Documenting a Vessel: How to

In all of our blogs, we try to give our readers something they might not have had before. We try to point out something different and new about our site or explain a form that they might not have encountered before. Many of these forms are filled with what’s colloquially referred to as “legalese.” That means that they’re written by lawyers and essentially for lawyers, using many words that regular people don’t use in their everyday life. Sometimes, we like to use to use a blog just to highlight what’s in a form and what each step of the form means. Today, we’re going to show you go about documenting a vessel.

Documenting a Vessel

Documenting a Vessel with Us

The easiest way to start this is to go our site. Then, click on “Initial.” This will take you to the page for the “initial” Certificate of Documentation. You don’t have to click on this on the left, mind you. You can also go to the center of the page and find it there. We’re starting with this form because, well, that’s usually how people get started with vessel documentation. Typically, this is the first form that they’ll fill out which will go to the Coast Guard. It’s important to remember that this is “Coast Guard” documentation. That’s different than simply getting titles and numbers from the given state that your vessel is in.

Why Documentation

People get this kind of documentation for multiple reasons. For example, commercial vessels have to be documented, if they’re over five net tons. Pleasure (recreational) vessels that are over 5 net tons can be documented. You’ll want documentation if you’re planning on going into foreign waters with your vessel, as this documentation gives you the protection and status of a US vessel. In fact, that’s why many people get this kind of documentation: there’s a bit of status to it. On top of that, it makes it much easier to finance your vessel. A majority of lenders require documentation, to secure their interest.

The Top of the Form

When you click on “Initial,” you’ll see a large note at the top. It basically says that just filling out this form isn’t necessarily documentation in its own right. You have to get the form returned to you, this is an application. You can’t just fill this out, send it to us, and say “I have a Certificate of Documentation.” It doesn’t work that way – you’re applying for documentation. Also, to be clear: we’re using the “initial,” but that’s only the right choice if your vessel has never had USCG documentation before. If it has, you’re going to want one of our other forms. Feel free to contact us so that we can find the right form for your needs.

Size of Your Vessel

As we mentioned earlier, if you’re planning on documenting a recreational or pleasure vessel, it has to weigh more than five net tons. Most of us who have a pleasure boat can’t look at it and simply guess its weight. So, we include a good rule of thumb: if the vessel is longer than 25 feet, it’s more likely to measure five net tons. It is of course, pretty easy to measure a vessel. Even if it’s in the water, you can stand by the bow and someone else by the stern with a tape measure. That can give you quite an accurate representation of what size the vessel is.

Picking a name for our vessel should be fun. If you’re like most vessel owners, there’s a name that’s been sailing through your head for many years. It’s important to be as honest as possible when filling out these forms. We understand that some people may be a bit apprehensive about putting their personal information in an online form. It’s important to remember that we do everything we can to make sure that these forms are secure as possible. Indeed, we’ve recently strengthened our security so that it’s stronger than it has ever been. It was strong before, but we’ve realized that you can’t really make your security too strong. We’re always looking for ways to improve the documentation process.

“Honesty is the best policy” in essentially everything, but it’s definitely true of vessel documentation. So, when you get towards the end of the form, click the box that says mostly what you’re going to use the vessel for. You don’t want to “get cute” here, or “try to pull one over on somebody.” This is a place to be as honest as possible. We understand that circumstances can change, sometimes very quickly. That’s one of the many reasons that we’re always glad to talk to customers about their vessel documentation. Feel free to give us a call at (800) 535-8570 or send a message through our site for additional information.