A Comprehensive Guide About the Initial Vessel Documentation

Boat Licenses, state registration numbers, official numbers, documented vessels, unregistered boats, USCG, NVDC… if you don’t know what these words mean we have got you covered. We will tell you everything about them so you are able to process your initial vessel documentation by yourself and you know what you are doing. But that’s not all: Our platform also allows you to process any boating documentation completely online, and our representatives assist you with it.

Explaining Each of the Terms

We will begin this article with some definitions. The USCG is the initial for the United States Coast Guard. It is the maritime security, search and rescue, and law enforcement service branch of the United States Armed Forces and one of the country’s eight uniformed services. A branch of this agency is the NVDC, or National Vessel Documentation Center, which receives and assigns the pertinent documents and numbers. They protect American waters by keeping a registry of the vessels.

That is because the majority of the boats in the US have to be licensed. The requirements vary from state to state, but once you are registered, the respective government authorities assign your vessel a state registration number. There is, however, an alternative to state registration.

In fact, when you say documented vessels you are normally referring to boats registered with the USCG, at a federal level. Vessels over 5 net tons and used for commercial purposes are required to get this type of documentation, while recreational vessels exceeding the same net tonnage have the option of doing so. When registering your vessel with them you are assigned an official number and given a certificate of documentation. Normally, whenever someone refers to a documented vessel he or she is talking about this type of registration.

Why would someone voluntarily decide to register with the USCG if he doesn’t have to? Sometimes it is a requirement from the bank to give you a loan (as they will now qualify for preferred ship mortgages) and sometimes it is for your convenience, as this will make it easier for you to enter and leave foreign ports, or allow you to display your name and hailing port in your vessel rather than your state registration number. The first time you get this type of registration, it is formally known as initial vessel documentation.

Information you Need to Complete the Form

As we said, after you complete your initial vessel documentation you will be assigned a certificate of documentation that will be valid for 1 year in the case of commercial vessels and for 5 years when it comes to recreational boats. After that, it is your responsibility to renew it on time, and to inform the USCG of any changes in your situation (a new owner of the watercraft or a change of address, to name a few) while the certificate is valid.

To be able to complete this document you will need to assign a name to it and a hailing port (the dock in which the craft is docked for most of the year), along with its hull identification number. Then you will be asked for some details about yourself and any other owners (if applicable) and to fill in the boxes with the characteristics of your ship (if it is recreational or commercial, etc). Once you have paid the corresponding fee, we will then process it on your behalf after making sure there aren’t any mistakes.

Initial Vessel Documentation

Initial Vessel Documentation and More

The initial vessel documentation and most of the boating paperwork can be easily processed at our site, the Maritime Documentation Center. Our private service is SSL-encrypted so you can rest assured that your data will be protected. We also allow you to complete it fully online. For any other questions you have, do not hesitate to contact us.