What is a Documented Vessel and Should I Document Mine?

Have you been wondering what is a documented vessel? Are you unsure about whether or not it’s the right idea to document yours? These are understandable questions. Everything that you have to do to get ready for purchasing a boat (the research, the money, etc.) doesn’t exactly prepare you for the documentation part of it. That, however, is where we can help. Here at the Maritime Documentation Center, we’ve been helping vessel owners with these questions and more for a long time. 

So, What is a Documented Vessel, Anyway? 

A documented vessel is one that’s received its Certificate of Documentation. Among the very oldest functions of the United States Government, vessel documentation was secured in the 11th act of the very First Congress. To lay it out, a documented vessel is one that is legally allowed to have unhindered commerce between the states and even can access (and make money) off of coastwise trade and fisheries. This documentation will serve as conclusive evidence of nationality, should you take the vessel into foreign waters. Additionally, you’ll find it easier to secure a preferred mortgage with this documentation, too. 

How Do I Know if My Vessel Can Be Documented? 

Answering a question with another question isn’t always warranted, but this is one of those moments. Ask yourself: “is the vessel at least five net tons in volume and is it owned by a United States citizen?” If the answer to this is “yes,” then it can be documented. However, and it’s important to note this, it doesn’t have to be documented, it just can be. If you plan on using your vessel to make money, to transport people and/or goods, then you’ll probably need to get it documented. As with just about any law, there are specific exceptions. what is a documented vessel

What Does “Five Net Tons” Mean? 

For one thing, it does not mean “your vessel weighs five tons.” The word “net” means that this requirement is discussing “volume” and not “weight.” So, it would be “five net tons” in the parts of the ship that carry merchandise, people, etc. Now, if that seems a bit overly confusing and complex, it doesn’t have to be. Ask yourself: “is the vessel more than twenty feet long?” If so, given vessel design, then it’s almost assuredly five net tons. Going by that “eye test” is easier than getting your vessel’s net tons measured for most vessel owners. 

A Place to Document Your Vessel and More 

Hopefully, that answered some of the questions that you might have about vessel documentation. However, if you still have some, we’re more than happy to answer them. See, here at the Maritime Documentation Center, we have an expertly trained staff. They’ve been helping vessel owners like you for a very long time. We can answer any questions that you might have or, if you’d like, we can even be on the phone with you as you fill out these forms. For more: (800) 535-8570.