Learn about Coast Guard Vessel Documentation

Read about U.S. Coast Guard Vessel Documentation

Undoubtedly, there are various boats with U. S. Coast Guard Vessel Documentation in the United States. But what is it? And how is it different from State Registration? In this blog post, we shall be listing the requirements, mortgage, ownership and the operational guidelines. today we will learn about Abstracts of Title and Coast Guard Vessel Documentation.

Vessel documentation is national form registration that serves as the identity for a vessel in its international purposes. We wanted to make sure the general public gets to know the information available in the boating industry. This also gives lenders, dealers, maritime professional and buyers the opportunity to know the necessary information regarding USCG Vessels before investing time and resources.

Boats can be registered in two ways:
1-With the local state agency (“State Titling”),
2-Or federally registered with the U.S. Coast Guard (“USCG Documentation”).

Common terms of U. S. Coast Guard Vessel Documentation

Below are some of the main common terns of USCG that you may hear:

  • United States Coast Guard (USCG)
  • Vessel Documentation Agency
  • National Vessel Documentation
  • National Vessel Documentation Center (NVDC)

Things You Should Know Before Embarking on U. S. Coast Guard Vessel Documentation

As a lender, boat dealer or maritime professional, there are things you should take note of. This prepares you against tension and makes you stand out among your competitors. You must get acquainted with the right information listed below. You will need to be in touch with the coast guard national vessel documentation center.

Vessel Documentation Requirements

The main requirement involves vessel operation. The Coast Guard documentation may be optional for vessels that are solely used for recreational purposes unless the vessel is large enough must be documented. Check the tonnage of your boat to find out.

Vessel Documentation Size Requirements

To be eligible for documentation, your vessel should measure a minimum of 5 net tons in volume. Do not mistake the size requirements with the weight of the vessel. Many vessels of 25 feet in length may weigh 5 net tons or more. You must find your vessel size and find out if it measures above five net tons.

Vessel Documentation Build Requirements

Vessels built in the United States must for coastwise or fishery endorsement must bring evidence that they are been built in the USA for vessel documentation paperwork. However, vessels built for recreational uses do not necessarily need to be built in the USA.

Vessel Documentation Operational Endorsements

Operational endorsements indicate the kind of operation that a vessel is permitted to operate. It is often noted on the certificate of documentation. It often based on the size and the citizenship requirements. Recreation, Coastwise, Fishery, and Registry are the most common operational endorsements.

Vessel Documentation Owner Requirements

All owners of a documented vessel must be United States citizens. Partnerships, corporation and other businesses can be referred to US citizens for the primary purpose of documentation and holding a title but the business or corporation must be duly registered in the U.S. and the CEO must be a U.S. citizen.

Vessel Documentation Ownership Methods

The ownership of documented vessels may be either individuals, legal entities or other bodies. Multiple positions can be categorized in percentage or other proven methods associated with the area laws. The coast guard national vessel documentation center would have an FAQ if you need more details.

Vessel Documentation Managing Owner Designation

If a documented vessel has multiple owners, then one must be designated as managing owner to receive the mail for renewals and other paperwork.

Every transaction that takes place when a vessel is actively documented gets recorded under the abstract of title. This index is maintained by the documentation center (NVDC). The abstract of title contains recordings of the history of the vessel and can include recordings of transfers of interest, claims of lien, bills of sale, ship’s mortgages and more.

Preferred Vessel Mortgages

This involves a lenders security interest in a documented vessel initiated by recording. Many mortgages can be recorded against a particular vessel but the outstanding ones take precedence. A “satisfaction of mortgage” is recorded when the loan is retired.

Vessel Lien Claims

Lien claims can be recorded against a documented vessel with active documentation only. The claim must be enforced through a court with the proper jurisdiction, however.

Vessel Documentation Numbering

All documented vessels have a special number assigned. This serves as the legal and primary identifier to recognize your vessel. The numbers are usually 6 to 7 digits. The number remains part of the vessel for its life while the vessel name could change. This official boat number is important to keep.

Boat Abstract of Title

This report offers complete details of all transactions regarding a vessel during the time it was documented. This entails basic vessel identification such as recordings, preferred mortgages, claims of lien, notations, mortgage supplements and more. To get it you need your official boat number. This is not the same thing as coast guard vessel documentation search by number. It is a full report rather than a search for single record. The signle record search might be good enough when doing a uscg documentation status check on your vessel

The time frame to obtain a boat abstract may vary depending on the busy schedule but is usually 2-8 days. You can order it online from for $50 as it is the lowest price among the other brokers.

Coast Guard Vessel Documentation Fees

Documentation Fees

The vessel documentation fees may range from $50 to $200. The fee is solely dependent on the type of endorsement you need and the type of application. You may also incur other charges for recording several instruments. Initial registration will have fees and the u.s. coast guard vessel documentation renewal will have its own fees. Check the vessel documentation portal for fees changes. Recreational vessel initial documentation is $133 for the first year.

Read the full guide here to know how to do the initial documentation.

The documents you will need are:

  • CG-1258
  • CG-1261
  • CG-5397
  • CG-1340

Coast Guard documentation Residency Requirements

This can be acquired by U.S. citizens living in abroad. The vessel location is not an issue.

Removal from Vessel Documentation

A vessel having no outstanding mortgages can be exempted from documentation based on a request from vessel owners.

Certificate of Documentation (Boat COD)

This certificate is like a “title”. It is sent to the managing owner and is valid for one year and must be renewed to maintain documentation. The Certificate of Documentation COD does not include the history of recording transactions and other documentations.

Vessel Documentation Title and Registration Rules

The reality is, most documented vessels do not become titled in other countries, state or province. The only thing that is obtainable is periodic and regular registration certificates. The primary reason why periodic registration certificates are allowed is that Coast Guard does not consider it as titles.

Coast Guard Certificate of Documentation

The validity period is one year and must be renewed yearly to retain documentation. You would be given a replacement certificate during renewal that must be carried along with the vessel at all times. All certificates of documentation are seen as proof of ownership and must be kept safe.

Vessel Documentation Marking Requirements

The official number assigned to your boat should be prefixed with “ON” and marked in large Arabic numerals at least three inches high. The name and hailing port must be visible on the hull exterior. Vessel name should also be marked on the hull.


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