What Is a Documented Vessel and Other Qs Answered?

All US Coast Guard-registered vessels are referred to as “documented.” Understanding the difference between a documented vessel and one undocumented, as well as the consequences of owning each, is critical for US boat owners. Here, we’ll address some frequently asked questions about documented vessels and provide information to assist you in making an informed decision about whether or not you should register your boat. 

A documented vessel has been registered with the Coast Guard in the United States. According to the USCG, all boats must be “documented” before sailing in American waters. Additionally, the United States Coast Guard assigns each documented vessel a homeport (a specific port or marina where the boat will be docked). These requirements make it easier for boat owners to register their vessels and plan their boating activities while keeping an eye on all US-flagged vessels.

What Vessels Should Be Documented?

If your boat exceeds a specific size, the federal government will register it with the US Coast Guard. It’s not going to happen, and there are a few reasons. In the first place, the application procedure is far more stringent in the federal government than in the state government. Their primary concern is to ensure your competence in operating this watercraft and that you are as trustworthy as your appearance suggests. As a condition of the federal register, your boat must undergo a Coast Guard examination to ensure that it is seaworthy and safe to operate by yourself. 

When someone buys a vehicle from a dealership, they don’t have an inspector from the DMV come and check that everything on the car is in excellent functioning condition and safe to drive around. The Coast Guard, on the other hand, does just that with your documented vessel. That means you’ll either be required to rectify the problem or undergo another inspection with them if anything isn’t up to par.

What Is a Vessel Certificate?

Boats deemed up to the criteria set out by the United States Coast Guard are awarded vessel certifications (USCG). A surveyor certified by the USCG may inspect a vessel. If it is found to conform with the standards governing safety, equipment, and stability, it may be awarded a certificate. The certificate will include information regarding the vessel’s condition, such as the year it was built, whether or not it has electricity for propulsion, and the sort of fuel it utilizes. Certificates for vessels are valid for one year; however, each certificate may have a distinct set of requirements and information. For instance, all the information about a documented vessel‘s ownership may be found on its Certificate of Documentation. A Certificate of Inspection covers the fulfillment of specific safety criteria for boats.

What Is the Advantage of a Documented Vessel?

Law requires it in Some Cases.

Documenting a vessel may be done for various reasons, but one of the most prevalent is compliance with legal requirements in certain jurisdictions. Documentation is required of you if you want to use your boat for commercial fishing or compete in specific races, which might earn you money. Similarly, suppose you reside in some regions of the United States (as we do here in Puget Sound). In that case, you must have proper documentation to avoid serious legal trouble or even prison time.

You’ll Have Proof of Ownership.

You’ll be able to prove your ownership of the yacht if it is registered. You may have the title to your boat already, but it might be destroyed or lost, making it useless to you. If the necessity arises, you’ll always have access to the documentation for the vessel if it’s documented. It’s also helpful if you ever want to transfer ownership of the documented vessel since it lets the new owner look up the prior owner’s details. That way, you can be confident that the former owner did all they could to guarantee they were no longer in possession of your yacht when they sold it.

The Coast Guard Can Help Protect Your Boat from Theft

The United States Coast Guard provides a variety of safeguards for boat owners who register their vessels with the agency. To begin, the Coast Guard makes it simple to file a complaint of a stolen watercraft by providing reporting processes that may be completed online or by email. Second, the Coast Guard maintains a database of these reports to make it simple for boat owners to be reconnected with their vessels if they are found. And lastly, if your boat ever capsizes or becomes adrift at sea, you may establish that it is yours to claim as your own so it can be brought back to land.

Documented Vessel

You Can Get Help in An Emergency

It is more probable that someone who can assist you will become aware of the documented vessel. You can either purchase or rent an Emergency Position Identifying Radio Beacon (EPIRB), a device that will transmit a signal to search and rescue agencies indicating where you are located. Another way to draw attention to oneself is to carry flares about you. You don’t have to put all of your eggs in one basket and hope that someone notices your flare going off since there are a variety of different options accessible to you if you have the financial means to do so, such as radios, satellite phones, and flares that come equipped with cameras.

The Maritime Documentation Center, an agency of the United States Coast Guard, is an excellent resource for many questions regarding a documented vessel. The center’s website has comprehensive information about the process of documenting a boat, including documentation fees and what you’ll need to do to fill out the forms. One thing we love about the site is that it lists all the questions they get asked most often and answers them right on the site, saving boaters time and money. Contact the Maritime Documentation Center today at (800)-535-8570 for more.