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

Title 19Chapter IPart 4 → Subject Group

Title 19: Customs Duties

Tonnage Tax and Light Money

§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.

§4.21   Exemptions from tonnage taxes.

(a) Tonnage taxes and light money shall be suspended in whole or in part whenever the President by proclamation shall so direct.

(b) The following vessels, or vessels arriving in the circumstances as defined below, shall be exempt from tonnage tax and light money:

(1) It comes into port for bunkers (including water), sea stores, or ship's stores; transacts no other business in the port; and departs within 24 hours after its arrival.

(2) It arrives in distress, even though required to enter.

(3) It is brought into port by orders of United States naval authorities and transacts no business while in port other than the taking on of bunkers, sea stores, or ship's stores.

(4) It is a vessel of war or other vessel which is owned by, or under the complete control and management of the United States or the government of a foreign country, and which is not carrying passengers or merchandise in trade or, if in ballast, which is not arriving from a foreign port during the usual course of its employment as a vessel engaged in trade.

(5) It is a yacht or other pleasure vessel not carrying passengers or merchandise in trade.

(6) It is engaged exclusively in scientific activities.

(7) It is engaged exclusively in laying or repairing cables.

(8) It is engaged in whaling or other fisheries, even though it may have entered a foreign port for fuel or supplies, if it did not carry passengers or merchandise in trade.

(9) It is a passenger vessel making three trips or more a week between a port of the United States and a foreign port.

(10) It is used exclusively as a ferry boat, including a car ferry.

(11) It enters otherwise than by sea from a foreign port at which tonnage or lighthouse duties or equivalent taxes are not imposed on vessels of the United States (applicable only where the vessel arrives from a port in the province of Ontario, Canada).

(12) It is a coastwise-qualified vessel solely engaged in the coastwise trade (although arriving from a foreign port or place, it is engaged in the transportation of merchandise or passengers, or the towing of a vessel other than a vessel in distress, between points in the U.S. via a foreign point) (see §§4.80, 4.80a, 4.80b, and 4.92).

(13) It is a vessel entering directly from the Virgin Islands (U.S.), American Samoa, the islands of Guam, Wake, Midway, Canton, or Kingman Reef, or Guantanamo Bay Naval Station.

(14) It is a vessel making regular daily trips between any port of the United States and any port in Canada wholly upon interior waters not navigable to the ocean, except that such a vessel shall pay tonnage taxes upon her first arrival in each calendar year.

(15) It is a vessel arriving at a port in the United States which, while proceeding between ports in the United States, touched at a foreign port under circumstances which would have exempted it from making entry under section 441(4), Tariff Act of 1930, as amended (19 U.S.C. 1441(4)), had it touched at a United States port.

[28 FR 14596, Dec. 31, 1963, as amended by T.D. 72-264, 37 FR 20317, Sept. 29, 1972; T.D. 75-110, 40 FR 21027, May 15, 1975; T.D. 75-206, 40 FR 34586, Aug. 18, 1975; T.D. 79-276, 44 FR 61956, Oct. 29, 1979; T.D. 83-214, 48 FR 46512, Oct. 13, 1983; T.D. 93-12, 58 FR 13197, Mar. 10, 1993; CBP Dec. 12-21, 77 FR 73308, Dec. 10, 2012]

§4.22   Exemptions from special tonnage taxes.

Vessels of the following nations are exempted by treaties, Presidential proclamations, or orders of the Secretary of the Treasury from the payment of any higher tonnage duties than are applicable to vessels of the United States and are exempted from the payment of light money:

