Do I Need a Title for My Documented Vessel?


You do not need a title for Coast Guard documented vessels. 

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.
Documented Vessel Eligibility
If you are a citizen of the United States and your vessel measures at least five net tons, then your vessel is eligible for documentation.

Use this link to apply to make yours a Coast Guard documented vessel

This 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.
Maintaining Your Vessel Documentation 
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 to renew vessel documentation.

Are There Advantages to US Coast Guard Boat Documentation?

US Coast Guard Boat Documentation Advantages
Yes. Documented vessels are allowed into certain trades, such as the fisheries or engaging in coastwise trade (such as transporting people and/or merchandise) on the navigable waters of the United States or the Exclusive Economic Zone. Eligible vessels are unable to do so without documentation. 

Furthermore, vessel documentation often makes clearing customers easier, dealing with foreign ports and the like. 
Documented Vessels Can Apply for a Preferred Ship's Mortgage
USCG documentation makes it possible for financial institutions to offer a Preferred Mortgage. For a majority of vessel owners who wish to finance a vessel, they will most likely have to document their vessels. 

Use this form to apply for initial US Coast Guard boat documentation.

Vessel owners who wish to do so can use this form to apply for a Preferred Ship's Mortgage.
Endorsements and Vessel Documentation Laws
When documenting a vessel, vessel owners must choose an endorsement for their vessel. Examples of these include "Registry," "Coastwise," "Fishery," and "Recreational." All vessels can be used recreationally but vessels with a "Recreational" endorsement can only be used for recreation.

What Are the Coast Guard Requirements for Boats?

To be eligible for USCG vessel documentation, the Coast Guard requirements for boats include citizen requirements, size (tonnage) requirements, and marking requirements. 

First, according to 46 CFR 67.5, “any vessel of at least five net tons wholly owned by a citizen or citizens of the United States is eligible for documentation. This includes, but is not limited to, vessels used exclusively for recreational purposes and vessels used in foreign trade.” 

How Do I Check if a Documented Vessel Has a Lien Against It?

To discover if a documented vessel has an outstanding lien or mortgage against it (or had one in the past that was satisfied), vessel owners can apply for an Abstract of Title. 

This form will contain that information about encumbrances such as liens and mortgages. Additionally, the Abstract will include information about the vessel’s current ownership as well as its chain of ownership. This information was removed from vessel documentation searches sometime in 2018. 

Use this link to apply for a USCG Abstract of Title.

How Can I Find Out Who Owns This Yacht?

Interested parties can find vessel ownership information by applying for an Abstract of Title. 

An Abstract of Title will include the managing owner of a documented vessel as well as the ownership history of a vessel and the status of any encumbrances/liens on the vessel. 

Use this form to apply for an Abstract of Title

What Do I Have to Do With a Certificate of Documentation?

A Certificate of Documentation must remain on board a documented vessel according to 46 CFR 67.313. 

That states, under “Requirement to have Certificate of Documentation on board,” that “the person in command of a documented vessel must have on board that vessel the original Certificate of Documentation currently in effect for that vessel.” 

How Do I Access a Boat Name Database?

Our site can be accessed for a “boat name search” of sorts. Through this search function, vessel owners can search for vessels by Official Number (ON) and Hull Identification Number (HIN). 

With this search, vessel owners can learn the name of a vessel. Additionally, they can find information such as the vessel’s flag, its service information, tonnage, dimensions, and even when its Certificate of Documentation was issued as well as when it will expire.

Steps to access a boat name database

Navigate to the vessel documentation search: Look for a section or link on the website that allows you to search for vessel documentation. This may be labeled as "Vessel Search," "Documentation Search," or something similar.
Enter the boat name: Once you've accessed the search function, enter the boat name you want to search for. You may also need to specify other search criteria, such as the state of registration or the vessel's documentation number if you have that information.
Review the results: After submitting your search, you should receive a list of vessels that match the name or criteria you entered. You can then click on a specific vessel to access more detailed information, including ownership and registration details.

Use this link to conduct this vessel documentation search
Other Ways to Access Boat Name Database
Accessing a boat name database can be useful if you're looking for information about specific boats or if you're interested in naming your own boat and want to check if the name is already in use.

What is a Hull Identification Number?

The HIN regulations are quite easy to understand compared to some of the more complex regulations involved in boating, by which everyone must comply. We frequently receive many calls and messages on the subject, and we'd like to offer more information on HIN.
The HIN (“Hull Identification Number”) can be used to tell you the year the vessel was manufactured. Additionally, it can reveal the month, as well as other information you need to know about your vessel. 

Where to Find HIN on a Vessel?
The primary HIN must be permanently engraved or pasted on the hull on the starboard side of the transom within two inches of the top of the transom, gunwale, or hull/deck joint so that it can be seen from outside the boat. For registration purposes, to identify the vessel's hull number some states may require a pencil rubbing or tracing of the hull number. To create a pencil tracing, place a blank piece of paper on top of the number and rub a pencil across the paper so that an impression of the number appears. If the rubbing is not clearly legible write the numbers you see adjacent to the rubbing and take a digital photograph.

What Does Port Mean in Latin?

The word “Port” comes from “Portus.” In Latin, that word essentially means “haven” or “harbor,” both of which can be synonymous with a “port.” A port is a place where you can dock your vessel, where you are safe from the threats of the ocean, and so forth. 

A “hailing port,” then, is, in the context of USCG vessel documentation, the place from which the vessel can claim origin. It does not matter where this is (indeed, the location does not have to be coastal or close to any body of water). This hailing port can be a location of the vessel owner’s choosing, so long as it is a place in the United States that’s included in the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Federal Information Processing Standards Publication 55DC.” 

A vessel owner can change their hailing port as well as their vessel name using this form

A vessel can owner can use this form to apply for initial US vessel documentation, choosing a hailing port there.

How to Get a Manufacturer Certificate of Origin for a Vessel

How to Get a Manufacturer Certificate of Origin for a Vessel?
A vessel owner should receive a Certificate of Origin when they purchase a vessel from a boat manufacturer or importer. This Certificate can be used to both register a vessel with a state and to obtain title. You can also use this to establish ownership when applying for a Certificate of Documentation with the USCG. 

You can use this form to apply for initial US vessel documentation

How Do I Transfer Title After My Spouse Has Passed Away?

If your vessel has a title,  you should contact the appropriate governing body in your state. 

If your vessel is documented with the USCG, then you should complete this form for Transfer Exchange of USCG Documentation

Remember: if the vessel has mortgages or liens against it, then you either must satisfy those or get the permission of the mortgage/lienholder. Submit that with your application above. 

Depending on if you wish to exchange the vessel documentation for your own (or another Representative, Estate Heir, Administrators, and so forth) then you may also need to present a Certified Death Certificate and other evidence. For further information, you can reach us at info@usregistrar.us