How Can I Receive a Coast Guard Certificate of Documentation?


This vessel documentation is a national form of boat registration with the United States Coast Guard. Use the following link to apply for a Coast Guard Certificate of Documentation.

A Coast Guard Certificate of Documentation provides for unhindered commerce between states, admits vessels to restricted trades (such as the fisheries and coastwise trade), and provides conclusive evidence of nationality.

Vessels that are documented do not have titles. Instead, they maintain Certificates of Documentation. Depending on the laws in your state, your vessel may need to be registered with the state as well.

CG-1270 is one of the more important vessel documentation forms.

When You Need a U.S. Coast Guard Certificate of Documentation

CG-1270 History

CG-1270 is the code for the United States Coast Guard Certificate of Documentation. It signifies that a vessel has been documented. Vessel documentation in the United States is by no means new. In fact, it goes all the way back to one of the very first acts of the very first Congress. Today, this documentation is used for vessels of a certain size used for different reasons. Of the many reasons we started our site, one of the most important was to make the vessel documentation process easier for all.

What Vessels Qualify for This Form

Any vessel that measures at least five net tons and is owned entirely by an American citizen. However, vessels that must be documented are those which meet the above requirements and are used in coastwise trade or fishing activities on the navigable waters of the United States or in the Exclusive Economic Zone. The latter, commonly abbreviated EEZ, is the water more or less two hundred miles off of the coast of the United States. As you might imagine, there are any number of exceptions to that, specific rules, and so forth. If you have any questions about your vessel documentation eligibility, our staff will be more than happy to answer them. Find out more information on the CG-1270 history here .


Vessel Documentation Renewal

Coast Guard vessel documentation has to be renewed every year. However, this can be renewed for 1-5 years from the date of issuance. Vessel owners can use this link for Coast Guard vessel renewal.

Vessel financing has been enhanced through the availability of preferred mortgages on documented vessels since 1920.

For a recently purchased vessel that already has a documented vessel number, use this form for a USCG documentation transfer.

If you have further questions about American vessel documentation, contact the Vessel Registrar Center at or (800) 535-8570 Monday-Friday, 8 AM to 4:30 PM.