Skip Top Navigation

FAQs - Security

Can I Carry firearms aboard the ferries

WSF follows Revised Code of Washington (RCW) 9.41.050 for carrying firearms.

  1. (a) Except in the person's place of abode or fixed place of business, a person shall not carry a pistol concealed on his or her person without a license to carry a concealed pistol.
    (b) Every licensee shall have his or her concealed pistol license in his or her immediate possession at all times that he or she is required by this section to have a concealed pistol license and shall display the same upon demand to any police officer or to any other person when and if required by law to do so. Any violation of this subsection
    (1)(b) shall be a class 1 civil infraction under chapter 7.80 RCW and shall be punished accordingly pursuant to chapter 7.80 RCW and the infraction rules for courts of limited jurisdiction.
  2. (a) A person shall not carry or place a loaded pistol in any vehicle unless the person has a license to carry a concealed pistol and: (i) The pistol is on the licensee's person,
    (ii) the licensee is within the vehicle at all times that the pistol is there, or
    (iii) the licensee is away from the vehicle and the pistol is locked within the vehicle and concealed from view from outside the vehicle.
    (b) A violation of this subsection is a misdemeanor.
  3. (a) A person at least eighteen years of age who is in possession of an unloaded pistol shall not leave the unloaded pistol in a vehicle unless the unloaded pistol is locked within the vehicle and concealed from view from outside the vehicle.
    (b) A violation of this subsection is a misdemeanor

What Are Restricted/Prohibited Items

Propane tanks
Regulations require that you shut off and tag all propane tanks prior to boarding, unless they are the primary fuel source for your vehicle. Provided that the total does not exceed 100 pounds. 100 pounds of propane equals approximately 10 US gallons. For example a BBQ grill type propane tank holds 5 gallons or approximately 48 pounds of propane. Therefore, a vehicle is allowed to transport up to two such tanks and be within the 100 pound limit

Gasoline containers having a total aggregate water capacity of 12 gallons may be carried in a vehicle, provided no single container exceeds a maximum water capacity of 6 gallons; the containers must be USCG or UL approved and in good conditon. All vehicles must have gas caps.

Pressurized tanks
(oxygen) must be capped

Camp Stoves or Lantern Fuel

Camp stove  or lantern fuel may be transported, subject to the same conditions and limits as gasoline.” A condition to gasoline transport: “gasoline containers must be transported in a vehicle.”

The following items are prohibited on Washington State Ferries’ vessels and at all terminals:

  • Hazardous materials (Title 49 CFR, Parts 170-180)
  • Explosives or incendiary devices (Title 33 CFR, Part 6)
  • Chemical, Biological or Radiological Agents or Devices (Title 33 CFR, Part 6)
  • Unlawful or Illegally Possessed Firearms (9.41 RCW)
  • Illegal Fireworks (70.77 RCW)
  • Acetylene Tanks


Washington State Ferries allows customers to bring portable gasoline containers aboard its vessels, subject to the specific rules and restrictions described in this procedure.

To ensure compliance with regulatory agencies; and reduce the risk of fire and explosion resulting from the ignition of gasoline stored in containers that are not USCG approved.

Under an exemption issued by the Federal Department of Transportation, WSF can allow customers to carry gasoline in their vehicles only and subject to the following rules and restrictions.

  • Customers may carry no more than 12 gallons of gasoline in portable containers
  • The maximum capacity for each container can be no more than 6 gallons.
  • The containers must be in good condition and must be UL or US Coast Guard approved.
NOTE: Camp stove or lantern fuel also may be transported, subject to the same rules and restrictions.

If vehicles are carrying gasoline cans and propane, they will only be able to transport a maximum of one BBQ grill-type propane tank in combination with up to a maximum of 6 gallons of gasoline.

Vehicles towing trailers are treated as a single vehicle and are subject to the same limitations. For example, a vehicle towing a trailer carrying a boat is limited to 12 gallons of gasoline.

Terminal sellers shall deny passage to customers transporting more than 12 gallons of gasoline, more than the allowed propane limit, or more than the limit for the combined total of both fuels.

Security Measures

The backbone of the WSF security plan is formed by the implementation of security measures or procedures, which are made a part of the WSF daily routine. Examples of measures being implemented by Washington State Ferries include:

All Vehicles Subject to Security Screening
Washington State Patrol Officers, or teams of Officers accompanied by explosive-detection canines, will be present in the vehicle holding lanes. If the dog detects explosive materials, the vehicle will be subject to physical inspection and won’t be allowed to board the ferry until the situation is resolved. The dogs are trained to detect explosive materials only. WSF and WSP are implementing vehicle screening because it is mandated by the new security regulations, because it is a vital part of the WSF security plan approved by the Coast Guard, and because it is an appropriate and responsible security measure in light of WSF’s operations. Anyone denying the screening will be prohibited from boarding the ferry.

Once loading has begun, the Captain’s Permission is Required to Disembark the Vessel
Passengers cannot leave the vessel without permission once they have boarded. WSF understands that there may be legitimate circumstances when a person may need to disembark shortly after boarding. The customer will need to explain the circumstances to the WSF employee at the boarding plank or on the car deck. The employee will then alert the Captain, who will resolve the situation and make a final determination. If a person would like to assist a customer in boarding, but does not plan to travel themselves, they will need to alert a ticket seller or terminal employee as early in the boarding process as possible.

No Unaccompanied Freight Shipments
Washington State Ferries will no longer transport unescorted or unaccompanied freight. This new policy includes blood shipments, medical equipment shipments, architectural drawings, luggage, and prescriptions, all of which have been transported as freight in the past.
Some of the new security procedures will continue to be phased-in over the coming months and years. Security hardware such as surveillance cameras, additional fences, lighting, and access controls will be added as time and resources allow.

