US Flag Opened to 300 Gross Tons or More August 29, 2018
Americans who own yachts larger than 300 gross tons can now flag them in the U.S., thanks to an amendment included on a bill signed August 13th by President Donald Trump. The new legislation reforms a law written in 1920 that defined a yacht as a vessel with a maximum volume of 300 gross tons, meaning Americans with yachts exceeding that limit were only able to flag their yachts in the U.S. if they registered them as commercial vessels.
Large yachts cannot carry cargo or passengers for hire, but the law appears to allow bareboat chartering. The vessels must also comply with other requirements for U.S. documentation, including citizenship requirements for the yacht’s owner and crew, and owners must disclose the identity of the yacht’s beneficial owner to the U.S. Coast Guard.
A specific U.S. Large Yacht Code is now being developed by the U.S. Coast Guard that will go into effect in 2020. In the meantime, a private yacht over 300 gross tons will now be able to fly the U.S. flag.
Kitty McGowan, president of the U.S. Superyacht Association, which spearheaded the initiative and advocated for its passage, believes that the economic impact of more large yachts being flagged in the U.S. could be significant, as these large vessels provide more opportunities for American crew, and keep yachts traveling in U.S. waters and spending more time in our repair and refit yards.