Algeria   Korea
Antigua and Barbuda   Kuwait
Arab Republic of Egypt   Latvia
Argentina   Lebanon
Australia   Liberia
Austria   Libya
Bahamas, The   Lithuania
Bahrain   Luxembourg
Bangladesh   Malaysia
Barbados   Malta
Belgium   Marshall Islands, Republic of
Belize   Mauritius
Bermuda   Mexico
Bolivia   Monaco
Brazil   Morocco
Bulgaria   Nauru, Republic of
Burma   Netherlands
Canada   Netherlands Antilles
Chile   New Zealand
Colombia   Nicaragua
Cook Islands   Nigeria
Costa Rica   Norway
Cuba   Oman
Cyprus   Pakistan
Czechoslovakia   Panama
Denmark (including the Faeroe Islands)   Papua New Guinea
Dominica   Paraguay
Dominican Republic   People's Republic of China
Ecuador   Peru
El Salvador   Philippines
Estonia   Poland
Ethiopia   Portugal
Fiji   Qatar
Finland   Rumania
France   Saudi Arabia
Gambia, The   Senegal
German Democratic Republic   Singapore, Republic
German Federal Republic   Somali, Republic
Ghana   Spain
Great Britain (including the Cayman Islands)   Sri Lanka
Greece   St. Vincent and The Grenadines
Greenland   Surinam, Republic of
Guatemala   Sweden
Guinea, Republic of   Switzerland
Guyana   Syrian Arab Republic
Haiti   Taiwan
Honduras   Thailand
Hong Kong   Togo
Hungarian People's Republic   Tonga
Iceland   Tunisia
India   Turkey
Indonesia   Tuvalu
Iran   Union of South Africa
Iraq   Union of Soviet Socialist Republics
Ireland (Eire)   United Arab Emirates (Abu Dhabi, Ajman, Dubai, Fujairah, Ras Al Khaimah, Sharjah, and Umm Al Qaiwain)
Israel   Uruguay
Italy   Vanuatu, Republic of
Ivory Coast, Republic of   Venezuela
Jamaica   Yugoslavia
Japan   Zaire

[28 FR 14596, Dec. 31, 1963]

Editorial Note: For Federal Register citations affecting §4.22, see the List of CFR Sections Affected, which appears in the Finding Aids section of the printed volume and at www.govinfo.gov.

§4.23   Certificate of payment and cash receipt.

Upon each payment of tonnage tax or light money, the master of the vessel shall be given a certificate on Customs Form 1002 on which the control number of the cash receipt (Customs Form 368 or 368A) upon which payment was recorded shall be written. This certificate shall constitute the official evidence of such payment and shall be presented upon each entry during the tonnage year to establish the date of commencement of the tonnage year and to insure against overpayment. In the absence of the certificate, evidence of payment of tonnage tax shall be obtained from the port director to whom the payment was made.

[T.D. 85-71, 50 FR 15415, Apr. 18, 1985, as amended by T.D. 92-56, 57 FR 24943, June 12, 1992]

§4.24   Application for refund of tonnage tax.

(a) The authority to make refunds in accordance with section 26 of the Act of June 26, 1884 (46 U.S.C. 8) of regular tonnage taxes described in §4.20(a) is delegated to the Directors of the ports where the collections were made. If any doubt exists, the case shall first be referred to Headquarters, U.S. Customs Service for advice.

(b) Each application for refund of regular or special tonnage tax or light money prepared in accordance with this section shall be filed with the Customs officer to whom payment was made. After verification of the pertinent facts asserted in the claim, the application shall be forwarded with any necessary report or recommendation to the appropriate port director. Applications for refund of special tonnage tax and light money (see §4.20(c)) with the reports and recommendations submitted therewith shall be forwarded by the port director to the Commissioner of Customs for decision. Any refund authorized by the Port Director under paragraph (a) of this section or any refund of special tonnae tax or light money authorized by the Commissioner of Customs shall be made by the appropriate Customs officer. The records of tonnage tax shall be clearly noted to show each refund authorized.

(c) The application shall be a direct request for the refund of a definite sum, showing concisely the reasons therefor, the nationality and name of the vessel, and the date, place, and amount of each payment for which refund is requested. The application shall be made within 1 year from date of the payment. A protest against a payment shall not be accepted as an application for its refund.

(d) When the application is based upon a claim that more than five payments of regular tax at either the 2-cent or the 6-cent rate have been made during a tonnage year, the application shall be supported by a statement from the appropriate Customs officer at the port where the application is submitted and from the appropriate Customs officer at each port at which any claimed payment was made verifying the facts and showing in each case whether refunds have been authorized.

(e) The application shall include a certificate by the owner or by the owner's agent that payment of tonnage tax at the applicable rate has been or will be made for each entry of the vessel on a voyage on which that rate is applicable before the end of the current tonnage year, exclusive of any payment which has been refunded or which may be refunded as a result of such application.

(f) The owner or operator of the vessel involved, or other party in interest, may file with the port Director a petition addressed to the Commissioner of Customs for a review of the port director's decision on an application for refund of regular tonnage tax. Such petition shall be filed in duplicate within 30 days from the date of notice of the initial decision, shall completely identify the case, and shall set forth in detail the exceptions to the decision.

[T.D. 71-274, 36 FR 21025, Nov. 3, 1971, as amended by T.D. 95-77, 60 FR 50010, Sept. 27, 1995]

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