Boat-Abstracts COD

What is a US Coast Guard Certificate of Documentation (COD)?

What is a USCG Certificate of Documentation (COD)? The COD establishes the ownership and nationality of a vessel for recreational vessels over 5 net tons. The COD can be renewed for 5 years and a lost Certificate of Documentation (COD) can be replaced with form CG-1258. The COD is also known as CG-1270.

This is how the USCG Certificate of Documentation (COD) looks like
This is how the USCG Certificate of Documentation (COD) looks like

US Coast Guard Certificate of Documentation (COD)

The above image is the sample of COD for those who do not know what the Certificate of Documentation for boats looks like in the USA. All through our various posts, we have stressed the importance of vessel documentation.

Nevertheless, we shall go deep into several aspects of US Coast Vessel Documentation like what is Certificate of Documentation, the forms, the responsibility of NVDC, and what to do if you have lost your certificate of Documentation.

What is a Certificate of Documentation for a vessel from the USCG?

First, what is a Certificate of Documentation (COD)? The certificate of documentation of a vessel with the United States Coast Guard establishes the ownership and nationality of a vessel. In other words, it is a national form of vessel registration. You must understand that Documented vessels do not have titles, instead, they maintain a COD that has 1 to 5 years renewal cycle. The importance of documenting your boat with the USCG cannot be over-emphasized for those boats the meet the requirements. Once the Boat is documented, the national vessel documentation center will issue a COD to you. the COD also validates that the vessel meets operational and build competence (safety and construction criteria).

You must keep it on board your vessel at all times. The holder is eligible for reduced fees or tolls at government-subsidized facilities. It must be updated if you change your Vessel’s info such as Name, Ownership, Tonnage.

UPDATE: Breaking News: On July 2022 NVDC will no longer require the Original Build Certificate be sent by courier

What is a documented vessel

The USCG vessel documentation implies the process of recording or registering your boat with the United States Coast Guard (USCG). In other words, your boat is being titled on a national level. This is opposite to state level titling or registration at the local DMV or DNR.

This national form of registration gives a boat its nationality and an official number that will be on the Certificate of Documentation (COD) paper. There are requirements for ships to be documented and there are benefits to USCG documentation of a vessel.

National vessel documentation center

Are you wondering about the roles and responsibilities of the National Vessel Documentation Center? The NVDC is tasked by the Coast Guard to be the office that takes care of maintaining all records of documented boats under the United States Coast Guard. The USCG is part of the military.

In simple terms, the National vessel documentation center is the government agency that issues the COD. They also track the history of the boat so that you can order a boat title abstract. The NVDC ensures all vessels either commercial or recreational vessels are duly registered in other to navigate the United States waterways.

What is a CG 1270? [Form CG-1270]

The CG 1270 is another name for the COD paper. In other words, CG-1270 is the code for the USCG Certificate of Documentation. Many of the forms at the NVDC have such numbering. It implies that a given vessel has been documented by the United States Coast Guard, shows the official number and owner info.

Requirement to have Certificate of Documentation on board

The person in command of a documented vessel must have on board that vessel the original Certificate of Documentation. There are fines and you could get in trouble of the coast guard boards your ship and does not see the proper vessel marking or the COD.

Replacement of Certificate of Documentation (COD) – What happens if I lost my COD documents?

As we know, the certificate of documentation is very vital to boat owners. What do you do when yours is missing or got stolen? Don’t panic, you can get a replacement for a lost COD document.

Once you notice your Certificate of Documentation is missing, just apply for a replacement using the form CG-1258. There is a $50 fee to get a replacement and the form can also be used to update the address of the managing owner. Replacement Certificates of Documentation will be re-issued using the original expiration date, and current date of issue.

The fee can be paid by checks or CG-7042 Authorization for Credit Card Transactions. The documents may be mailed to the NVDC or sent via email to: Download the form here or here. This is different from the renewal form CG-1280.

lost vessel COD replacement form
lost vessel COD replacement form

How to make your USCG certificate of documentation valid for five years

Many vessel owners, get worried over the expiration of their certificate of documentation each year. It is now possible to have a 5 years renewal cycle.

As a boat owner, you can easily apply for a multi-year (5 Five) Certificate of Documentation but only if it is a recreational vessel and not on the initial documentation in the first year.

How and When to Renew your coast guard Certificate of Documentation

Undoubtedly, there are several reasons why you must keep your coast guard certificate of documentation renewed. You need COD to navigate international waterways, COD gives you financing since most lender sees a Certificate of Documentation as a Requirement for Preferred Mortgage, it guarantees ownership. Make sure to start the process 70 days before the expiry to give yourself enough time for processing. You will need renewal form CG-1280. You don’t want to send it after the expiry date as that will require a new form to reinstate the vessel. Remember that the coast guard will send you a notice of renewal.

Fees for the 5-year Certificate of Documentation Renewal

The cost and fees are fixed for five year renewals of documentation at $130. There are additional fees for exchanges and initial documentation. Please, use this link to find out the latest fees at the NVDC.

Temporary Certificates of Documentation (TCOD)

In rare occasions when the NVDC has a 4 month backlog on their applications, they might issue a letter Temporary Certificates of Documentation (TCOD) for recreational vessels while they process the backlog.

What happens if I don’t receive my COD?

Requesting a Duplicate Certificate of Documentation (COD) Due to Non-Receipt.

Customers have 90 days to notify NVDC of non-receipt of a COD. To allow for a reasonable time for delivery, do not consider a document lost and request a replacement until at least four weeks after issuance.

How can I lookup the COD issue date?

Use the PSIX search website to lookup your boat using the official number.

What do I need to do if my COD was lost in the mail?

Requests for duplicate CODs due to non-receipt must be accompanied by a signed statement from the owner with the proclamation: “No COD was received; address used at time of application has been verified and is still valid.” If an agent is involved, the statement must be signed by BOTH the agent and the owner and the agent CANNOT sign on behalf of the owner. Requests that do not include a signed statement from the owner will be deleted and will not receive a response.

Notifications received after the 90 day period will require customers to apply for a replacement via CG-1258 APPLICATION FOR INITIAL, EXCHANGE OR REPLACEMENT OF CERTIFICATE OF DOCUMENTATION; REDOCUMENTATION, and include a $50.00 application fee.

What happens if I have missed the deadline to renew my vessel COD documentation?

Once you miss the deadline of your USCG Vessel Certificate of Documentation renewal, you have 30 days to send in the form for renewal. After that period, if you fail to submit the renewal application or it arrives 31 days after expiration, you will pay a late fee of $5 in addition to other applicable fees to reinstate the vessel’s documentation status. In other words, there is a reinstatement fee for failure to submit a renewal application after the 30 days of renewal grace period.

Deletion of a COD – How do you remove my vessel from the USCG Database?

The deletion of the Certificate of Documentation can only occur if a vessel owner or authorized agent requests a deletion. All you need to do is to fill out the form. Once you input the owner’s name and other necessary information, your application will be processed and your COD will be removed from the USCG database.

How do I transfer ownership of a vessel COD?

If you like to know how you can transfer the ownership of a vessel Certificate of Documentation to a new owner, please read our article on How to Transfer the Boat Ownership of a USCG Documented Vessel.

How do I find my USCG vessel documentation? – Search for a documented vessel

We have a free vessel documentation search tool that you can use any time lookup the vessel name or number.


We have explained what the Certificate of Documentation (COD) is and how to renew it in a timely fashion. Some people use brokers to renew and others do it themselves.

To get a chain of ownership and details about liens on a vessel’s history, make sure to order a Boat Abstract of title.