Do You Have to Get Ship Documentation?

When you first decide that you are going to purchase a boat, either for your business or for personal use, you should put some time into planning, researching, and learning as much as you can about the process before you jump in and spend the money on a boat. Some people may want to get a brand-new ship right from the builder, while others may turn to the secondary market to save some money and get the vessel they want. Whatever situation you may find yourself in, it is a good idea for you to learn about what is required of you regarding paperwork and registration. You may have options available to you and determining if you must get ships documentation can be the first step for you to take.

Who Needs Documentation?

If you are buying a recreational vessel and plan to use it just to take vacations, go on fishing trips with friends, or spend days relaxing on the water, there is no legal requirement for you to seek federal documentation from the Coast Guard. If you prefer, you could register with your state instead and have just that number for your vessel. However, if you have a boat that you are going to use for commercial purposes, such as a charter boat, a transportation boat, shipping, or other business, the Coast Guard does require that you become part of the federal registry and get a Certificate of Documentation (COD). You will need to go through the initial application process, filling out paperwork, providing identification to show you are a U.S. citizen, and you must pay a registration fee.

Why Get Documentation?

Even if you do not need to get ship documentation, you may decide that having it is beneficial to you. Becoming part of the federal database and getting a COD does have its benefits for recreational owners. The COD can help to facilitate getting you through security when you travel to international ports. The COD provides you with certain rights as U.S. citizen that can assist you. Getting documented may also help you when it comes to a mortgage and financing for your purchase. Many banks and financial institutions require documentation as a condition of lending for a boat because it offers a stronger guarantee for the lien.

How to Get Documentation

If getting ships documentation is something you want to do or need to do for your vessel, come to us at the Maritime Documentation Center for assistance. Our website, encryption, and technology make the documentation process safer, faster, and easier for boat owners of all kinds. You can fill out your application and file it, along with your supporting documents, electronically. AS a third-party processing company, we have experts that double-check your application for accuracy to avoid mistakes that could delay the process. We will then send everything to the Coast Guard for you and track progress for you so you know just when you can expect your COD to arrive.