How to Manage a Transfer Exchange of USCG Documentation

When you are about to sell a boat, it is important that you know exactly what you have to do when it comes to completing the paperwork. This is vital if you have a certificate of documentation, which comes from a federal body and needs to be exchanged so that it satisfies every legal requirement. To make certain that you have completed a Transfer Exchange of USCG documentation to the Coast Guard’s satisfaction, you need to complete a new form and submit all of the necessary paperwork showing that you are no longer the owner of the vessel.


Transferring or Selling a Vessel

A transfer of documentation does not only occur when the boat is sold to a new owner. In fact, whenever something happens which affects the ownership of the vessel, the documentation will need to be changed. This includes adding a spouse to the list of owners, or removing someone after a death or divorce. Whatever type of change you make, you will need to fill in the paperwork and conduct a transfer of documentation. Only once the paperwork is complete will the transfer be in effect, so it is vital that you get this documentation change completed quickly if you are selling your boat or changing ownership.


The Legal Requirement for Transfer of Documentation

There is a legal requirement that you must fill in the transfer of documentation forms and provide evidence. This is called the “Requirement for exchange of Certificate of Documentation.” It states that the owner must “Send or deliver the Certificate…and apply for an exchange of the certificate.” This must occur when:

  • The vessel changes ownership.
  • The vessel-owning partnership adds or removes members.
  • The vessel ownership is incorporated by another business.
  • The vessel’s name is changed.
  • The home port of the vessel is changed.
  • The vessel is under the command of someone who is not a US citizen.

The certificate of documentation may also become invalid if someone owning any part of the vessel dies; if there is a change to the net tonnage of the vessel; self-propelling boats become non-propelling, or vice versa. Additionally, the documentation may become invalid if there are changes to the ownership of the vessel, or if there is a substantial error made in issuing the certification. In all of these circumstances, you must apply for new documentation.

What Evidence Need To Be Submitted

When you apply for a change of documentation, you must apply by sending in evidence of the change. This evidence will include the existing certificate of documentation, which includes the signature of the seller made before a public notary. You must also include a bill of sale, either the original or a copy. Signatures must again be acknowledged by the notary. If there is a lien on the boat, you must complete the Satisfaction of Mortgage form signed by you and the bank or lender. This part is very important to ensure the documentation is approved, as explained below. You must also submit payments for these forms. If there is any problem with the forms, then the paperwork will rejected and returned to you. Additionally, you will not receive this payment back, so you need to make sure that you complete all of the forms correctly the first time in order to avoid overpaying.


Complicating Factors In a Transfer Exchange of USCG Documentation

As with most types of federal paperwork, things become more complicated if there are other factors affecting the sale of the boat. By far the most important of these is if the vessel currently has a Preferred Ship Mortgage, a lien which affects who owns the boat. You will have to satisfy that mortgage through repayment before you can complete the transfer, and before the paperwork can be submitted. Other factors include transferring the vessel from single ownership into a corporation, or putting it into a trust. Whether this is a unique transfer, or is connected to other business deals or the handling of an estate, you will have to complete several parts of the form in order to transfer the vessel to new ownership. The more complicated your financial or ownership arrangements, the harder it will be to transfer your vessel using the basic parts of the form, and you may benefit from assistance with getting the transfer documentation completed.


Finding Help With Transfer Documentation

When you need assistance with selling or changing the ownership of your vessel using transfer exchange forms from the USCG, you need help from the Maritime Documentation Center. Our teams are experienced in helping many people through the process of completing Coast Guard documentation forms, and can be very useful when it comes to the complicated process of filling in forms and providing evidence relating to a transfer of ownership. When you need professional help with getting this paperwork submitted quickly, you need to talk to the team at the Maritime Documentation Center today either by emailing us at or by calling the team at (800) 535-8570 now.