Seaman Book as Travel Documents

One commenter stated that because seamen’s books issued by foreign governments under the Seafarers’ Identity Document Convention, 1958 (ILO108) are travel documents that are accepted in place of passports, they should be
included as an acceptable identification document for a crewmember. The commenter further stated that even though the United States has not ratified ILO108, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) accepts ILO108 seamen’s
books in place of passports. The commenter concludes, that while the Sec. 160.310 definition of passport would include ILO108 seamen’s books, it would be helpful to specifically include ILO108 seamen’s books in the list of
acceptable identification.

The Coast Guard disagrees with the recommendation that what the commenter refers to as ILO108 seamen’s books should be added to the list of acceptable identification. The Coast Guard also disagrees that such seamen’s books meet
the Sec. 160.310 definition of passport. CBP may accept a seaman’s book, in conjunction with a visa, as a passport alternative for purposes of determining admissibility, but CBP does not accept the book as a SID.

Our crewmember identification document rule lists a specific SID as an acceptable identification: one “issued by or under the authority of the government of a country that has ratified the International Labour Organization Seafarers’ Identity

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Documents Convention (Revised), 2003 (ILO 185), meeting all the requirements of ILO 185.” See 33 CFR 160.310. ILO185 went into force on February 9, 2005, and, as its title indicates, revised ILO108, Seafarers’ Identity Documents Convention, 1958. The term “seamen’s books” does not appear in ILO108. And, like ILO185, the 1958 convention refers to the issuance of a seafarer’s identity document, not a seaman’s book.

Under the 1958 Convention, a SID had to conform to the provisions of Article 4 of ILO108, which include “particulars concerning the bearer.” The list of ILO108 particulars, however, is not as extensive as those in ILO185. As noted above, to be considered an acceptable identification, a SID must meet all the requirements of ILO 185. And while ILO185 permits either “a previous SID, or a seafarers’ discharge book” to be used as proof an applicant for a SID is a seafarer, neither convention uses the term “seamen’s book” or “seafarers’ discharge book” to label the document
issued by or under the authority of the government of a country that has ratified an ILO SID convention as the document that must be recognized by other nations that have ratified the convention.

We have not found a valid formal definition of the term “seamen’s book.” In addition, the term “seaman’s book” is not used in either ILO108 or ILO185, and the somewhat similar term “seafarers’ discharge book” is used in ILO185, but for the limited purpose of providing proof that an applicant for an ILO185 SID is a seafarer. Accordingly, we do not interpret either term as meeting the 33 CFR 160.310 definition of passport. We have made no changes from the proposed rule based on this comment.

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