When is USCG Documentation Required? (And Why You May Want it Anyway)

Have you been concerned that you’ll soon be in a situation where you’ll need USCG documentation? Did you recently purchase a vessel and aren’t sure if it’s the right situation for you and your vessel? Over the years, here at the Maritime Documentation Center, we have helped so many vessel owners who are in your exact situation to figure out what the right thing to do is. Yes, for some vessels it is absolutely necessary. However, some vessel owners who don’t need it may find that it’s still in their best interest to do so. 

Who Can Get USCG Documentation? 

If you are an American citizen and you own a vessel that measures at least five net tons, then you can get your vessel documented. Now, a few caveats: there are exceptions for the kinds of vessels, which would include some oil spill response vessels. Additionally: “five net tons” is a measurement of volume and not of weight. You can have your vessel’s net tonnage measured or, alternatively, you can just measure your vessel’s length. If it’s more than 25 feet, it almost invariably measures at least five net tons. 

USCG Documentation

Who Must Get This Documentation? 

Now, you must get your vessel if you meet the requirements listed above and your vessel is going to be used for fishing activities and/or transporting people and/or goods on the navigable waters of the United States or in the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). Again, there are exceptions here (towboats, dredges, etc.) but they are rare. Different vessels should have different endorsements, such as “Fishery” for those engaging in commercial fishing operations and “coastwise” for those transporting people/goods and the like. 

Why Would You Want to Get This Documentation Even if You Don’t Have to? 

The most common type of endorsement is “recreational,” for those who are just going to use their vessel to have a good time with friends and family on the water. The folks who avail themselves of this endorsement tend to not have to get their vessels documented but do anyway, so that they can take advantage of tax cuts (available in certain states). Also, when your vessel is documented, you’ll be able to get a “First Preferred Ship’s Mortgage” for your documented vessel, which can make it all that much easier to be able to finance it. 

What Documentation Does the Maritime Documentation Center Offer? 

Simply put, we offer just about all of the different vessel documentation that you might need. You can file for your initial documentation here, of course, but you can also renew it as well. In fact, you can renew for up to five years through our site as well. Speaking of the Preferred Ship’s Mortgage, you can apply for that through our site as well. Lesser-known documents such as the MARAD Waiver can be found here as well. To see everything that we offer, simply head to our site today.