Passenger Vessel Operators - Federal Maritime Commission
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Passenger Vessel Operators

Passenger Vessel Operators (PVOs) subject to FMC regulations are cruise lines that operate vessels having berth or stateroom accommodations for 50 or more passengers that embark passengers at U.S. ports.

Proof of Financial Responsibility

Proof of financial responsibility is required for PVOs to qualify for issuance of a Performance Certificate (46 CFR § 540.7) and is required for PVOs to qualify for issuance of a Casualty Certificate (46 CFR § 540.25). The U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security is required to refuse clearance (46 USC § 44105) of a vessel at a port or place of departure from the United States that does not have FMC-issued, Performance and Casualty Certificates evidencing that the PVO has obtained the required financial coverage in compliance with Public Law 89-77 (46 USC Chapter 441) and the FMC’s PVO regulations (46 CFR § 540).

PVO Performance Certificates

A PVO must apply for and obtain a FMC-issued Performance Certificate before advertising or booking passengers on a cruise embarking passengers at U.S. ports. The actual coverage amount is determined by the Commission (currently capped at $32 million). PVOs that hold FMC Performance Certificates are required to provide unearned passenger revenue reports (46 CFR § 540.9) to the Commission. Performance Certificates:

PVO Casualty Certificates

A PVO must apply for and obtain a FMC-issued Casualty Certificate before embarking passengers at U.S. ports. The coverage amount is based on the number of passenger accommodations aboard the vessel (46 CFR § 540.24). Casualty Certificates:

  • are used to meet liability incurred for death or injury to passengers or other persons on voyages to or from U.S. ports
  • evidence financial responsibility established by insurance, surety bond, self-insurance, guaranty, and escrow account

Application Process for Evidencing Financial Responsibility

  1. An application for a performance certificate must be submitted at least 60 days in advance of arranging, offering, advertising or providing any water transportation or tickets for a cruise embarking passengers from U.S. ports (whichever is earlier). An application for a casualty certificate must be submitted at least 60 days prior to sailing from a U.S. port.
  2. To apply for either certificate, submit Form FMC-131: Application for Certificate of Financial Responsibility, to the Commission with the appropriate fee for a Performance Certificate and/ or the appropriate fee for a Casualty Certificate. Make your check payable to the Federal Maritime Commission and submit to the Bureau of Certification and Licensing.
  3. Applications may be hand-delivered during normal Commission business hours: 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday, or mailed to: Secretary, Federal Maritime Commission, Room 1046, 800 North Capitol Street, NW, Washington, DC 20573.

Contact Information

Office of Passenger Vessel and Information Processing

Phone: 202-523-5818

Fax: 202-566-5830


Forms & Applications

Application for Certificate of Financial Responsibility (Form FMC-131)

Federal Maritime Commission Passenger Vessel Surety Bond (FMC-132A) and (FMC-132B)

Federal Maritime Commission Guaranty in Respect of Liability for Nonperformance (FMC-133A) and (FMC-133B)