by MET Staff
| Friday, June 20, 2014 |
United States Coast Guard (USCG) vessel documentation is a
national form of registration for vessels five net tons or more. A documented
vessel is one registered by the federal government through the Coast Guard,
rather than titled and numbered through the state.
Documented vessels will still need to be on compliance with
state rules, so vessel owners will need to check with their state agency for
requirements for obtaining vessel documentation are as follows:
vessel must be five net tons or more.
must be a citizen of the United States.
must meet the criteria specific to the endorsement you are seeking,e.g., coastwise, fishery.
Also, if you are applying for a fishery or
coastwise endorsement, you will need to be able to establish that your vessel
was built in the U.S. using U.S. parts.
To obtain a vessel certificate, you will need to submit an Application for Initial, Exchange or
Replacement of Certificate of Documentation; Redocumentation
to the National Vessel Documentation Center, along with your proof of
citizenship, proof of ownership, and applicable fees.
Upon receiving your USCG vessel documentation, your vessel
will be assigned a registration number. You’ll need to permanently affix your
number on a clearly visible interior structural part of the hull.
vessel documentation required?
Many vessel owners, particularly recreational boaters, want
to know whether or not vessel documentation is mandatory. The answer is: maybe.
If the vessel is over five net tons (about 26 feet in length) and is engaged in
certain commercial activities, yes, documentation is required.
If the vessel is only for certain recreational uses; is not
used on US navigable waters or in the Exclusive Economic Zone; or is qualified
for coastwise use within a harbor, on US rivers or lakes, or on the internal
waters or canals, it does not require documentation.
If you are uncertain of whether or not your vessel requires
documentation, you can contact the USCG to make an inquiry.
of USCG Vessel Documentation
D. N. Jones Documentation Service explains that there are five primary benefits of
assurance – the USCG has more stringent title requirements than the
state requires, proving you with better assurance of the title.
protection – documented vessels are property of the United States and
have the protection of a U.S. flag vessel. Therefore, they are given clearance
at foreign ports and offered certain protections when in international or
financing – marine financiers require vessel documentation to secure
interest by a Preferred Ship’s Mortgage recorded by the U.S. Coast Guard.
– boat owners may enjoy the prestige that accompanies vessel
of sale – because ownership is easily verifiable, documented vessels
have a lot less red tape to go through when they are sold from one party to
All Your Documents in Order
If and when you receive your USCG vessel certificate, keep
all the pertinent paperwork in a safe location on your vessel. In addition to
documentation, keep accurate logbooks to meet USCG standards. Feel free to
peruse our selection of Premium Logbooks
and download a free copy of our Logbook Quick Reference Guide.