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The notice you received from the Coast Guard Hearing Office assessing a preliminary penalty amount means the Coast Guard believes you or your company is the party responsible for an alleged violation of law or regulation.

NOTE: Hearing Officers do not discuss matters over the telephone. The Administrative Support Staff answering the phone can assist you with understanding the below options. Any queries that cannot be answered by the Administrative Support Staff must be put in writing and addressed to the Hearing Officer for your case. Any documents, statements, or other evidence you want the Hearing Officer to consider in your case must be presented in writing and mailed to the Hearing Officer or presented to the Hearing Officer at a hearing.

What Happens Now?

You have 30 days from receipt of the notice to take one of these options:

1.You can pay the proposed penalty now.
To pay the amount shown at the top right hand corner of the letter, fill out the enclosed payment form and make a check or money order payable to the “U.S. Coast Guard”. (If paying by Master Card or Visa, fill out the appropriate areas of the payment form.) Your signature is required. To ensure that the payment is credited to the proper account, include the enclosed payment form with the payment and write the Activity Number from our letter on your check.

Mail it to:
U. S. Coast Guard Civil Penalties

P.O. Box 531112
Atlanta, GA  30353-1112                                                                           


If you wish to Fedex or overnight your payment please mail to:
Bank of America
Lockbox#531112 (CFP)
1075 Loop Road,
Atlanta, GA  30337-6002.

2. Set up payment plan.
If you are unable to pay the penalty in full, you may wish to contact our collection office to discuss a payment plan you may call 510-437-3644 or write to:

Commanding Officer
U.S. Coast Guard
Legal Service Command (LSC-5)
Coast Guard Island, Bldg. 54-A
Alameda, CA 94501

3. Submit evidence in lieu of a hearing.
You may submit written statements, photographs, receipts, diagrams or other evidence relating to the case. Also, you may submit any explanation of the incident, information to show the incident was less severe, or evidence that the violation did not occur. If you have repaired or replaced equipment or obtained a required Certificate of Number or passed a subsequent inspection, provide copies of receipts or documents and/or photographs of equipment. You may wish to comment on the impact of the penalty amount on you or your business. Some documentation of your finances will lend more weight to this kind of comment. The above cannot be accomplished by telephone. Any of the above MUST be in writing.

Sometimes penalty amounts are reduced. For example, if you spent money to fix the problem, that might affect the penalty amount. You should provide convincing evidence showing how you corrected the violation and how much that cost. A letter or statement without supporting evidence is less persuasive.

If you decide to submit a written statement or other evidence, the material must be received at the following address within 30 days of your receipt of our letter. Include the Activity Number on all correspondence and send to our address noted on the front of this pamphlet.

All statements, letters etc must be SIGNED. Those without a signature may not be given consideration.

The Hearing Office fax number is (703) 872-6248. (Please do not send responses over ten pages by fax. If you have a response that is over ten pages that is urgent to get to our office send the package by overnight mail)

You may fax your correspondence if you send it with a cover sheet containing the sender’s name, address and telephone number, the party’s name and address, the Activity Number, and the number of pages transmitted.

We will not accept photographs by fax, and whatever you submit should be sent together so that they arrive at our office together. If you have photos to submit, do not fax other materials. Send it all by mail. Similarly, if you have videotapes or other bulky evidence to submit, it should all be mailed together. The Hearing Officer will consider all evidence, if it can be read or viewed when it arrives, and will advise you of the final decision by letter.

4. Request a hearing.
If you feel a written response will not adequately express your side of the incident, you may request a hearing in writing. The written request must include in detail the issues you want to raise and dispute at the hearing. Failure to submit the issues you want to raise and dispute will result in no hearing being scheduled. Hearings are generally held by video-teleconferencing at a site closest to you.

You will be contacted shortly after receipt of your hearing request that identifies the issues in dispute to advise you of the location, date and time of the VTC hearing. The location of the hearing will be at a Coast Guard District Office.

