US Coast Guard Documentation: Who Does and Doesn’t Need It

Are you uncertain about whether or not you have to get US Coast Guard documentation for your vessel? Have you seen vessel owners in your lake, river, bay, harbor, ocean, or anywhere else that have documentation and are unclear if it’s right for you? It can be confusing, as so many different kinds of vessels, with many different purposes, have the documentation. Here at the Maritime Documentation Center, we have helped so many vessel owners to get the documentation they need. By that same token, we’ve also helped vessel owners to figure out that they didn’t need to get documentation, too. 

You Have a Small Boat You Take Out With Friends and Family 

If this is the case, then you probably do not have to get documentation. After all, the physical requirements of documentation are that it must measure “five net tons.” You’ll note we said “measure” and not “weigh,” as “net tons” measure “volume” and not “weight.” As an approximation, a vessel should be at least 25 feet long to have a chance of measuring five net tons. If yours is shorter/smaller than that, then you, in all likelihood, do not need to get documentation. Of course, if you have any questions about this, we’d be glad to answer them. 

You Have a Large Vessel You Use for Commercial Fishing 

In this case, then yes, you probably do need to get documentation. Going by what we established in the prior paragraph, if your vessel is more than 25 feet long, then it probably measures at least five net tons. Furthermore, if you’re using your vessel to fish on the navigable waters of the United States or in the Exclusive Economic Zone (roughly 200 nautical miles off of the coast of the United States) then you do want to get your vessel documented. Specifically, you probably want to get the “Fishery” endorsement, too. 

You Don’t Make Money With Your Vessel but Want to Get it Documented 

You might have read to this part of the blog and thought: “OK, but my vessel is that big, and while I’m just using it to have a good time, is there any reason I might want to get it documented?”  Absolutely! You may want to get a Preferred Ship’s Mortgage, the bank may ask you to document it before they lend you the money, and so forth. There are plenty of reasons to document if you’d like. 

Meeting All of Your US Coast Guard Documentation Needs 

Should you decide to document your vessel, we can make the entire process that much easier at our site. Beyond that, we make it easier to renew your vessel’s documentation, too. If you want to change your endorsement, we make that a breeze as well. Vessel documentation should not be something that you, as a vessel owner, have to be actively worried about. If you have any questions about how this works, you can call us at (800) 535-8570 or fill out our contact form.