Should You Make Your Vessel a Documented Vessel?

Are you considering documenting your vessel but you aren’t sure if it’s the right thing to do? Before you make a decision one way or the other, do you want to know more? Over the years, we’ve helped so many to document their vessels here at the Maritime Documentation Center. That said, to be properly used, not every vessel has to be a documented vessel. Below are the qualifications as well as some of the benefits of documenting your vessel. 

You Can Document Your Vessel If… 

Vessels can be documented if they measure five net tons and are wholly owned by a citizen of the United States. “Net tonnage,” as you may know, isn’t a measurement of weight as it is volume. You can have your vessel’s tonnage measured or, alternatively, if your vessel is 25 feet in length or longer, it almost invariably measures more than five net tons. 

Commercial Reasons to Document Your Vessel 

The above has been said, you have to document your vessel if you plan on using it for certain activities. Specifically, you have to document it if you’re going to use it for commercial fishing on the navigable waters of the United States or the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). Additionally, you have to document your vessel if you’re going to use it to transfer people and/or merchandise on those same waters (which is referred to as “coastwise” trade). You can document your vessel if you’re going to use it for foreign trade, too. 

Insurance Benefits of a Documented Vessel 

Now, you can still document your vessel even if you don’t plan on using it for any commercial activities. A majority of the people who document their vessel, in fact, only use it for recreation, to have a good time with friends and family. One of the main reasons they document a recreational vessel is to qualify for a Preferred Ship’s Mortgage. It’s essentially impossible to get one of these mortgages without documenting your vessel. When you pay that mortgage off, you can use our site to find the right form for that, too. 

Learning About Vessels and Their Documentation 

If you have your eye on a particular vessel that you want to know more about, you can use our site for that, too. You can perform a free vessel documentation search at our site. So long as you know the official number or HIN (Hull Identification Number), you can learn about when a vessel’s Certificate of Documentation was issued when it expires, and more info. If you want to learn the identity of the owner, you can request an Abstract of the Title here as well. 

Documented Vessel

Vessel Documentation Moving Forward

With the information above, you may be one step closer to knowing whether or not you want a documented vessel. If you choose to do so, you can find vessel documentation forms throughout the course of vessel ownership at our site. From your initial research to selling your vessel (and everything in between) you can find it all here.