What is USCG Documentation? And Other Questions Answered

“So what is USCG documentation? Do I really need it for my vessel?” Of all the questions we’re asked by prospective customers at the Maritime Documentation Center, some version of those might be the most common that we’re asked. For one, it’s important to define what this documentation is not. It’s not registration for your state or anything like that. What we do here is to make it easier for vessel owners of all kinds to take care of their national form of registration. You may qualify, and if so, there are specific ways that you may want to document your vessel. 

What is USCG Documentation and What Are Its Requirements? 

National registration isn’t new. In fact, it goes all the way back to the very first congress. Your vessel can be documented if it measures five net tons and is owned entirely by an American citizen. To be clear, “measures five net tons” isn’t the same as “weighs five net tons,” as “net tonnage” measures “volume” as opposed to “weight.” Your vessel has to be documented if you’re using it in fishing or coastwise trade activities on the navigable waters of the United States or the Exclusive Economic Zone. The last extends about 200 miles off of the American coastline. 

Are There Different Kinds of Documentation? 

In a way, yes. When you apply for your initial documentation, you’ll note there’s a section J that asks you to pick “endorsements.” Each of those endorsements allows your vessel to serve another purpose. For example, if you’re going to use your vessel for commercial fishing, then “Fishery” is the right endorsement. Consequently, if you’re going to use it to transport people or cargo, then “Coastwise” is the way to go. Using it in foreign waters would best be served with a “Registry” endorsement. “Recreational” fits those who want the benefits of registration while just using their vessel for fun and pleasure. 

How Fast Can I Get It? 

At the Maritime Documentation Center, we make sure to process your forms as quickly as possible. That said, we know there are those who need to have their documents processed as quickly as possible. To help, we offer “rush processing.” Should you avail yourself of that, we make sure to put you at the top of the queue. That way, you can get your forms back that much faster. 

What Happens If I Make a Typo or Mistake With My Documentation?  

Typos happen. If you’re like us, you got your vessel so that you could have a great time or make some money; not to fill out paperwork. That’s why we employ the best document processors in the business. When you send your forms in to us, they’ll go through them completely. Then, if they find any mistakes, no matter how small, they fix them before we pass them on. It’s one more way we make documentation easier for our customers. To see the rest, you can check out our site and fill out our contact form or call (800) 535-8570.