U.S. seamen who, because of their occupation, must depart from or enter the United States are required to have in their possession a specially validated U.S. Merchant Mariner's Document issued by the U.S. Coast Guard.
The Merchant Mariner's Document has been a form of identification issued to U.S. merchant seamen since colonial days. The Department of Commerce issued the document until January 1, 1937, when the U.S. Merchant Marine began issuing it. The document is accepted by immigration authorities upon presentation in lieu of a passport as long as a ship is in a foreign port. A photograph, date of birth, citizenship information, and sailing endorsement are included. (Exhibit 63) On February 23, 1942, as a wartime measure, a special type of passport was issued to seamen. (Exhibit 64) The document known as the "seaman's passport" was discontinued on August 28, 1945.
No fee is collected for a passport issued to an American seaman who requires a passport in connection with his duties aboard an American flag vessel.18 In this case, the seaman submits with his application a letter from his employer certifying that he is proceeding abroad to join a ship of U.S. registry, or that unusual circumstances exist in which a passport is necessary for him to pursue his occupation aboard ships of U.S. registry.
A limited no-fee regular passport with endorsement is issued and is valid only to a date sufficient to cover the purpose of travel.
This endorsement reads:
This passport expires on (date)
It is issued to enable the bearer to join the
crew of an American vessel.
In addition, a "no-fee" stamp is placed at the bottom of page 1 of the passport. Fee passports without any special limitation are issued to seamen for personal travel.