Checking Boat Registration Requirements for Your Particular Vessel

If you’ve just bought a boat for the first time, boat registration requirements and regulations can seem confusing and onerous at best. Of course, they can seem that way if you’ve owned boats for decades. When we built our site, we designed it to make it easy to fill out all of the forms, yes. But, we also wanted to make a site that demystified that forms, making them easy to understand, with a helpful professional right at your fingertips. Below, we’ve compiled some info to let you know what kind of registration (if any) is right for your vessel. 

boat registration

Vessels Exempt from Boat Registration

Vessel registration can be important for many vessels, but there are some that don’t have to worry about it. For example,  vessels that don’t operate on the navigable waters of the US, or in the fisheries in the Exclusive Economic Zone don’t have to be documented. By that same token, vessels that are already Coastwise-qualified, non-self-propelled vessels that are used in coastwise trade in a harbor, in the rivers or lakes, waters, or canals of any state. To be fair, that last has an exception: the Great Lakes. You’ll note it said nothing about “oceans.” 

Registering for Coastwise Trade and Fishery 

When we talk about “vessel registration,” it’s important to note that there are different kinds of registration. Not all vessel registrations are the same. For example, vessels that are used for fishery can receive a specific registration for that. By that same token, vessels that are going to be used in coastwise trade can also apply for a particular kind of registration. If you’re unsure about which form of documentation is right for your vessel or at what time, we’ll be happy to assist you. 

Registering for Recreation 

“But wait,” you might be saying, “I only use my vessel for recreation. Any chance I can get a registration for that?” Yes, you can. Specifically, you can register it for recreational purposes. There is one big factor to keep in mind here, however: if you register a vessel for recreation, you have to use it for recreation. That means that you can’t use it for recreation, and then all of a sudden, decide that one day you want to start using it for coastwise trade on the oceans or something. 

All the Other Documentation Forms

Initial documentation is just one of the forms that you can find at our site. You can also find ways to renew your documentation as well as so many other kinds of forms. If you’re buying a vessel, selling one, changing addresses, or anything else, you can find the corresponding form of documentation at our site. Then, you can follow helpful pointers (as well as clearly marked boxes) about how to fill out these forms. If you have an internet connection, you can do it from anywhere. If you have any further questions, we’re always glad to answer your calls. You can reach us at (800) 535-8570.