Changing the name of a boat can be done through the Vessel Registrar Center.
Interested vessel owners can use this link for changing the name of a boat.
Note: this form can also be used to select a new hailing port for your vessel. A documented vessel’s hailing port need not be the port the vessel docks at the most. Additionally, it also does not have to be the port closest to the vessel owner. The hailing port need only be somewhere in the United States.
Changing the Name of a Boat: Good Practices
Vessel owners can name their documented boat anything they want with some exceptions. Use common sense. This name will be associated with the vessel as well as the owner.
In regards to the vessel name, 46 CFR 67.117 states:
“The name designated: must be composed of letters or the Latin alphabet or Arabic or Roman numerals; may not be identical, actually or phonetically, to any word or words used to solicit assistance at sea; and may not contain nor be phonetically identical to obscene, indecent, or profane language, or to racial or ethnic epithets.”
Before you change the vessel’s name you have to apply for permission from the mortgagee/lender if there is an outstanding mortgage on the vessel.
Appropriate Markings for Your Boat’s Name
The requirements for marking your vessel’s name and hailing port are as follows, according to 46 CFR 67.123:
“The name of the vessel must be marked on some clearly visible exterior part of the port and starboard bow and the stern of the vessel. The hailing port of the vessel must be marked on some clearly exterior part of the stern of the vessel.”
For vessels with a recreational endorsement, “the name and hailing port must be marked together on some clearly visible exterior part of the hull.”
For vessels with a square bow, “the name of the vessel must be marked on some clearly visible exterior part of the bow in a manner to avoid obliteration. The name and hailing port must be marked on some clearly visible exterior part of the stern.”
In terms of materials, the markings “may be made by the use of any means and materials which result in durable markings, must be made in clearly legible letters of the Latin alphabet or Arabic or Roman numerals not less than four inches in height.”
If you have further questions about changing your boat name, selecting a new hailing port, or anything else related to vessel documentation, contact the Vessel Registrar Center at email@example.com or (800) 535-8570 Monday-Friday, 8 AM to 4:30 PM.
Relevant Laws For Selecting a Boat Name and Hailing Port
- 67.120 General requirement.
No Certificate of Documentation issued under this part will be deemed valid for operation of the vessel until the vessel is marked in accordance with this subpart.
- 67.121 Official number marking requirement.
The official number of the vessel, preceded by the abbreviation “NO.” must be marked in block-type Arabic numerals not less than three inches in height on some clearly visible interior structural part of the hull. The number must be permanently affixed to the vessel so that alteration, removal, or replacement would be obvious. If the official number is on a separate plate, the plate must be fastened in such a manner that its removal would normally cause some scarring of or damage to the surrounding hull area.
- 67.117 Vessel name designation.
(a) The owner of a vessel must designate a name for the vessel on the Application for Initial Issue, Exchange, or Replacement of Certificate of Documentation; or Redocumentation (form CG–1258) submitted to the Director, National Vessel Documentation Center:
(1) Upon application for initial documentation of the vessel; or
(2) When the owner elects to change the name of the vessel.
(b) The name designated:
(1) Must be composed of letters of the Latin alphabet or Arabic or Roman numerals;
(2) May not be identical, actually or phonetically, to any word or words used to solicit assistance at sea; and
(3) May not contain nor be phonetically identical to obscene, indecent, or profane language, or to racial or ethnic epithets.
(c) The name of a documented vessel may not be changed without the prior approval of the Director, National Vessel Documentation Center.
(d) Until such time as the owner of a vessel elects to change the name of a vessel, the provisions of paragraph (b) of this section do not apply to vessels validly documented before January 1, 1994.
- 67.119 Hailing port designation.
(a) Upon application for any Certificate of Documentation, the owner of a vessel must designate a hailing port to be marked upon the vessel.
(b) The hailing port must be a place in the United States included in the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Federal Information Processing Standards Publication 55DC.
(c) The hailing port must include the State, territory, or possession in which it is located.
(d) The Director, National Vessel Documentation Center has final authority to settle disputes as to the propriety of the hailing port designated.
(e) Until such time as the vessel owner elects to designate a new hailing port, the provisions of paragraph (c) of this section do not apply to vessels which were issued a Certificate of Documentation before July 1, 1982.