Getting the US Coast Guard Vessel Documentation that Matches Your Vessel

Does it seem like you need US Coast Guard vessel documentation but you aren’t sure if it’s right for you? Are you concerned about doing something that you don’t have to do? Not every vessel owner must get their vessel documented. Yes, there are circumstances within which a vessel owner must document their vessel. That said, there are vessel owners who don’t need to document their vessel who may choose to do so. We make it easier than ever to document your vessel (should you choose to) and then to maintain that documentation. 

US Coast Guard Vessel Documentation Essentials 

You can choose to have your vessel documented if it measures at least five net tons in volume and is owned entirely by a US citizen. Simple rule: if your vessel is longer than 25 feet, it definitely measures to leave five net tons. Now, you have to document your vessel if it meets that size requirement and you’re going to use it for fishing activities or transporting people/goods through the navigable waters of the United States or the US Exclusive Economic Zone. 

US Coast Guard Vessel Documentation

Establishing Vessel Ownership 

If you want to document a vessel that was previously owned by someone else, then you’ll need evidence that the vessel was transferred from the last person who registered, titled, or documents the vessel. Bills of sale can also work here as well. If the vessel is new and was never documented at all, then you can establish ownership by showing a Builder’s Certification, a Manufacturer’s Certificate of Origin, a copy of the State Registration, Title, or foreign registration — any of those that show you (the applicant) own the vessel. 

Is There a Chance Your Vessel is Exempt from Documentation? 

You’ve already put together that your vessel is exempt if you aren’t using it on America’s navigable waters or in the EEZ fisheries. You are also exempt if your vessel is Coastwise qualified, but is a non-self-propelled vessel that’s used in coastwise trade on lakes, rivers, or within a harbor or the internal waters or canals of any state. You’ll note that “lakes” in the last sentence wasn’t capitalized. That’s because if you use such a vessel on the “Great Lakes” you may need to have it documented. 

Getting and Keeping Vessel Documentation 

It’s entirely possible you read the last paragraph and thought: “geez, I was pretty sure I didn’t need to document my vessel. Now, I don’t know.” That’s just one of the many reasons that we have an entire staff dedicated to helping vessel owners such as yourself. If you message us or give us a call, our staff can answer any questions you might have. Or, alternatively, they can take you through an entire form, step by step. Speaking of help with these forms, our document processors can go through all of your answers to make sure that everything is done right after you send them in. for more help, call us at (800) 535-8570.