What are Maritime Security (MARSEC) Levels

The security procedures you will encounter are predicated on the level of threat towards the maritime industry in general or the ferry system in particular.
At Maritime Security (MARSEC)

Level 1, which represents normal day-to-day security, only select measures contained in the ferry system security plan will be implemented. Signs are posted regarding the current maritime security level is in effect.

At higher MARSEC levels, more security procedures will apply. For example, at times of heightened security, the new regulations require more vehicle screening. Washington State Patrol troopers may need to supplement the canine screening with physical inspections of enclosed compartment areas to meet the vehicle screening requirements. A typical physical screening will include a visual inspection by a trooper of enclosed compartment areas such as a trailer, canopy, passenger or engine areas.

What Can Passengers Do To Help

We all have a role to play in ferry security. Passengers are recommended to:

  • Be Alert; Don’t be Alarmed; and Be Aware of Your Surroundings Report suspicious persons, objects or activities to crewmembers. Suspicions should be based on activity, not what someone looks like. Examples of potentially suspicious behavior include:
    • Unusual photography of ferry operations.
    • People displaying heightened interest in secure areas onboard the ferries.
    • Suspicious questioning of WSF personnel about security procedures. People critically observing ferry operations while taking notes or making computer entries.
    • Suspicious waterside activities in and around docks and ferries.

Arrive Well in Advance of Preferred Sailing
WSF routinely asks travelers to be at the dock 20 minutes prior to sailing. During the busy summer months, passengers should build extra time into their schedules to accommodate the heavy ferry use and potential vehicle screening.

Do Not Transport Explosives Aboard the Ferries
Explosives-detection canines can detect the presence of even small amounts of explosive material. This includes fireworks. Passengers should not transport illegal fireworks aboard Washington State Ferries.

The safety of everyone who rides aboard a Washington State Ferry is the number one priority of the ferry system. Our continuing pledge to each of you is to enhance security while at the same time attempting to minimize the impact on your day-to-day lives. Working together we will keep the ferries safe for ferry riders today and generations to come.

RCW 9.41.170 Alien's license to carry firearms — Exception.

(1) It is a class C felony for any person who is not a citizen of the United States to carry or possess any firearm, without first having obtained an alien firearm license from the director of licensing. In order to be eligible for a license, an alien must provide proof that he or she is lawfully present in the United States, which the director of licensing shall verify through the appropriate authorities. Except as provided in subsection (2)(a) of this section, and subject to the additional requirements of subsection (2)(b) of this section, the director of licensing may issue an alien firearm license only upon receiving from the consul domiciled in this state representing the country of the alien, a certified copy of the alien's criminal history in the alien's country indicating the alien is not ineligible under RCW 9.41.040 to own, possess, or control a firearm, and the consul's attestation that the alien is a responsible person.

(2)(a) Subject to the additional requirements of (b) of this subsection, the director of licensing may issue an alien firearm license without a certified copy of the alien's criminal history or the consul's attestation required by subsection (1) of this section, if the alien has been a resident of this state for at least two years and: (i) The alien is from a country without a consul domiciled within this state, or (ii) the consul has failed to provide, within ninety days after a request by the alien, the criminal history or attestation required by subsection (1) of this section.

(b) Before issuing an alien firearm license under subsection (1) of this section or this subsection (2), the director of licensing shall ask the local law enforcement agency of the jurisdiction in which the alien resides to complete a background and fingerprint check to determine the alien's eligibility under RCW 9.41.040 to own, possess, or control a firearm. The law enforcement agency shall complete a background check within thirty days after the request, unless the alien does not have a valid Washington driver's license or Washington state identification card. In the latter case, the law enforcement agency shall complete the background check within sixty days after the request.

A signed application for an alien firearm license shall constitute a waiver of confidentiality and written request that the department of social and health services, mental health institutions, and other health care facilities release information relevant to the applicant's eligibility for an alien firearm license to an inquiring law enforcement agency.

(3) The alien firearm license shall be valid for five years from the date of issue so long as the alien is lawfully present in the United States. The nonrefundable fee, paid upon application, for the five-year license shall be fifty-five dollars plus additional charges imposed by the Federal Bureau of Investigation that are passed on to the applicant. The fee shall be distributed as follows:

(a) Fifteen dollars shall be paid to the department of licensing;
(b) Twenty-five dollars shall be paid to the Washington state patrol; and
(c) Fifteen dollars shall be paid to the local law enforcement agency conducting the background check.

(4) This section shall not apply to Canadian citizens resident in a province which has an enactment or public policy providing substantially similar privilege to residents of the state of Washington and who are carrying or possessing weapons for the purpose of using them in the hunting of game while such persons are in the act of hunting, or while on a hunting trip, or while such persons are competing in a bona fide trap or skeet shoot or any other organized contest where rifles, pistols, or shotguns are used. Nothing in this section shall be construed to allow aliens to hunt or fish in this state without first having obtained a regular hunting or fishing license.

RCW 9.41.045 Possession by offenders

As a sentence condition and requirement, offenders under the supervision of the department of corrections pursuant to chapter 9.94A RCW shall not own, use, or possess firearms or ammunition. In addition to any penalty imposed pursuant to RCW 9.41.040 when applicable, offenders found to be in actual or constructive possession of firearms or ammunition shall be subject to the appropriate violation process and sanctions as provided for in *RCW 9.94A.634. Firearms or ammunition owned, used, or possessed by offenders may be confiscated by community corrections officers and turned over to the Washington state patrol for disposal as provided in RCW 9.41.098.