News 24 Jun, 2024

Washington State, USA- Financial Responsibility Requirements

Erin Walton
Erin Walton
Assistant Corporate Director

Many US states choose to require additional evidence of financial responsibility on top of the requirements already mandated by the US Federal government. For example, Alaska and California both require additional Certificates of Financial Responsibility, or COFRs.

In 2022, the Washington legislature passed an act updating financial responsibility requirements for vessels in Washington waters, which will require vessel owners who transport hazardous substances (including oil) in bulk to provide evidence of financial responsibility directly to the state of Washington.

In June 2024, the Department of Ecology completed the necessary rulemaking process. Vessels must comply with these requirements before the implementation date (being 21 months from the effective date-15 July 2024).

Financial Responsibility must be demonstrated as defined below (WAC 173-187-100)

Vessel Type

Financial Responsibility Amounts (USD)

Barges that transport hazardous substances in bulk as cargo

$5,000,000 or
$300 per gross ton, whichever is greater

Tank vessels, including tank barges


Tank vessels, including tank barges, 300 gross tons or less

$5,000,000 or
$3,000 per barrel of the barge’s total capacity, whichever is greater

Cargo vessel (a self-propelled ship in commerce, other than a tank vessel, fishing vessel, or a passenger vessel, of 300 or more gross tons)


Passenger vessel (a ship of 300 or more gross tons with a fuel capacity of at least 6,000 gallons carrying passengers for compensation)


Passenger vessels that transport passengers and vehicles between Washington and a foreign country

$500,000 or
$600 per gross ton, whichever is greater

Fishing vessel that carries predominantly nonpersistent oil

$1,334,000 or
$133.40 per each barrel of total oil storage capacity, whichever is greater

Fishing vessel that carriers predominantly persistent oil

$6,670,000 or
$400.20 per each barrel of total oil storage capacity, whichever is greater

Membership within a P&I Club can be used to demonstrate the required level of financial responsibility. Membership will be verified by the Department of Ecology. The Rule Implementation Plan issued by Department of Ecology states:

Vessels that are members of P&I clubs that enter Washington state waters are not required to take action associated with this rule, unless Ecology requests verification of P&I club membership.

Those who are not Members of a P&I Club must obtain a Washington State COFR from the Department of Ecology before the phase in deadline of 21 months from the 15 July 2024 effective date.

Those not in compliance by this date may be subject to enforcement action and penalties.