Useful USCG Vessel Documentation You May Not Know

Do you have a vessel that wasn’t made in America that you’d like to get USCG vessel documentation for but aren’t sure if you’re eligible? Alternatively, have you owned a vessel for a while and would like to change how you’re using the vessel? These are just some of the ways that our documentation site can help. The truth is that we have documentation forms that can help with these tasks and more, even if they aren’t the “most used” forms at our site. 

Applying for initial registration, renewing it, applying for a Preferred Ship’s Mortgage, and getting an abstract of the title so as to learn about a particular vessel – those are the forms that many of our customers are more familiar with. However, there are other, lesser-used forms that while a vessel owner may not always need, there could be times when they absolutely need them. As always, our goal is to help as many vessel owners as possible as much as possible. 

The MARAD Waiver 

Whenever possible, the laws of the United States (specifically The Jones Act among others) stipulate that vessels that engage in coastwise commerce throughout America are built right here in America. However, that doesn’t mean that every foreign-built vessel is precluded from American commerce. The “MARAD Waiver” (or “Small Vessel Waiver”) enables certain vessels to operate as commercial passenger vessels in a limited capacity. 

There are stringent requirements for this, however. For starters, the vessel has to be at least three years old, it can’t be too new or too recent. Additionally, it has to be owned entirely by a citizen of the United States or an American organization. 

Lastly, and perhaps most importantly in this context, it can’t carry any more than twelve passengers at a time while in service. You can’t use it for anything else. That means it can’t be used to fish commercially, for salvage, or anything. No, you can just use it to transport people and only a few of them at a time. Again, it’s the “small vessel waiver.” 

The MARAD Process 

At our site, you can find the form. We’ve marked the sections that you absolutely have to fill out. From there, we can make sure it goes to the powers that be. Our document processors will go through it and find any small errors should there be any. Then, once you fill it in, MARAD will publish a Public Notice in the Federal Register for 30 days. This is nothing to be alarmed about; it’s just standard procedure. It will mention how you intend to use your vessel, its details, and so forth. 

As this is going on, the authorities will also investigate to decide whether or not granting you the waiver will negatively impact anyone using American-built vessels in coastal trade, American vessel builders, and so forth. Should they determine that it will not, you’ll be granted the waiver. 

While this can all sound a bit intimidating, keep in mind that, for the most part, MARAD grants a majority of waiver requests. Once this has happened, many vessel owners (if eligible) file for vessel documentation and a coastwise trade indicator. You can do that through our site, too. 

Change of Endorsement/Trade Indicator 

You may have read the above and been confused by the “coastwise trade indicator.” That’s the trade indicator (also called “endorsement”) for those who are going to use their documented vessel for transporting people and/or merchandise on the navigable waters of the United States or in the EEZ/Exclusive Economic Zone

The other common endorsements are “Fishing” (for using your vessel for commercial fishing operations in the same waters), “Registry,” (for foreign trade), and “Recreation,” (when you intend to use your vessel for fun with family and friends, not for commercial purposes). 

Just because you have one endorsement for your vessel, that doesn’t mean you’re stuck with it forever. Indeed, you can change that when you would like. Indeed, all you have to do is to fill out the “Change of Endorsement/Trade Indicator” form at our site. With that, you’ll be able to use your vessel in the manner you want while being in compliance with the powers that be.

USCG Vessel Documentation

A Home for USCG Vessel Documentation 

The above are just some of the many, many forms of boat documentation that you’ll find at our site. Indeed, we have forms that help vessel owners through every step of vessel ownership. From the initial research of a vessel through the initial registration to renewing that registration, getting a Preferred Ship’s Mortgage, paying off that mortgage, and selling the vessel, we have what you may need no matter where your journey takes you. To see all of the different forms that we offer, head to our site today.