A Guide to Private Yacht Documentation

For many middle-class Americans, owning a boat is the stuff of fantasy. Those lucky enough to possess a yacht on their own should be aware of the various legal requirements of the privilege such as yacht documentation. The United States Coast Guard has stringent regulations regarding private boat documentation. It is crucial to familiarize oneself with these restrictions before buying a boat to prevent any possible penalties or conflicts with law enforcement. Enjoy your time on the water with the peace of mind from knowing the USCG paperwork procedure has been thoroughly covered in this article. 

We will go through the criteria for a “private” vessel, the necessary paperwork, and the process for getting one. Read on to learn all you need to know about boat ownership, whether you’re just beginning your investigation or are ready to dive. As a vessel owner licensed by the U.S. Coast Guard, you are aware of the stringent documentation standards for private yachts. Some of the most crucial ones to remember are as follows:

Vessel Must Be Owned and Operated By U.S. Citizens Or Permanent Residents

Many people’s idea of the American Dream involves purchasing a boat and registering it under U.S. law. The United States Coast Guard considers a yacht “any vessel less than 65 feet in length that is used or intended to be utilized for pleasure or sport.” That rules out using the boat for anything other than pleasure, including fishing, transport, and study. If the boat is not in open water, it must be docked or kept within three nautical miles of the nearest landfall while still inside U.S. territorial seas. 

The word “vessel” describes anything that can be sailed on the water. A loan for a boat will need you to give it a name; if you don’t have one in mind (maybe because you’re acquiring a new boat), “vessel” will suffice. Yacht documentation through the U.S. Coast Guard entails completing paperwork and registering the boat. Legally, the documents attest to ownership in the eyes of the United States government. Your vessel’s official name and number will be listed on them, and both may be altered at any time.

Vessel Must Not Engage In Trade or Commerce

You may have noticed that boats have several restrictions if you’ve spent time on them. You can’t just get on the boat, take it wherever, or do anything you want once you get there; there are regulations. This restriction prohibiting commercial activity by private watercraft is among the most essential. That means you can’t charter out your boat for profit, and you must be selective about who assists you with things like docking and refueling. 

The good news is that the United States Coast Guard has compiled a detailed list of activities that constitute “trade or commerce,” such as the sale of commodities, the transportation of passengers for compensation, and the operation of a public carrier (like a taxi service). If you suspect that these activities are being performed on your boat or if someone is being paid to do them, you should contact the Coast Guard in your area.

If the Vessel Is Over 79 Feet Long, It Must Have a Qualified Captain On Board At All Times

You’ve undoubtedly figured out by now that purchasing a boat requires several different legal paperwork. When making a large purchase, it might not be easy to keep track of everything. You should be acquainted with these papers even if you are only browsing boats for sale in the region. Most people will consider the title of a paper first. We often think of a bill of sale or certificate of ownership as the title. It details the boat’s name, make and model, length, year constructed, valuation, VIN, and other pertinent information. 

The United States Coast Guard is responsible for issuing the certificate (USCG). To fly the American flag, a yacht must first be registered with the United States Coast Guard. A bill of sale is another document you might expect to see when buying a boat. Not only does it include the same information as the title, but it also specifies the buyer’s and seller’s names, addresses, and phone numbers. To fly the American flag, a yacht must have a licensed skipper on board at all times if it is longer than 79 feet.

Yacht Documentation

Owner Must Carry Liability Insurance or a Yacht Documentation In Case of an Accident

Documentation is the best approach to keep you and your boat safe on the ocean. The first item needed is insurance, which is mandated by federal law for private boats and highly recommended for chartered ones. If you cause an accident on your sailing boat, liability insurance will cover property damage and injuries to passengers and crew. Powerboat owners should acquire liability insurance in case of accident or property damage. A Coast Guard registration number is the next requirement for yachts.

Along with life preserver and fire extinguisher numbers, the U.S. Coast Guard sells this number. Coast Guard numbers are free and must be renewed every two years, although it’s preferable to do it sooner rather than later so you don’t forget. You’ll need this information to confirm that all of your safety equipment has been registered with the Coast Guard when buying liability insurance.

The Maritime Documentation Center is the first choice for yacht documentation services. Our professionals take pride in offering a wide range of solutions for your boat registration needs. Whether you are new to boating or a seasoned captain, we help you get licensed and official with our hassle-free and cost-effective boat registration process. To learn more about our services, call +1 800-535-8570 today.