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Captain nationality on a private US flagged yacht under 24 meters
Posted: Tuesday, September 15, 2015 6:22 PM
Joined: 10/05/2011
Posts: 4


I know for sure that rules are very strict for any commercial US flagged yacht: the Captain needs to be either US citizen or Green Card holder.

But what about private vessels? Does the same apply? Can anyone give a reference for an official US document source where it's clearly stated what the regulations are on this matter?

I'm Italian, I hold a B1/B2 visa, an MCA Master 200 T CoC, and I have been offered a job on a 23meters sailing yacht which I'd like to accept.

Thanks to all of you who can assist!

Posted: Tuesday, September 15, 2015 8:22 PM

US Flag needs US master-good for US. You have to be legal to work in the USA if your in the USA. Offshore does not matter as much but watch out when you enter US waters to clear in. No green card or Visa will get you booted out right then and there.

§ 15.720 Use of non-U.S. licensed and/or documented personnel. (a) United States vessels which need to replace one or more persons while on a foreign voyage and outside the jurisdiction of the United States, in order to meet manning requirements, may use non-U.S. credentialed personnel without a TWIC, except for the positions of master and radio officer, until the vessel returns to a port at which in the most expeditious manner replacements who are citizens of the United States can be obtained. (b) The citizenship requirements of 46 U.S.C. 8103(a) and (b) and the TWIC requirement of 46 U.S.C. 70105 are waived, except for the requirement that the master must be a U.S. citizen holding a TWIC, with respect to the following vessels: (1) A U.S.-documented offshore supply vessel (OSV) (as that term is defined in 46 U.S.C. 2101(19)) that is operating from a foreign port; and (2) A U.S.-documented mobile offshore drilling unit (MODU) (as that term is defined in 46 U.S.C. 2101(15a)) that is operating beyond the water above the U.S. Outer Continental Shelf. (c) The waiver provided in paragraph (b) of this section does not apply to any vessel operating in water above the U.S. Outer Continental Shelf (as that term is defined in 43 U.S.C. 1331(a)). (d) The master shall assure that any replacements of crewmembers by non-U.S. citizens made in accordance with this section will be with an individual who holds a credential which is equivalent in experience, training, and other qualifications to the U.S. credential required for the position and that the person possesses or will possess the training required to communicate to the extent required by §15.730 of this part. [CGD 89–061, 55 FR 1212, Jan. 12, 1990, as amended by USCG–2006–24371, 74 FR 11261, Mar. 16, 2

Michelle Otero Valdes
Posted: Tuesday, September 15, 2015 8:32 PM
Joined: 02/06/2012
Posts: 2

46 U.S.C. § 8103 addresses citizenship requirements.  Section (a) provides that only a U.S. citizen may serve as master, C/E, radio officer or officer in charge of a deck watch or engineering watch on a U.S. documented vessel.  


Posted: Friday, September 18, 2015 1:17 AM
Aslong as the boat is private, they dont bother you, they sometimes do random check but more on boat safety compliance. The owner of the yacht hiring you should know if he is allowed to have you as a Captain or not. He must have been hiring foreign Captain before without problems.
Posted: Friday, September 18, 2015 3:01 AM
Joined: 10/07/2008
Posts: 7

US law clearly requires US flagged vessels to be staffed by citizens or legal residents (except as noted).  This applies to private and commercial vessels.  The owner should hire a US crew for the passage south with you aboard as a "guest."  You can consider the time aboard a learning experience and you should be compensated (after the flag changes). 

The vessel/owner can be fined $5000 per crew non-US member aboard (first offence, $10,000 @ for subsequent offences). 

You can be barred from travel through the USA for 10 years for "Working" illegally in the US.    What happens if you have to pull into San Juan and US Customs/Border Patrol comes aboard?  Why run the risk?

Suggest the owner hire a US crew until the vessel's flag is changed over or get the paper-work in hand before you take over.  Do you really want to work for someone who puts you at risk?

Posted: Friday, September 18, 2015 10:51 PM
Joined: 10/05/2011
Posts: 4

Thanks to all of you for the replies and the advise given on the matter, all very much appreciated
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