Does my documented vessel have to be registered in Maryland?

No, it does not. According to the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, however, “federally documented vessels principally operated in Maryland will not be numbered in Maryland but must display documented use decals.”

Those decals must be displayed on the starboard and port side of the forward half of the vessel. Moreover, they must be displayed in such a way that someone on a passing vessel could see them easily. Use common sense here.

In Maryland, a vessel is considered “federally documented” when it has both a Certificate of Documentation and the official number has been carved into a main structural member or a main beam. Simply applying isn’t enough to exempt the vessel from state titling and numbering requirements. So, to operate on Maryland waters, a vessel must have a valid Certificate of Vessel Number as well as display registration decals and a boat number until it is officially documented.

Additionally, a documented vessel in Maryland is subject to the vessel excise tax. This 5 percent tax must be paid to the Maryland DNR within 30 days of a documented vessel with principal operation in Maryland being traded, sold, or transferred in the state. Tax is due within 30 days of the date upon which the possession within the state became subject to the tax if the vessel was purchased outside of the State of Maryland. To simplify all of this, the tax is due at the time the vessel is principally operated in Maryland.

The initial application for documented use decals in Maryland includes: a copy of the official documentation papers issued in the owner’s name, evidence of the purchase price, and evidence that the Maryland excise tax was paid at the time of purchase or to pay the appropriate tax as well as penalty and interest, if necessary.

To document your vessel with the Coast Guard, click here.