How to Name a Boat

How to Name a Boat

In terms of how to name a boat, the most important factor is to pick something you like that you won’t mind having associated with you. When others see the name of your boat, they aren’t just going to think of the boat, they’re going to think of you. Thus, it behooves you to pick something that you will be proud to have associated with your person.  a boat name

USCG documented vessels must have a name.  

Why is a boat name important?

Aboatname is important for a number of reasons, including:
  • Identification: A vessel name is the primary way to identify a vessel at sea. This is important for safety and security purposes, as well as for communication and coordination between vessels.
  • Identity: A vessel name can be a source of pride and identity for its owner and crew. It can also be a way to represent the vessel’s purpose or mission.
  • Tradition: Vessel naming is a long-standing tradition in the maritime industry. Vessel names can carry a lot of meaning and symbolism for their owners and operators.

In addition to these general reasons, there are also a number of specific reasons why a vessel name may be important. For example, a vessel name may be used to:

  • Track and monitor vessel movements: Vessel names are used in vessel tracking systems to track and monitor the movements of vessels around the world. This information is used for a variety of purposes, including safety, security, and environmental protection.
  • Conduct search and rescue operations: If a vessel is in distress, its name will be used to identify it and to coordinate search and rescue operations.
  • Investigate accidents and maritime crimes: If a vessel is involved in an accident or maritime crime, its name will be used to investigate the incident and to bring those responsible to justice.
  • Market and promote a vessel: Vessel names are used to market and promote vessels to potential buyers and charterers. A well-chosen vessel name can make a vessel more distinctive and memorable, which can help it to stand out from the competition.

Overall, a vessel name is an important part of the vessel’s identity and functionality. It is important to choose a vessel name that is unique, easy to remember, and appropriate for the vessel’s purpose and mission.

If your boat is eligible and you want to obtain documentation, you can use this form to apply for an initial United States Coast Guard Certificate of Documentation.

In the event that your vessel is already USCG documented, use this link to change a boat name

Should there be an outstanding mortgage on the vessel, before you change the vessel’s name you have to apply for permission from the mortgagee/lender. 

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.” a boat name

After the above form has been filed and returned to you, then you can remove the vessel’s previous name and mark the new one. 

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 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.” 

For vessels with a recreational endorsement, “the name and hailing port must be marked together on some clearly visible exterior part of the hull.” 

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.” 

In that same vessel documentation form, you may also change your vessel’s hailing port. 

In regards to designating a hailing port, 46 CFR 67.119 states: 

“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. The hailing port must include the State, territory, or possession in which it is located.” 

Note: the vessel’s hailing port does not have to be the port at which the vessel most often docks. The hailing port can be anywhere you choose, so long as it is a location in America. The hailing port is not where the vessel owner hails from, but rather, where the vessel hails from.

If you have further questions about changing the name of your boat or anything else tied to USCG vessel documentation, contact the Vessel Registrar Center at or (800) 535-8570 Monday-Friday, 8 AM to 4:30 PM.