US Coast Guard Certificate of Documentation [CG-1270] Guide

Are you considering getting a Certificate of Documentation for your vessel but aren’t sure if it’s the right course of action? Do you have questions about your eligibility for a Certificate of Documentation? We designed the Maritime Documentation Center, in part, to help with those exact queries. Of all of the forms that we assist vessel owners in acquiring, the most common very well may be the US Coast Guard Certificate of Documentation [CG-1270]

Often, it is the very first form of documentation that a vessel owner gets for their body. It is rarely the last. However, before deciding whether or not to get it, it’s important to know exactly what it can and cannot do, who is eligible for it and who would best be served by making a different decision for their vessel. 

Certificate of Documentation Eligibility 

You are eligible for this certificate if your vessel is owned entirely by an American citizen and it measures a minimum of five net tons. As you may know, “net tons” measure volume. It does not measure weight. Thus, if you have questions about your eligibility, you should measure your vessel’s volume. A simple method many use: measure your vessel’s length. If it’s longer than 25 feet, then your vessel is almost assuredly five net tons minimum. 

Some can choose to document their vessel whereas others are required to by law. In terms of the latter, if your vessel is going to be used for “coastwise trade” (transporting people and/or merchandise) or fishing activities in the Exclusive Economic Zone or the navigable waters of the United States, then you must document your vessel. 

US Coast Guard Certificate of Documentation [CG-1270] Benefits 

You do not need to use your vessel in a commercial capacity to be able to document it. Indeed, a majority of documented vessel owners do not use their vessels commercially. A documented vessel is eligible for what’s called a “Preferred Ship’s Mortgage.” This kind of financing has made it possible for many to be able to afford the vessel that they want. 

Beyond that, in regards to coastwise trade, fishing activities and the like, documentation grants entry into those restricted trades. Moreover, documentation is conclusive, irrefutable evidence of your vessel’s nationality when you’re traveling in foreign waters. When your vessel is documented, you are not required to display your vessel’s official number on the outside of the hull. Instead, you can identify your vessel by its name and hailing port. 

Types of Documentation 

Different vessels are documented for different purposes. There are varying “endorsements,” each of which can be appropriate for one vessel or another. For those who do not plan to use their vessel for any commercial purposes, the “Recreation” endorsement may be most appropriate. Indeed, that’s one that many vessel owners use who have documented their vessels for financing. 

If a vessel is to be used for coastwise trade or fishing activities, then the correct endorsement is either “Coastwise” or “Fishery,” respectively. Another endorsement, “Registry,” is mostly used for those vessels which are going to be used for foreign trade. 

Documentation Renewal, Expiration, Replacement, and More 

Certificate of Documentation eligibility lasts for exactly one year. At that point, it must be renewed so as to maintain registration status. You can renew your documentation for up to five years in advance through our site. 

Additionally, to be in compliance, you need to have your actual, physical Certificate of Documentation. A copy, a picture on your phone/in the cloud/something similar is not an appropriate substitute. If your certificate is lost or otherwise destroyed, we can help you to apply for a replacement through our site. 

Some vessel owners, for many reasons, either forget to renew their vessel documentation, lose track of it, and so forth. Should the expiration date for your documentation have expired, a “reinstatement” option is available. With this, you can apply to maintain your registration status.

US Coast Guard Certificate of Documentation [CG-1270]

A Simpler Process 

All of the above forms and services are available at our site. You can come to our site and find essentially all of the vessel documentation forms that you may need for the course of owning your vessel. That includes the initial Certificate of Documentation application, yes, but it also includes your renewal forms, reinstatement, even applying for the Preferred Ship’s Mortgage, satisfying it, and so forth. 

Beyond that, we also want to make the documentation process easier for vessel owners from all walks of life. To that end, we’ve made it so that our forms can be filled out on any device from anywhere. Should you make any errors, no matter how small, our document processors can find them and fix them in time. To see all of the forms that we offer, head to our site.