How to Name your Boat the RIGHT way – Rules for naming USCG Documented Vessels

Boat naming requirements form the USCG are not complicated but there are a few things you need to know when naming your boat. Read here how to properly name a documented vessel

Overview- Boat Naming Rules for Coast Guard Documented Boats

Boat Naming Rules: It can be exciting when you get a new boat. It is more fascinating when you have a better name for the vessel. Naming a boat can be challenging and at the same time stress-free. Remember, there are rules you need to keep in consideration when naming your boat. Doing it right requires some reading. We got you covered with a detailed explanation of documented vessel naming rules.

Your boat is an investment hence, it is imperative to understand the rules, tips, processes guiding documented boat naming.

In this article, we shall be looking into various areas like what makes a great boat name, rules for naming a boat by the USCG, the right boat names for the US Coast Guard boat requirements, and more.

If you like to know more about the Boat naming rules for documented boats keep on reading.

First, What is a USCG Documented vessel?

Some boats are registered at the state DMV or DNR but when a vessel meets some requirements, it should instead be documented at the Federal level with the national vessel documentation center (NVDC). These are referred to as documented vessels and have an official number such as “NO1248448” displayed on their hull as well as a vessel name and hailing port.

What Should You Not Name a Boat?

When naming a boat there are names you shouldn’t use. Keep the name classy and consider why you are choosing a specific boat name. Avoid the use of sexist, profane language, racist, and other ill words that may cause trouble and embarrassment. Avoid using bad words when naming a boat. Using such names can also get your application at the NVDC to be rejected. Remember that’s the name they will call you on the radio.

Boat Naming Rules for Documented Boats – What makes a great boat name?

As stated earlier, buying a boat is exciting, but naming it can be challenging. What makes a boat great is actually picking a name that defines the simplicity and personality you aspire to convey. Note that the vessel name does not have to be unique.

Easy Tips for Naming a Boat

Here we shall be looking at our top five tips to make a awesome boat name:

  • Choose A Concise Name – choose a simple and short name for your vessel. If the boat name is too long, it would be difficult to understand during the VHF radio broadcast. One of the things that make your boat stand out is how short, simple and sweet it is. A simple and fun name is easier to remember. The longer your boat name is the more difficult it can be during an emergency.
  • Make It Fun – Choosing a boat name is not easy but can be fun if you use your imagination. Puns and play on words like “sea” and “knot” and “her” are often very creative. You can consider inside jokes with your friends so they recognize the boat.
  • Consider Loved Ones – Try to look inward. name your boat based on what you love or someone you love. This simple rule can bring you lots of ideas. consider your kids, wife, sister, or brother. Maybe the boat was inherited from someone you would like to honor.
  • Just Be Real and Creative – This boat naming tip cannot be over-emphasized. just be original and be creative when naming your boat. You can research various boat names. There are databases out there with thousands of boat names you can search (Watch: and
  • Use A Boat Name That Reflects Your Passion or Profession – Oh yes, you can derive your vessel name from the things you have passion for or your profession. This is another way to connect and broadcast your passion and profession to the world. If you love your business, naming your boat after it, can be a form of free advertisement.

What are the rules for naming a boat by the USCG – Boat naming Rules for documented boats

Well, there are a few rules to know. The name may not be identical to, or phonetically similar to, any word or words used to solicit assistance at sea. Like “SOS” and “mayday”. The name may not contain or be phonetically identical to obscene, indecent, or profane language, or racial or ethnic epithets.

Character Requirements for Boat Names

The application for documentation with the USCG must include a name for the vessel composed of letters of the Latin alphabet or Arabic or Roman numerals.

How long can a boat name be?

In terms of length, it cannot be longer than 33 characters.

You will be glad to know that there is no requirement for block letters or any other restrictions to type, font, or color for federally documented vessels. Just make sure it can be easy to read from far.

Infographic: How to name a documented vessel right - USCG naming rules
Infographic: How to name a documented vessel right – USCG naming rules

What is the USCG Documentation Requirement?

The USCG documentation requirement is clearly stated. The necessary rules require for a vessel to keep current compliance are not difficult. NVDC (National Vessel Documentation Center) organizes and coordinates the activities and applications.

Below are some major requirements for both vessel owner and the vessel;

Ownership– Owners must be US citizens either by birth, naturalization, or derivative. For a corporation or partnership, you need detailed information regarding citizenship.

Build– Unlike a recreational vehicle without restrictions on the place of construction. You need proof of construction for Coastwise or fishery endorsements.

Operational Endorsement– This explains in detail the type of activities your vessel is permitted to undertake which is usually coastwise, fishery, recreation, and more

Mortgage– The proof of Satisfaction of Mortgage is also required for USCG boat documentation

Size– It’s usually a minimum 5 net tons size requirement. This is to measure the capak0city of your vessel, not the weight that may be confusing at times.

The above requirements are the major things you should have.

What Is the Most Common Boat Name?

Since boat names do not need to be unique. Below are some of the frequently used names based on data we have gathered from the USCG.

  • Seas the Day
  • Therapy
  • Second Wind
  • STAR
  • Serenity
  • Perseverance
  • Rum Runner
  • Knot on Call
  • Freedom
  • LADY L
  • Pura Vida
  • Many variations of “knot”

Boat Naming Rules for Documented Boats – FAQS on USCG naming requirments

Here we shall be providing answers to some boat naming frequently asked questions;

  • Can I name my boat anything? No, there are rules and etiquette that boaters adhere to. Please check above for details.
  • What should you not name a boat? Do not use profanities or racist words.
  • Can two or more boats have the same name based on USCG naming rules? Yes, It is possible to use the same name for a boat as another existing boat in the USA.
  • Can you rename a boat when you buy it? and How do you legally rename a boat?
    • Yes. if the boat is documented with the coast guard you will have to go through the transfer of documentation and on the application you can rename the vessel. We talk about ownership transfer in another article.
  • Does your boat name have to be unique? No.
  • How and when to rename your boat – Can you rename a boat when you buy it? Once you purchase a boat, you can easily change the name by contacting the National Vessel Documentation Center (NVDC) to rename it. Use the form CG- 1258, to apply for your desired name change. You also need to get approval from the mortgage company if your vessel is under a mortgage.
  • Do all boats have to be named or be given a name? Yes. If you are buying a new boat or planning to document one. You still need to get the boat a name. Without a boat name, the right paperwork like certification, boat documentation and more cannot be carried out. You also have to give the hailing port.
  • Why do boats have female names? Well, if you are a superstitious person you can name your boat female name. It is believed that ships were once dedicated to goddesses in ancient society. Nevertheless, it is not compulsory to name a boat after a female.

How do you find out all the previous vessel names of your boat?

If you order the Boat-Abstract of title, it will contain all previous names of the vessel. This is in cases where each owner summitted name changes to the USCG documentation center.

Final Note- Boat Naming Rules for Documented Boats

Before naming your boat, do consider the above information. Ensure you do your due diligence. Do not make a hasty decision in naming your boat and spell it right!. Remember, buying a boat is exciting, and making your boat stand out by giving it a good name would be more rewarding. oh, and please, don’t use a real glass Champaign bottle in the naming ceremony so you don’t ruin the fiberglass.

To lookup a boat’s name using its official number, check out our article on searching a boat.

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