What is a preferred mortgage?

A preferred mortgage is a mortgage which is given status as a maritime lien. As such it enjoys a certain priority in the event of default. In addition, the Coast Guard is prohibited from making certain changes in documentation including, but not limited to, change of vessel ownership, name, and hailing port without consent of the mortgagee. For this reason many financial institutions require vessels which are eligible for documentation to be documented and to have preferred mortgages recorded against them.

Where can I get forms for documentation?

United States Coast Guard vessel documentation forms are available online at this website. Upon completion, all forms automatically forward to Documentation Processors for review. 

Must I submit my application by mail?

No, you do not have to submit any vessel documentation by mail.

Completing boat documentation online can expedite the process, as it is not subject to potential delays (as mail submission may). 

Is the vessel tender documented?

Vessel documentation does not cover a vessel’s tender or dinghy. 

As those measure less than five net tons, they are not eligible for vessel documentation. 

How long is the certificate of documentation valid?

Provided there are no changes other than the owner’s address, a Certificate of Documentation is valid for one year from the date of issue. 

Previously, any Certificate of Documentation had to be renewed annually.