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FAQs - School Groups

Schools Schools Traveling on Ferries

Washington State Ferries encourages schools to plan ahead when traveling on a Washington State Ferry. WSF cannot guarantee space for school requests received less than 72 hours in advance. Early notification of travel ensures enough space is reserved for your buses, vans, or personal vehicles on board our vessels. This information is required for student groups traveling in vehicles as well as those groups walking on. This involves a two-step process addressing both safety and the school group discount.  For groups travelling on reservation routes(Port Townsend/Coupeville, Anacortes/San Juans/Sidney B.C.), follow the link in the third step to make vehicle reservations for your group.   
1. Travel Notification/Student Safety

In order to reserve space for buses, vans or personal vehicles traveling with your group and to ensure adequate life preservers, please fill out this required form at least 72 hours in advance of travel. This information is needed for student groups traveling in vehicles as well as those groups walking on.

The safety and well-being of your students is important to us. In order to ensure we have enough life jackets we are asking that you alert us to the number of children weighing less than 90 pounds. Children over 90 pounds can use adult life jackets.

2. School Discounts

Washington Administrative Code (WAC 468-300-010) SCHOOL GROUPS - Passengers traveling in authorized school groups for institution-sponsored activities will be charged a flat rate of $1 per walk on group or per vehicle of students and/or advisors and staff. All school groups require a letter of authorization. Vehicles and drivers will be charged the fare applicable to vehicle size. The special school rate is $2 on routes where one-point toll systems are in effect.

Example of Authorization Letter (pdf 10 kb)

Each vehicle traveling with the group will need an original, signed letter (photocopies are not accepted).  Each letter will need to state the number of passengers traveling in that vehicle only. 

In order to offer the school group discount, Washington State Ferries requires an original letter for each trip on your school letterhead, stating that this is a school-sponsored function or field trip, signed by the school administrator or transportation coordinator. The letter, which is presented to the ticket seller at the time of travel, qualifies the school to pay the appropriate vehicle and driver fare plus $2 on most routes, which pays for all the students, staff and advisors as long as they are boarding together as a group. Walk-on groups pay only $2 on most routes. Letters provided by the district after the time of travel are not accepted for refunds.

Non-profit organizations do not qualify for the school discount. Home school groups associated with local school districts should request a letter of authorization from their school district.

If you have a question about your qualifications, please speak to an information agent at 888-808-7977 or email

3. Vehicle Reservation System

The vehicle reservation system is in place on the Port Townsend/Coupeville, and Anacortes/San Juan Island/Sidney B.C. routes.  For school groups travelling on these routes, we recommend making vehicle reservations at the Save a Spot website after completing the 2 steps outlined above.  If your school group is travelling on any other non-reservation route, the completed student safety form above will be sent to the terminals, and the staff will be aware of your travel plans.