Coast Guard District Office's are located at...

  • Boston, MA

  • Miami, FL

  • Cleveland, OH

  • New Orleans, LA

  • Alameda, CA

  • Seattle, WA

  • Honolulu, HI.

  • There is no VTC capability at the District Office in Juneau, AK. VTC hearings in Alaska may be scheduled in various locations if / when equipment is available.

  • Live appearance hearings are held at our offices in Arlington, VA.

If VTC locations become available that are closer to you, we will advise you accordingly. Our goal is to schedule your hearing soon after we receive your request for a hearing. See the bottom of this page entitled “Hearings by Video-Teleconference.”

Remember, whether you choose to submit by mail your evidence in lieu of a hearing, or attend a hearing, ALL evidence is considered by the Hearing Officer in the same way. It is given the same consideration and weight regardless of the method used to put the evidence before the Hearing Officer.

5. Ask for more time.
If you need more time to respond to the Hearing Officer’s preliminary letter, you may ask for an extension. Any such request must be in writing, must be received within the original 30-day period, and should explain why an extension is needed. Failure to submit such a request within the 30 day period will result in the proposed penalty becoming final.

6. Do Nothing
If you do nothing in response to this preliminary notice, the proposed penalty will become final. It is not in your best interest to ignore the notice you received!


At your own expense you may be represented at all stages by counsel. If we are notified that you are represented, all further correspondence concerning the case will be directed to your representative.


The Coast Guard Hearing Office now provides for hearings before a Coast Guard Hearing Officer using new technology: video-teleconferencing. A video-teleconference hearing is a convenient, efficient, and economical way for you to present your side of the facts and circumstances surrounding the violation(s) charged and any evidence in your defense or extenuation (reasons to excuse the violation) or mitigation (reasons to lessen the penalty).

A video-teleconference hearing allows you, your representative if you have one, and any witnesses as well as the Hearing Officer to see and hear each other through special television screens. It is as if everyone is in a “virtual” room together.

Except for the equipment, a video-teleconference hearing is no different than a hearing in which you appear in person. The only persons that can see and hear each other are the persons that should be at the hearing—you, your representative, witnesses and the Hearing Officer. The transmission is private. Hearing Officers make final penalty determinations on the evidence in the case file and evidence presented at a hearing if you request a hearing. It makes no difference whether the hearing is by video-teleconference or live appearance; any evidence presented by you at either type of hearing is given the same consideration and weight in your case by the Hearing Officer. Evidence presented at a hearing is given the same consideration and weight as evidence presented in writing to the Coast Guard Hearing Office.

The advantages of a video-teleconference hearing for you as the party charged are:

  1. The hearing can be scheduled promptly upon receipt of your hearing request identifying the issues in dispute.

  2. A video-teleconference hearing is easier to schedule at your convenience. And it is easier to reschedule for good cause. If you fail to appear or cancel without good cause, the final penalty determination will be made without a hearing. The final determination is then made on the basis of the evidence in the case file at that time.

  3. We may be able to locate a site for the video-teleconference hearing closer to you than the distance to a Coast Guard District Office. This means less travel for you and any potential witnesses, and therefore, less expense and time away from work or other activities. Should we be able to locate a site closer to you, we will notify you.

If you request a hearing, you will be contacted by our Hearing Coordinator. The Hearing Coordinator will arrange a date and time for you to appear for the video-teleconference. Once confirmations are made to ensure the equipment is available and working on the selected date and time, the Hearing Coordinator will send you a letter advising you of any details for the hearing. The letter will set forth the address where the hearing will be held, and the date and time. The letter will advise that failure to appear may result in waiver of the hearing.

Prior to a hearing by video-teleconference you will be asked to mail or fax any materials to the Hearing Officer that you will present at the hearing. This is necessary so that if you are referring to a document at your location during the hearing, the Hearing Officer at his or her location may have the document available for reference as well.

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Last Modified 5/8/2012