What Is the Process for Registering a Boat with the USCG and Your State District

It is once again that time of year when boat owners get their boats ready for the enjoyment that can be had on the water during the summer months. When getting your boat ready to go out on the water, don’t forget to register it with the United States Coast Guard (USCG) and the state district where you live. The procedure is not very complicated; nonetheless, there are a few things that you should be familiar with before beginning.

We will guide you through the process of registering your boat with the United States Coast Guard (USCG) and the appropriate state district in this article on our blog. Boat ownership comes with a significant amount of responsibility, but it also comes with a significant amount of enjoyment. Here are some steps you should take to ensure that the process of registering your boat with the US Coast Guard and your state district goes as quickly and easily as possible. These steps are especially helpful if you are new to boat ownership or just getting ready to register your boat.

Find Out Your State’s Requirements for Registering Boats

Since the rules for registering a yacht differ from state to state and the USCG has its requirements, the first step is to research those regulations. The rules for boat registration vary from state to state; therefore, it’s crucial to learn the rules on your own. You may get this data by calling or visiting the website of your state’s Department of Natural Resources.

If you go to each organization’s official website and search for the term “boat registration,” you should get the information you need. The Certificate of Documentation (COD) that the US Coast Guard gives you is the legal ownership of your boat. A five-year renewal is required once this expires. There will be a signature block, vessel description, owner’s name, vessel name, and home port listed across the top of the COD. Submit a formal letter with your request if you need to alter any of these provisions (for instance, because you’re relocating).

Complete the Required Paperwork by the USCG

Collect your personal information and documentation, including your driver’s license, Social Security number, and original birth certificate. Your title, registration certificate, or bill of sale may also be required. Create many copies of each. In addition, you’ll need to carry each of this paperwork with you to the USCG station, where you register your yacht. They will provide you with a form to submit this information to the DNR in the state where you now reside, as well as a form to submit to the USCG.

It will take around an hour to finish everything up. The form that has to be filled out by the boat owner for the DNR is quite simple to complete, while the form that needs to be filled out by the boat owner for the USCG is a little bit more involved since it contains many pages worth of questions regarding how the boat is used.

Find Out If Your State Requires a Safety Inspection for Your Type of Boat before You Can Register It

Ensure to take care of a few things before visiting the state district office to register your boat for sea trials. If you want to know if a safety inspection is necessary, contact your state’s transportation department. An inspection may be needed just once a year or not in certain states. Without prior knowledge, you can waste time waiting for an unnecessary inspection. Before taking your boat to the local government office, ensure it is properly registered.

Make sure your registration is in order and up-to-date before entering the building. When anything goes wrong with your boat, it is much easier to verify ownership if you have a paper trail of registration to rely on. Make sure the boat has the necessary safety gear. This covers life jackets, flares, fire extinguishers, fire blankets, etc., but did you realize that it also includes running lights and a horn? Check that everything you need is included.


Determine What Type of Vessel You Have

If you’re looking to purchase a boat or just bought one, you should know that there are varying requirements for registering (and titling) a boat depending on whether oars, wind, or engine drive it. The USCG does not need boat registration if the vessel is smaller than 16 feet long and is propelled only by oars, according to govinfo.gov.

A boat driven only by the wind and less than 16 feet long also does not need registration. In contrast, the Small Vessel Regulation (SVR) and the Inland Rule are what you should investigate further if you have a larger boat or a sailboat between 16 and 26 feet in length, respectively. If your state imposes an ad valorem tax on vessels less than 26 feet, you must follow the SVR; otherwise, you must follow the Inland Rule. In contrast to the Inland Rule, the SVR mandates that all boaters have liability insurance.

What do you need to do if you’ve got a boat and are looking to register it? The short answer is that you’ll need to contact the Maritime Documentation Center at 800-535-8570. This will get you in touch with someone who can walk you through the process and answer any questions.