If you’re an American citizen who owns a vessel that measures at least five net tons, you are eligible for USCG vessel documentation.
If you’re going to use that vessel to transport people and/or merchandise or for commercial fishing activities on the navigable waters of the United States or in the Exclusive Economic Zone, then you must apply for documentation.
Vessel documentation is a national form of boat registration with the United States Coast Guard.
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.
For vessels that have never been documented, use this link for initial 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.
For a recently purchased vessel that already has a documented vessel number, use this form for the Transfer Exchange of USCG Documentation.
Vessel financing has been enhanced through the availability of preferred mortgages on documented vessels since 1920.
If you have further questions about American vessel documentation, contact the Vessel Registrar Center at firstname.lastname@example.org or (800) 535-8570 Monday-Friday, 8 AM to 4:30 PM.