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e-CFR data is current as of September 24, 2020

Title 19Chapter IPart 4 → §4.20


Title 19: Customs Duties
PART 4—VESSELS IN FOREIGN AND DOMESTIC TRADES


§4.20   Tonnage taxes.

(a) Except as specified in §4.21, a regular tonnage tax or duty of 2 cents per net ton, not to exceed in the aggregate 10 cents per net ton in any 1 year, shall be imposed at each entry on all vessels which shall be entered in any port of the United States from any foreign port or place in North America, Central America, the West Indies, the Bahama Islands, the Bermuda Islands, the coast of South America bordering on the Caribbean Sea (considered to include the mouth of the Orinoco River), or the high seas adjacent to the U.S. or the above listed foreign locations, and on all vessels (except vessels of the U.S., recreational vessels, and barges, as defined in §2101 of Title 46) that depart a U.S. port or place and return to the same port or place without being entered in the United States from another port or place, and regular tonnage tax of 6 cents per net ton, not to exceed 30 cents per net ton per annum, shall be imposed at each entry on all vessels which shall be entered in any port of the United States from any other foreign port. In determining the port of origin of a voyage to the United States and the rate of tonnage tax, the following shall be used as a guide:

(1) When the vessel has proceeded in ballast from a port to which the 6-cent rate is applicable to a port to which the 2-cent rate applies and there has laden cargo or taken passengers, tonnage tax upon entry in the United States shall be assessed at the 2-cent rate.

(2) The same rate shall be applied in a case in which the vessel has transported cargo or passengers from a 6-cent port to a 2-cent port when all such cargo or passengers have been unladen or discharged at the 2-cent port, without regard to whether the vessel thereafter has proceeded to the United States in ballast or with cargo or passengers laden or taken on board at the 2-cent port.

(3) The 6-cent rate shall be applied when the vessel proceeds from a 2-cent port to a 6-cent port en route to the United States under circumstances similar to paragraph (a) (1) or (2) of this section.

(4) If the vessel arrives in the United States with cargo or passengers taken at two or more ports to which different rates are applicable, tonnage tax shall be collected at the higher rate.

(b) The tonnage year shall be computed from the date of the first entry of the vessel concerned, without regard to the rate of the payment made at that entry, and shall expire on the day preceding the corresponding date of the following year. There may be 5 payments at the maximum (6 cent) and 5 at the minimum (2-cent) rate during a tonnage year, so that the maximum assessment of tonnage duty may amount to 40 cent per net ton for the tonnage year of a vessel engaged in alternating trade.

(c) A vessel shall also be subject on every entry from a foreign port or place, whether or not regular tonnage tax is payable on the particular entry, to the payment of a special tonnage tax and to the payment of light money at the rates and under the circumstances specified in the following table:

Classes of vesselsRate per net ton
Regular taxSpecial taxLight money
Vessels of the United States:
1. Under provisional register, without regard to citizenship of officers$.02 or $.06
2. All others:
(i) If all the officers are citizens.02 or .06
(ii) If any officer is not a citizen.02 or .0610.501.50
Undocumented vessels which are owned by citizens2.02 or .06.503.50
Foreign vessels:
1. Of nations whose vessels are exempted from special tax or light money.02 or .06
2. All others:
(i) Built in the U.S.02 or .06.30.50
(ii) Not built in the U.S.02 or .06.50.50
(iii) In addition to (i) or (ii) of 2., Foreign Vessels, when entering from a foreign port or place where vessels of the U.S. are not ordinarily permitted to enter and trade3a.02 or .0642.004.50

1This does not apply on the first arrival of a vessel in a port of the United States from a foreign or intercoastal voyage if all the officers who are not citizens are below the grade of master and are filling vacancies which occurred on the voyage.

2This special tax and light money do not apply if the vessel is documented as a vessel of the United States before leaving the port.

3This does not apply if the vessel is under a certificate of protection and the owner or master files with the port director the oath required by 46 U.S.C. App. 129. An unrecorded bill of sale is not such a document as will exempt a vessel from the payment of light money under 46 U.S.C. App. 128, and the recording of such bill of sale after the arrival of the vessel is not sufficient to relieve it from the payment of the tax.

3aThe Democratic People's Republic of Korea (North Korea), does not ordinarily permit vessels of the United States to enter and trade.

4This is to be collected on each entry of a vessel from such a port or place.

(d) Tonnage tax shall be imposed upon a vessel even though she enters a port of the United States only for orders.

(e) The fact that a vessel passes through the Panama Canal does not affect the rate of tonnage tax otherwise applicable to the vessel.

(f) For the purpose of computing tonnage tax, the net tonnage of a vessel stated in the vessel's marine document shall be accepted unless (1) such statement is manifestly wrong, in which case the net tonnage shall be estimated, pending admeasurement of the vessel, or the tonnage reported for her by any recognized classification society may be accepted, or (2) an appendix is attached to the marine document showing a net tonnage ascertained under the so-called “British rules” or the rules of any foreign country which have been accepted as substantially in accord with the rules of the United States, in which case the tonnage so shown may be accepted and the date the appendix was issued shall be noted on the tonnage tax certificate, Customs Form 1002, and on the Vessel Entrance or Clearance Statement, Customs Form 1300. For the purpose of computing tonnage tax on a vessel with a tonnage mark and dual tonnages, the higher of the net tonnages stated in the vessel's marine document or tonnage certificate shall be used unless the Customs officer concerned is satisfied by report of the boarding officer, statement or certificate of the master, or otherwise that the tonnage mark was not submerged at the time of arrival. Whether the vessel has a tonnage mark, and if so, whether the mark was submerged on arrival, shall be noted on Customs Form 1300 by the boarding officer.

(g) The decision of the Commissioner of Customs is the final administrative decision on any question of interpretation relating to the collection of tonnage tax or to the refund of such tax when collected erroneously or illegally, and any question of doubt shall be referred to him for instructions.

(h) Any person adversely affected by a decision of the Commissioner of Customs relating to the collection of tonnage tax, or to the refund of such tax when collected erroneously or illegally, may appeal the decision in the Court of International Trade provided that the appeal action is commenced in accordance with the rules of the Court within 2 years after the cause of action first accrues.

[28 FR 14596, Dec. 31, 1963]

Editorial Note: For Federal Register citations affecting §4.20, see the List of CFR Sections Affected, which appears in the Finding Aids section of the printed volume and at www.govinfo.gov.

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