When Do I Need to Have a Lookout on My Vessel?

At all times. According to the Navigation Center of the United States Coast Guard (Rule 5), “every vessel shall at all times maintain a proper look-out by sight and hearing as well as by all available means appropriate in the prevailing circumstances and conditions so as to make a full appraisal of the situation and of the risk of collision.”

To be clear, this does not just refer to USCG documented vessels. This refers to any boat on the water of any size.

In this context, the phrase “look-out” is a noun, referring to someone who watches and listens so as to be fully aware of the vessel as what happens in its vicinity. This person should always be ready to act and not just to watch.

In just about any size vessel, the look-out is not the captain or person at the helm, but rather, someone towards the front of the boat. Typically, they are to be at a remove from distractions on the vessel so that they can better focus on what is ahead, what is around, what is on the water, etc.

Neither Rule 5 nor any other rule stipulate where the look-out must be. However, common sense and competent navigation suggest that the look-out be placed anywhere they could best be equipped to hear and see anything that could potentially collide with the vessel.

If your vessel is eligible, you can use this link to apply for vessel documentation.

How Can I Find The Previous Boat Owner?

To find the previous owner of a vessel, you can apply for an “Abstract of Title” through our site. This Abstract will contain the name of the previous owner as well as other owners during the time the vessel has been documented.

Additionally, this Abstract will contain whether or not there are any liens/mortgages against the vessel, whether they have been satisfied, and other information.

If you have a vessel’s official number or HIN (Hull Identification Number), you can conduct an NVDC vessel search through our site. This will provide information such as the status of the vessel’s Certificate of Documentation, its particulars, and more. This will not, however, provide the identity of the owner.

What is a “Registry Endorsement” Exactly?

A “Registry Endorsement” on a Certificate of Documentation permits a vessel entry into foreign/international trade. Additionally, the vessel can operate in any other foreign/international employment that does not require a Fishery or a Coastwise endorsement.

According to The Code of Federal Regulations 46 CFR 67.17: “A registry endorsement entitles a vessel to employment in the foreign trade; trade with Guam, American Samoa, Wake, Midway, or Kingman Reef; any other employment for which a coastwise, or fishery endorsement is not required.”

Vessel owners can change their vessel’s endorsement/trade indicator at any time through this link to our boat documentation.

My Vessel Was Destroyed in a Natural Disaster. What Should I Do with My USCG Documentation?

If your vessel is no longer usable then you should remove it from the Coast Guard boat registry. To do that, you should file for deletion of your Certificate of Documentation.

The laws regarding Deletion; requirement and procedure can be read here.

At this link, you can file for deletion of your vessel documentation.

Does My Hailing Port Have to Be in the State Where My Vessel is Registered?

Your Hailing Port Does Not Have to Be in the State Where Your Vessel is Registered 
While documented vessels must have a designated “hailing port on boat” or, as it’s also referred to, a “hailing port.” This 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. 

This is the port that the USCG will associate with your vessel. It will be on your Certificate of Documentation as well as on the hull of your vessel. 

Remember: the hailing port is not where the vessel owner hails from, but rather, where the vessel hails from. 

When’s the Best Time to Renew My Vessel Documentation?

We recommend that you renew boat registration within 60 days of the expiration date on your Certificate of Documentation.

If you renew 60 days or fewer before your expiration date, your Certificate of Documentation will have the same expiration date in the following year.

Renewing earlier than 60 days before the expiration date is acceptable, but, you will be given a new expiration date in the following year. This new expiration date will be earlier in the year.

To use an example, if your Certificate of Documentation has an expiration date of November 30th and you decide to renew it in August, then the expiration date next year will be earlier than November. By doing this, you will “waste” money and time.

However, renewing your documentation 60 days or fewer before the expiration date maintains the same expiration date next year.

You can renew your vessel’s documentation for up to 30 days after the expiration date (at the risk of late fees). You cannot renew your Certificate of Documentation later than 30 days after the expiration date, you can only reinstate it.

For more, read Title 46/Chapter I/SubchapterG/Part 67 in the Code of Federal Regulations.

Use this link to renew vessel documentation.

You can use this to reinstate your boat documentation.

Who needs vessel documentation?

To be eligible for USCG documentation, a vessel must meet certain criteria such as size (at least 5 net tons) and must be wholly owned by a citizen of the United States. Vessels that meet those requirements and are to be used for certain commercial activities must be documented.

Vessels that meet the above requirements and are used exclusively for recreational or sporting purposes do not need to be documented. However, they can be documented, should the vessel owner choose to do so.