Carrying passengers for hire in US domestic waters is regulated by the US Coast Guard and can require substantial interaction, inspection, and compliance.

To carry passengers for hire in domestic waters of the US you may need a USCG Certificate of Inspection (COI). If your vessel will carry six (6) passengers or less, or, if your vessel is larger than 100 gross tons under admeasurement rules and you carry less than twelve (12) passengers, your vessel can operate as an "Uninspected Small Passenger Vessel" which only requires the same vessel requirements as a private vessel.

However, license requirements for the captain and crew still apply. In year's past contract's were written to show the charter as a "bareboat" charter where the vessel was provided without a crew and then the crew was contracted separately. This form of charter is now expressly prohibited. 

If your vessel exceed those six or twelve passenger limits then the vessel must be inspected and issued a COI per the following regulations:

  • 46 CFR Subchapter T
    Under 100GT, less than 150 passengers and/or less than 50 overnight passengers;
  • 46 CFR Subchapter K
    Under 100 GT
  • 46 CFR Subchapter H
    Over 100 GT