Do You Need To Obtain Maritime Documents For Your Vessel?

You are the proud owner of a brand new vessel, and have been dreaming of this day for a long time. However, just as you start to live the life that you have always wanted, you discover that things are not as simple as they may seem. One area where you may struggle is in obtaining the right types of Maritime documents for your new vessel, and making sure that you are able to get exactly what you need from registering the boat with the US Coast Guard.


Understanding Different Registration Varieties

If you have never had a boat before, then you may not realize that there are two different forms of registration for the vessel. Firstly, you may register the boat with your State, which will give you a Certificate number, and at a federal level with the USCG Vessel documentation process. You may register your boat with both of these departments, or you may simply register it with one of these bodies. You will, of course, have to understand the laws surrounding your individual state before you complete the forms, but these are the two main areas. State registration is fine if you are operating with the waters of the US, but if you plan on sailing further, perhaps over the Great Lakes to Canada, or down to the Caribbean, then you will need to be registered with the Coast Guard. The latter documentation system will also protect you better when you are sailing, and is worth the investment.


Who Can Receive Maritime Documents

Not all vessels are suitable for USCG Documentation. You must be a citizen of the US, and the boat must be at least 5 net tons. In addition, if you use the vessel for anything other than recreational purposes, including fishing, passenger trips or trading, then the vessel must have federal documentation. This type of documentation is kept on a registry with the Coast Guard, and can be used by future buyers of the vessel to check its history and previous use. When the boat is documented, you will receive a number which must be displayed on the vessel. This will be used by future buyers to conduct document searches and by marine crews conducting inspections of the boat.

Why Document The Boat?

There are several reasons why you might benefit from documenting your boat. Firstly, the boat will not be restricted to one state, and you will be able to move the boat more easily from one dock to another without fees and more forms. If you intend to use the vessel for commercial purposes, even once or twice, then federal registration is a must. You will be fined and may even suffer loss of the vessel if you are caught using a recreationally registered vessel for commercial purposes. A certificate of documentation is the best way to resolve this. Lastly, the Coast Guard has made its intentions to protect US shipping clear, and this will benefit you if you are a trader or conduct commercial operations in Coast-Guard managed waters.


Getting the Documentation You Need

In order to receive a Certificate of Documentation, you will need to first submit an application form from the NVDC. The forms are very demanding, and it is important that you have all of the evidence required gathered together before you start. Many vessel owners have problems with completing the paperwork in time and correctly, and suffer rejection because of this. There is no repayment of fees, so each time you are rejected you will have to pay more in order to resubmit. This can make the application process expensive.


Submitting Documentation

The NVDC has only recently started allowing some vessel owners to submit paperwork online, but if you are not within that group you will have to send all of your documentation and evidence to the Coast Guard through snail-mail. This makes the process much longer, particularly if the forms are returned as incorrect, and you may be waiting months to register the vessel before you can use it. The cost and the delay can make some boat owners decide that they would prefer state registration.


Get Help with Completing Forms

If you have been struggling with Maritime Documents form completion, and need professional help, then the Maritime Documentation Center can help you. We have experienced teams who can assist you with completing the forms, including filling out the paperwork and submitting evidence. Our teams will read the forms before they are submitted, so that you can be confident that everything is correct, first time around. To ensure that you get the help you need with your maritime forms, contact us today using our email,, or speak to our teams directly to ask questions or to arrange our help by calling us at (800) 535-8570 now.