COFR: What is It and How Do I Get It?

What is a COFR? COFR stands for a certificate of financial responsibility and is required for vessels sailing in U.S. waters. COFRs came as a result of the Oil Pollution Act of 1990 when the Exxon Valdez spilled over 11 million gallons of Alaskan crude oil in the waters of the Prince William Sound.

Who Needs a COFR?

As a protection, all vessels over 300 gross tons who navigate the U.S. waters must secure a certificate of financial responsibility. Additionally, any vessel that is lightering (ship to ship transfer) or transshipping (off-loading) oil in the U.S.’s exclusive economic zone must have a COFR regardless of the tonnage. There are only two exceptions to the COFR requirement:

1) public vessels

2) non-self-propelled barges (must not carry hazardous or oil as fuel or cargo)

All vessel applicants for a COFR must show proof that they have the financial backing to cover any type of liability that comes from water pollution caused by their vessel(s). This financial backing could be from a third party insurer or the company itself.

Electronic COFRs

The US Coast Guard no longer issues paper COFRs. Thanks to the ecofr program, COFR validity is verified electronically and updated daily. The E-COFR program makes application and payment for a new COFR, a COFR renewal, or supplemental COFR easy, secure and accessible online from any computer or mobile device.