Ship Shape for Ship Documentation: Who Is and Isn’t Eligible

Do you know if your vessel is eligible for ship documentation? Does it feel like documentation is something that may benefit you, but you aren’t entirely sure if it’s right for you? At the Maritime Documentation Center, we have plenty of customers who come to us for all of their vessel documentation needs. That said, we also have many people who come to our site to determine once and for all if documentation is right for them. Not everyone needs documentation, but some people do. Moreover, some people don’t need documentation but get it for very valid reasons anyway. 

Who Must Have Ship Documentation 

You need to document your vessel if it measures at least five net tons and you’re using it in fishing activities or on navigable waters of the United States or in the United States Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). You also need to get documentation if you’re transporting people or merchandise in those same waters. Now, something to remember: “net tons” is a measurement of volume, it is not a measurement of weight. Keep in mind: a vessel that’s at least 25 feet long is almost invariably going to be five net tons. 

Those That May Choose to Get Vessel Documentation 

You can still get your vessel documented even if you don’t plan on engaging in “coastwise trade,” fishery, foreign trade, or anything of that nature. Really, your vessel is eligible for documentation so long as it measures the aforementioned five net tons and it’s entirely owned by an American citizen. There are exceptions, (such as certain oil response vessels) but those tend to be few and far between. 

Why Get Vessel Documentation if You Don’t Need It? 

For most people, the main reason to get documentation if they don’t need it is so that they qualify for a Preferred Ship’s Mortgage. Those can be very favorable mortgages, making it that much easier to afford the vessel of your dreams. That said, you only qualify for one if your vessel is already documentation or if you at least have the initials documentation, exchange, or replacement on file with the powers that be. Other folks also get their vessels documented so that they can get the official name as well. 

Ship Documentation

A Vessel Documentation Resource Hub 

In truth, vessel documentation is just one of the many ways that we help our customers. We can be there, offering support and more, for every single step of the documentation process. For example, when you’re researching vessels, you can use the Abstract of Title at our site to find out everything you need to know about a prospective vessel purchase before you buy. Then, once you get it, you can get the initial documentation here, but you can also renew it for years in advance as well. Of course, applying for a Preferred ship’s Mortgage and more is a snap here, too. Our staff will be more than happy to answer any questions you might have. For more: (800) 535-8570.