Finding the USCG Documentation, You Need Before Buying A Boat

Be aware of the paperwork requirements established by the U.S. Coast Guard if you consider purchasing a boat. Without the proper papers, there is a good chance that your boat won’t be able to be driven on the street. In this article, we will discuss the many forms of USCG documentation and assist you in determining which sort of documentation best meets your needs. Read on to learn all you need to know about the paperwork required by the U.S. Coast Guard, whether this is your first time purchasing a boat or you want to brush up on your knowledge! Before you may buy a boat, you will require the following paperwork.

Certificate of Documentation as a USCG Documentation

Knowing what you’re getting into is essential before buying a boat. Additionally, you’ll need to consider the expense of the required paperwork and registration. In order to prevent unpleasant shocks later on, you must become aware of these issues. A Certificate of Documentation is one of the first items you’ll need a certificate of documentation. The United States Coast Guard grants an official boat status in the form of this certificate. 

It’s not yet a boat, and without this paperwork, it cannot be registered or allowed to be used on public waterways according to All relevant paperwork is signed and completed, and a certificate of documentation stating that the ship is now licensed to operate in federal waters. Some states allow personal watercraft (PWCs), classified as watercraft less than 16 feet long with no sleeping quarters or sitting arrangements, to be exempt from this requirement.

Coast Guard Registration

Coast Guard registration means your boat has undergone a federal inspection to guarantee its equipment and systems are in excellent operating condition. It also means that if anything goes wrong on the sea or there is an emergency, other boaters can help you. Before you start filling out paperwork or paying fees, it’s helpful to know what you’ll need to register your boat. Engines, generators, refrigeration and air conditioning equipment, pumps, and motors have serial numbers you need to know. Your state registration and ownership paperwork and any registrations with the USCG and Coast Guard Auxiliary will also be required for any boats you presently use. Last but not least, you’ll need images of your boat from all sides, at least one of which should be shot from directly above so that all sides may be seen.

Vessel Hull Identification Number (HIN)

An identification number provided by the USCG to every new vessel constructed in the United States since 1974 is known as the Vessel Hull Identification Number (HIN). It will appear on any confirmed ship built before 1974 and on board any vessel imported into the United States after 1974 or handed from owner to owner. With this number and the original Certificate of Documentation (COD) in hand, you’ll be ready to purchase a secondhand yacht. It is recommended that you install a tiny metal plate to the port side of your vessel, facing the sea, with the COD and HIN written. 

These labels might be hidden behind a sheet of paper or sealed with a sealant that must be removed before you can decipher their meaning. As a result, registering the boat and getting an official Vessel Identification Number (VIN) may be more complicated, making sailing in several situations more challenging. You’ll have to climb aboard the boat if you want to view the hull identification number (HIN).

USCG Documentation

Abstract of title

You don’t want to spend time filling out USCG documentation that you won’t ever need or need, even if you must have complete control of your vessel as soon as possible. Before you purchase a boat, you should check that you have all of the following papers, documentation, and certifications:

According to public records, this summary will tell you who the current owner is; if you locate a boat that you like and that is up for sale in a price range that is within your financial means but nowhere aboard the boat are there any documents of ownership. You may also find out whether any liens were placed against the property when they were the owners of it. This abstract will tell you who the owners got it from, even if the owners haven’t kept up with their paperwork, which is not unusual.

The Maritime Documentation Center is here to help you find what you need from the U.S. Coast Guard before buying a boat. Find out more about USCG Documentation, or call us now at (800)-535-8570 for more.