What is the Pennsylvania River Pilot License Bond?

Pennsylvania River Pilot License BondRiver pilots are responsible for being in charge of the movement of a vessel, while that vessel is within the inland waterways of the United States of America. These waterways come in the form of rivers, creeks, and canals. A river pilot is licensed by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and is a part of the “Bridge Team” that secures safe navigation of a vessel while it moves throughout the Delaware River and Bay. A river pilot also handles all communications for the vessel and maintains the vessel running in safe navigation waters.

As part of the licensing requirement, a river pilot is required to post a surety bond.  The River Pilot License Bond guarantees the protection of the environment and economy of the entire Delaware Valley Community. The bond covers the river pilot’s compliance with all laws and rules in commanding navigation vessels.

Pilot licenses are based on the maximum draft of the vessel that may be piloted. As river pilots gain experience, they may take charge of larger vessels.

The geographic jurisdiction of the Pennsylvania Navigation Commission for the Delaware River and Its Navigable Tributaries is set in its regulations at 4 Pa. Code § 401.1:

Navigable tributaries include:

  • Schuylkill River below Fairmount Dam
  • Chester Creek below Ninth Street
  • Crum Creek below Route 291 (Industrial Highway) Bridge
  • Darby Creek below 84th Street
  • Neshaminy Creek below Route 13 Bridge
  • Pennypack Creek below Frankford Avenue Bridge
  • Ridley Creek below Baltimore and Ohio Railroad Bridge in Chester.

The “river” means the “tidal portions of the Delaware River, from the Delaware border in the South to the Railroad Bridge at Morrisville in the North, and its navigable tributaries” within the state.


What is the bond amount?

The bond amount is $500.

The cost of the bond is a percentage of the bond amount. The cost typically ranges from 1% to 5% of the bond amount, which will serve as your bond premium.

How can I obtain a River Pilot License Bond?

STEP 1: Apply for the bond

You need to submit a bond application to us. If you’re ready to apply now, you may do so by getting an accurate quote HERE!

STEP 2: Underwriting

We will ask you for a couple of relevant information needed for the bond. Typically, the surety underwriter will only look at your credit score to properly evaluate your bonding capacity. For this bond, a review of your credit score will be required.

However, with more significant bond amounts, underwriters will look into your financial history and business performance.

Do not let the underwriting process intimidate you! We make it a smooth and easy process for you!

STEP 3: Bond execution

Once the underwriter completes the underwriting process, we will immediately issue the bond and send it to you!


What are the bond conditions?

  • The Surety must be authorized to issue surety bonds in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
  • The Principal (river pilot) has applied to the Pennsylvania Navigation Commission for the Delaware River and Its Navigable Tributaries for a license or permit to conduct business.
  • If the Principal complies with all applicable rules, ordinances, regulations, and any amendments, the obligation will be null and void. Otherwise, it will remain in full force and effect.
  • The bond is continuous until canceled by the Surety.
  • The Surety may terminate the bond upon giving a 30-day written notice to the Commission indicating the termination.

Note:  Pilot licenses expire on May 1st of each year, and the Pennsylvania Navigation Commission for the Delaware River and Its Navigable Tributaries mails renewal notices two months before the license expiration date. This means you may need to renew your bond as well.

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