In (almost) all cases if you are operating for pleasure it does not matter at all what it says on your documentation. It only matters if you are in fact operating commercially in their waters. If you are commercially classed you may get asked, but you can say "no we are only operating here for pleasure, with no charter" and then you are treated as a pleasure vessel (no tax, no extra fees, no safety inspection ,etc, etc). This is usually very clear and simple for smallish (under 20m) sailboats (which is specifically what the OP was talking about) - you are (generally) only treated as commercial if you are in fact chartering (or other commercial operations), but even, for instance, I have been aboard a large commercial class ocean tug clearing into the Azores which the owner was 'just cruising' at that moment and we were treated as a (large) pleasure vessel.

I would be interested if you can you cite a direct personal experience clearing a commercial classed smallish sailing boat into a country while you were truly operating purely for pleasure and not chartering/operating commercially, and still being treated as a fully commercial vessel? I have never had that experience, but I acknowledged in my above post that it could occasionally happen on a bad day. Unfortunately some charter boats try to say that the guests are 'only friends' and they are not chartering, so the officials sometime are suspicious and have to make a judgment call.
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Old 14-09-2013, 16:20   #7
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Ive moved a lot of midsized sailing vessels with USCG "commercial" operational endorsements (coastwise, etc...) across borders and never had an issue or expense related to the type of USCG documentation. Note that a USCG registered vessal can have both "commercial" and recreational endorsements concurrently. For example, a typical list of operational endorsements for a mid sized sailing vessel running charters in US waters might include: recreational, registry, and coastwise.

Yes, if you are actually operating commercial in US waters (or most other countries too), then your saftey equipment requirements etc will be more stringent.

Unless you are actually operating commercially, running charters etc, your vessel is unlikely to be treated any differently based upon its USCG registration endorsements when crossing international borders. Of course, you can always just draw the wrong official on the wrong day, and I have, but never over this issue.
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Old 14-09-2013, 17:01   #8
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Re: Recreation or Commercial documentation and clearing in

All of my boats were " commercial " and I only sailed in the Carib . No problem and many times your charges might be less . Those of you familiar with a commercial doc know that your tonnage will decrease when you change from pleasure to ' commercial , any fees that are based on tonnage will decrease . It will be near impossible to charter in ' foreign waters ' with out local participation .
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Old 14-09-2013, 17:23   #9
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In most countries, if it looks like a yacht , it will be treated like a yacht. Merely documenting your vessel as commercial doesn't mean it is so. It's only commercial if you take paying passengers, or undertake paid for activity. Then your documentation is irrelevant, its whatever the gist country want you to do is what you do.


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Old 15-09-2013, 08:44   #10
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Re: Recreation or Commercial documentation and clearing in

To clarify for everyone......My boat is foreign built (South Africa), so, as far as I know, to legally charter in U.S. waters, I need a Jones Act waiver and re-document as commercial. When applying for the waiver, a question asks where the intended commercial operation will take place. I responded with MD, VA, NC, FL and USVI. The nice lady at DOT told me that a waiver isn't needed for USVI but that I should check with the USCG about the documentation requirements. At the end of the day, I really wanted to charter in USVI, so I cancelled the application. Which led me to ask about clearing in as commercial vs recreational.

My understanding is that if you charge money, you're operating a commercial vessel for USCG purposes and it doesn't matter if you operate as an uninspected vessel or an inspected vessel as far as documentation goes. This is a separate matter from the safety equipment, etc of an inspected vessel. I might not have this correct, but I'm sure a call to the USCG will provide the needed answers.

My original question about clearing in seems to have been answered. Thanks!
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Old 15-09-2013, 09:43   #11
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To clarify for everyone......My boat is foreign built (South Africa), so, as far as I know, to legally charter in U.S. waters, I need a Jones Act waiver and re-document as commercial. When applying for the waiver, a question asks where the intended commercial operation will take place. I responded with MD, VA, NC, FL and USVI. The nice lady at DOT told me that a waiver isn't needed for USVI but that I should check with the USCG about the documentation requirements. At the end of the day, I really wanted to charter in USVI, so I cancelled the application. Which led me to ask about clearing in as commercial vs recreational.

My understanding is that if you charge money, you're operating a commercial vessel for USCG purposes and it doesn't matter if you operate as an uninspected vessel or an inspected vessel as far as documentation goes. This is a separate matter from the safety equipment, etc of an inspected vessel. I might not have this correct, but I'm sure a call to the USCG will provide the needed answers.

My original question about clearing in seems to have been answered. Thanks!
Jones Act (MRAD) waiver is easy to do so you might consider it anyway. Might come in handy in the future. If so, the USCG endorsement to apply for is "Limited Coastwise".

If you receive ANY form of compensation, not just money, you are considered "passengers for hire".

As long as you carry no more than 6 passengers (and vessel is under 100 tons) then it can be operated as an uninspected vessel.
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