COFRs and the US Government Partial Shutdown

January 2019

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Club correspondents Lamorte Burns have issued this advice:

We wanted to bring an issue to the attention of our clients and their Members.

With regard to the US Government’s partial shutdown, which has continued for several weeks, we understand that the Vessel Certification Bureau of the US Coast Guard is not processing Certificates of Financial Responsibility (COFRs) during the shutdown.  At this time we do not know when the partial shutdown will end and the Coast Guard will again process pending COFRs.  

The US Coast Guard’s National Pollution Funds Center (NPFC), which is in charge of issuing COFRs, published the following statement regarding the processing of COFRs during the partial shutdown:

Due to the partial government shutdown, the Vessel Certification Division at NPFC is only minimally staffed and Certificate of Financial Responsibility (COFR) applications are not being processed. However, the ECOFR site will remain operational and all applicants and guarantors should continue to submit applications, renewals and cancellations as normal. When a COFR holder advises the U.S. Coast Guard that they are enroute to a U.S. port, the Captain of the Port will check with NPFC to see if a valid COFR exists on that vessel. Compliance determinations will be made directly to the Captain of the Port office and the vessel owner/operator will be informed accordingly. Delays in granting approval to enter U.S. waters may occur.

If Members do not have a valid COFR in place and are sailing for US waters during the partial government shutdown, we recommend that the Club’s Members submit an application for a new COFR to the NPFC as soon as possible.  It is most likely that the NPFC will take no action on the application during the partial government shutdown, but there is a small chance they may.  Also, if the government is re-opened soon and the NPFC is fully staffed again, pending COFR applications will be processed and perhaps approved prior to the Member’s vessel arriving in US waters.   We also recommend that the vessel and/or Members contact the Captain of the Port/US Coast Guard at the port of entry and notify them of the situation. They will provide further instructions.

The COFR webpage for the NPFC can be found here.

Please contact the undersigned or any of our offices around the United States if you have any questions.  Full contact details for all our offices can be found at www.lamorte.com.