Documented Vessel Search (USCG Lookup)

Use these search tools to lookup a Coast Guard Vessel by Name or HIN. With this free database search you can find the USCG Number lookup as well. Our Vessel documentation search is free

Free Vessel Documentation Search Lookup

In this article we will explain the different kinds of ID numbers for vessels and give 4 places you can do free Vessel Documentation Search Lookups. We also give our secret tip on how to find out the owner name for a documented vessel.

The Coast Guard and national documentation center (NVDC) can get pretty complicated as with many government agencies. Finding information and accessing coast guard vessel databases about a vessel can be complicated; but fortunately, there are companies making Vessel Documentation Search much easier now. additionally, personally identifiable information is no longer available due to privacy laws. This means that owner names are hard to find out but not impossible if you know how.

What is a USCG documented vessel?

USCG Documentation is a national form of registering a boat. If your vessel is eligible you can document it with the Coast Guard instead of titling it with the state. You will then obtain the COD. Once the vessel is documented with the USCG are able to buy it on financing and will have a primary ID number that stays with it for life.

What is the USCG official number?

The National Vessel Documentation Center NVDC is solely responsible for the issuance of vessel documentation numbers in the US. It will be a 6 or 7 digit number. It should be permanently affixed on your vessel with the letters “NO.” next to it.

Is the USCG No. the same as MMSI or IMO number?

First, what is a MMSI vessel number? The Maritime Mobile Service Identity (MMSI) is a nine-digit number much like a cell phone number. It is used to identify your vessel or boat because it is programmed into your digital maritime radio!

Second, what is an IMO number? The International Maritime Organization (IMO) number is a unique identifier for ships, registered ship owners and management companies. It is used for large ships usually. “IHS Maritime” is the manager of the IMO numbers system and they issue IMO numbers without charge.

So, is the USCG official number the same as IMO or MMSI? No, they are different identification numbers.

New methods of looking up USCG Vessels is offering these three tools below to help people search for documented vessel information by number, vessel name, or HIN. We hope that you support us in keeping this tool free by ordering the title abstracts through us instead of other more expensive brokers.

USCG Vessel Documentation Search using the Official Number:

Search USCG Documented Vessels by Vessel Name:

Can you search a boat by its name? Yes, you can search a boat by its name as long as it is documented nationally (not state titling).

Search Coast Guard Vessels by Hull Identification Number:

You can search a boat by its Hull ID Number here as long as it is documented nationally (not state titling). For state titled boat, we suggest ordering a HIN Lookup report.

Old way to lookup USCG vessels by name – NOAA vessel name search

The National Vessel Documentation Center and NOAA used to offer a web page where you can search vessels by ID or by Name. That tool is gone now but used to be at these old links:

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The National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) also has a website where you can search documented vessels. Here are the steps how to use it:

How to Run USCG Vessels Query

1. To run a USCG Vessel query first select the Vessel Identifier (Vessel Number, Vessel Name, or Hull ID) you would like to search by, then type the identifier in the textbox and click the Run Report button. Make sure to use a desktop or laptop as the site is not mobile compatible.
2. The results will appear on the right side of the page. Click on a vessel name to view the full vessel details.image

USCG Maritime Information Database

Searching a boat: The Port State Information eXchange (PSIX) system contains vessel information based on the MISLE database of boats. The information in the PSIX system is for U.S. flag vessels and foreign vessels operating in U.S. waters. It also has information on the Coast Guard coming in contact with those vessels (boarding or investigations).

The URL is:

Free USCG vessel documentation database search lookup

This free database is a bit outdated but you can probably find most vessels by using it. It is made by MarineTitle and searches over 500,000 Coast Guard records to give you basic documentation information.

The URL is:

  • Search by USCG official number.
  • Search by hull identification.
  • Search by documented vessel name.
  • Unlimited vessel record searches.

Coast Guard documented vessel Owner Search – How do I find out who owns a vessel?

Personally identifiable information (PII) is no longer available due to privacy laws. This means owner names are hard to find but not impossible if you know how.

  • Why can’t you find vessel ownership data? As of June 2017, the Coast Guard removed the personally identifiable information (PII) from the Merchant Vessels database and public file.
  • What is another way to get vessel owner info? If you order an Abstract of Title it will have the owner name and bank name.

Our secret tip to lookup vessel owner

Here is how to find out who owns a vessel: order a boat abstract of title! that’s it!

This is because the Title Abstract often includes:

  • Vessel Name changes.
  • Owner Names
  • Mortgage and Lien recordings with Bank names.
  • Encumbrances or satisfaction of claim of Lien.
  • Synopsis of all historical ownership events (bill of sale).
  • Price paid on Boat.
  • Supplements (mortgage amendments, assignments, assumptions, or subordinations).


We explain what a documented vessel is and the official number given to it by the NVDC. We also gave 4 websites where you can conduct vessel documentation search and thus look up uscg documentation on a boat. These tools search uscg hull identification numbers as well as name/number for free. All of these allow you to find a ship’s particulars.

Finally, in order to get an accurate history of a documented vessel and know the owner names and mortgages, you need a Boat Title Abstract.

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