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Obtaining a Certificate of Financial Responsibility

Marine vessel owners and operators are subject to compliance with environmental safety and precautions established and enforced by the United States Coast Guard.  In accordance with the Oil Pollution Act of 1990, vessels weighing more than 300 gross tons or vessel of any weight that are transshipping or lightering oil within the Exclusive Economic Zone are requires to be approved for a Certificate of Financial Responsibility from the U.S. Coast Guard before operating in navigable U.S. waters. The information found at that applications can be filed and processed online. Rather than relying on issuance of a paper certificate that used to be carried on board the vessel, the ECOFR site keeps an electronic record that is accessed by port authorities when a vessel approaches U.S. waterways.

Areas of Requirement

There are areas outside of the continental U.S. that also require a COFR for operating vessels. Some of these include:

  • American Samoa
  • Guam
  • Hawaii
  • Baker Island
  • Kingman Reef
  • Puerto Rico
  • S Virgin Islands

How to Obtain a COFR

The requirements for receiving a COFR mandate that a vessel operator or owner carries coverage at least $300 per gross pound or $5,000,000, whichever is the greater amount. As most operators do not have these resources available, there are some insurance companies that offer the financial guaranty needed to meet Coast Guard requirements.