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Changes to WSF Medical Preferential Loading program begins March 20

Changes to Washington State Ferries’ Medical Preferential Loading program begin March 20, 2023. Faxed application will no longer be accepted. The application process will move online. Customers will need to work with their health care providers to submit an application online.

Once submitted, both the customer and provider will receive a confirmation email. A printed copy of this confirmation email must be presented with matching ID when traveling using the program.

There will be a 90-day grace period for applications faxed in prior to March 20. These will be accepted through their expiration date or up through June 18, whichever comes first.

Customers taking advantage of the grace period are encouraged to work with their health care provider to apply online as soon as possible to avoid a pause in being able to use the program.

Customers can also find additional information about the upcoming updates to the program online.

Medical preferential loading provides an exemption from the standard “first-come, first-served” policy when a rider has a medical condition that an extended wait on the dock would cause detrimental risks to their health.

This program is not for use to get to appointments on time when waiting at a terminal would not cause any health risks. You are responsible for planning for any extended waits in such cases..

When sailings are on overload and there are long wait times at the terminal, a customer with medical preferential status:

Sails on the next available scheduled sailing

Is not entitled to first-on, first-off positioning

Need for preferential loading:

Must be certified by a physician on a Medical Preferential Load Program attending physician/hospital/clinic form faxed directly to the terminal

Can only be certified by doctors, nurses, midwives and affiliated positions (RN, PA, etc.)

Cannot be certified by physical therapists, chiropractors, etc.

Applications for medical preferential loading can be requested by calling us at 1-888-808-7977 or 206-464-6400 and can be sent to the physician via email, fax or mail. Applications will be sent only to a physician, hospital or clinic. We never send applications directly to the patient/customer.

The Medical Preferential Load Program Rules and Regulations (PDF 218KB) document has complete details on this program.

Arrival times for approved medical preferential loading

For our Anacortes/San Juan Islands route: 

Customers are required to arrive 30 minutes before sailing time.

Customers who arrive before the vessel has departed but after the gate is closed will not be able to board.

For all other routes:

  • Customers are required to arrive at least 15 minutes before sailing time.
  • We cannot guarantee boarding for late arrivals.
  • We will try to load late arrivals if space and time permits. However, we cannot hold vessels or delay sailings for late arrivals.

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