Whatever your reason for owning a boat, you have responsibilities before you embark on a waterfront journey. For one, you must ensure that your boat is fully documented or registered. If it is over 5 net tons, then you might want to have it documented. Check the USCG documentation database to know your boat’s documentation status.
Using the USCG Documentation Database
If you are not sure about your boat’s documentation status, you may utilize the database of the USCG. Now, you may wonder what are the pieces of information you need to start your search. Typically, you will have to input the Hull identification number or official number. The result will reveal the boat information, the dimensions, service information, and most of all the expiration of the current Certificate of Documentation.
Expired Certificate of Documentation
What if you found out that the documentation status of your boat is expired? Some boat owners do not know that this certification has an expiration date. They also do not know that they have to renew the certificate every year.
Sailing with an expired COD can have significant legal and operational implications. The COD issued by the USCG serves as evidence of a boat’s nationality and registration with the federal government.
It is a violation of federal regulations if you sail without first renewing your COD. As mentioned, this documentation is proof that your vessel is in compliance with USCG documentation requirements. It must be kept current. Operating a documented vessel with an expired COD can result in legal penalties, fines, and potential legal actions.
Lack of Legal Protection
Using your boat with an expired COD may deprive you of certain legal protections and rights provided to documented vessels. For instance, you may not be entitled to the same privileges and legal benefits as a boat with active documentation. It could affect your ability to engage in maritime activities and transactions.
Many insurance policies for vessels require that the vessel be properly documented with the USCG. The documentation must also be kept current. Failure to renew the COD can lead to the nullification of insurance coverage. It leaves you financially vulnerable in the event of incidents on the water.
Limited Access to Certain Waters
Some waters, particularly those with strict security measures or where federal regulations apply, may restrict access to vessels with expired documentation. This can limit your ability to navigate certain waterways, enter specific ports, or engage in maritime activities that require federal compliance.
If you use your boat for commercial purposes, such as fishing, passenger transport, or cargo shipping, operating with expired documentation may result in legal consequences and restrictions on your ability to conduct commercial operations.
Operating a boat with expired documentation can pose safety concerns, as it may indicate a lack of attention to legal and safety requirements. This can result in increasing scrutiny from maritime authorities and reduced confidence from passengers and clients.
It is crucial to keep your boat’s documentation status active. Check the USCG documentation database to find out. If you need to renew it, use the Renewal form found on the left side of this page.