Is It Legal to Sail While Waiting for Vessel Documentation to Complete?

Having a boat can give you a life’s pleasure that not everyone has the privilege to experience. You may master boating skills to ensure that your boat sails in the right direction. But that’s not all you need to consider. You also have to think about vessel documentation. That is if your boat requires to be documented. 

Vessel Documentation Process 

It is a crucial process to document your boat with the USCG if it meets the requirements. This will ensure that you are in compliance with federal regulations and enhance safety and security in the maritime industry. 

You may say that it may be safe to sail while still waiting for the documentation process to complete. Although it is possible to sail a vessel while still waiting for it documented, there are key considerations to be taken into account: 

Eligibility for Documentation

Before dialing, ensure that your vessel is eligible for documentation with the USCG. Vessels engaged in foreign trade, coastwise trade, or certain government functions are typically eligible. If your vessel does not meet these criteria, it may not be eligible for documentation, and you should seek state-level registration or title instead. 

Pending Application 

If you submitted a complete documentation application to the USCG, you may legally sail your vessel while the application is pending. However, you should keep a copy of your application, proof of submission, and any correspondence from the USCG onboard to demonstrate that you are in the process of obtaining documentation. 

Documentation Renewal 

If you already possess a valid COD and are in the process of renewing it, you can typically continue sailing your vessel legally as long as you initiated the rental before the current COD’s expiration date. 

Compliance with State Regulations

While federal documentation allows for international navigation, you must comply with state-level regulations regarding vessel operation. These would include safety equipment, licensing, and registration requirements. State regulations may vary, so it is essential to be aware of and adhere to the rules of the state in which you are operating. 

Insurance Considerations 

Some insurance providers may require that your vessel is documented with the USCG to maintain coverage. Be sure to check your insurance policy and communicate with your provider about any requirements related to vessel documentation. 

Pending COD Receipt

Keep in mind that even if you have submitted a documentation application, you should refrain from engaging in international trade or carrying passengers for hire until you have received your COD. 

Vessel Documentation

Navigating Legally 

It is generally legal to sail a vessel while still waiting for USCG documentation. However, you should exercise caution and ensure compliance with federal and state regulations. Maintaining proper documentation and adhering to safety and operational requirements is essential. Use our documentation processing service to streamline the process of documenting your boat. 

On the left side of this page, you can find various options on how to go about vessel documentation. You may choose Initial, Renewal, or Reinstatement. For further inquiries, you may contact us. We will guide you through the process that you need to sail your boat legally.