Finding Out Who Owns a Documented Vessel

The maritime world is full of intricacies. One of the questions that often arises is: Who owns a documented vessel? These are ships that traverse the oceans and waterways are protected in a veil of privacy. The identities of the owners are concealed. Is there a way to unveil the owner? 

Knowing Who Owns a Documented Vessel in the US

In the United States, documented vessels are ships that have undergone formal registration with the United States Coast Guard (USCG). When the owner of the ship submits the right documentation and the vessel passes the rigorous examination, a Certificate of Documentation will be issued. It serves as the vessel’s title and proof of ownership. Documented vessels are often used for various purposes, including fishing, research, and recreation. 

Who Can Own a Documented Vessel?

Documented vessels are not restricted to any single type of owner. A range of individuals and entities can own a documented vessel. The eligibility criteria are broad. Here are some of the common categories of documented vessel owners: 


One of the eligibility requirements is that the owner of the vessel must be a US citizen. It should also measure at least five net tons. If your vessel is greater than 27 feet, then it is likely to meet the minimum requirement. 

Government Entities

Government organizations, such as federal, state, or local agencies, can own documented vessels for various purposes. These would include research, law enforcement, and transportation. 

Non-Profit Organizations 

They may own documented vessels for educational, research, or humanitarian purposes. 

The Process of Ownership 

Ownership of a documented vessel involves several key steps: 


The initial step is acquiring the vessel, either through purchase, transfer, or construction. 


As the owner, you will be the one to submit an application for documentation to the USCG. You must provide detailed information about the vessel and its intended use. 


The USCG reviews the application. It ensures that it meets all legal requirements and criteria.

Certificate of Documentation 

Once approved, the USCG issues a Certificate of Documentation, which serves as the vessel’s title and proof of ownership. 

Finding Out the Owner of a Documented Vessel

You may use an online database, like what we offer here. Our database contains information about documented vessels, including ownership details. You may use a vessel documentation search service to achieve your purpose. However, it is important to know that some information is concealed, like the owner’s address. Other details are redacted for privacy reasons. 

Public Records 

Some information related to documented vessels may be accessible through public records. You can explore local or federal records, such as deeds, liens, or financial transactions, which might indirectly lead you to the owner’s identity. 

Subject to Legal Regulations 

It is important to note that obtaining ownership information for a documented vessel is subject to legal regulations. Respect the privacy of vessel owners and ensure that you have a legitimate reason for seeking this information. Unauthorized or intrusive attempts to access ownership information can lead to legal consequences. 

On the other hand, if you do not need to know who owns a documented vessel but want to proceed with documenting your boat, please contact us today. Or just use the forms provided on the left side of the page.