American Vessel Documentation: Who Needs It, Who Doesn’t, and Who Might

American Vessel Documentation

Have you heard about American vessel documentation, but aren’t sure if you need it or not? Does the idea of documenting your vessel sound appealing, yet you don’t know if it’s right for you? Vessel documentation may seem new, but it’s actually been around since the very first Congress. The truth is that documenting a vessel won’t be the right course of action for every vessel owner. Some have to get their vessels documented, some won’t need to, and some may choose to do so if they want. 


Who Qualifies for American Vessel Documentation 


A vessel that’s wholly owned by a United States citizen and measures at least five net tons is eligible for vessel documentation. Now, you’ll note we said “wholly owned” by a US citizen. Also, it’s important to keep in mind that “net tons” does not measure weight. Rather, it’s a measure of volume. You can get your vessel’s volume measured. Or, alternatively, you can follow a good rule of thumb: if your vessel is longer than 25 feet, it almost certainly measures at least five net tons (if not much more). If your vessel meets those qualifications, it can be documented. 


Who Has to Get their Vessels Documented 


Some vessel owners don’t have a choice as to whether or not to document their vessels. For example, a vessel that meets the requirements listed in the last paragraph and is going to be used for fishing activities or transporting people/cargo on the navigable waters of the United States or the EEZ (Exclusive Economic Zone) has to be documented. For clarity, the “Exclusive Economic Zone” is the water that’s around two hundred miles or so off of the United States’ coast, more or less. 


Who Might Want to Get Their Vessels Documented


Even if you never plan on transporting people, cargo, or doing any fishing activities, you may still want to get your vessel documented. The reasoning: financing. To get a mortgage on your vessel, a strong majority of banks and lenders will only do so if your vessel is documented. Additionally, many get their vessels documented if they’re going to be using them for overseas trade. In that case, they tend to get an endorsement for their vessel called “Registry.” 


American Vessel Documentation


Should You Choose to Document Your Vessel


If, after reading all of that, you decide to get your vessel documented, then you came to the right place. Here, we make it easy to get your vessel documented and then to renew that documentation, too. If you decide to get financing, we have the forms that can help, such as a “Preferred Ship’s Mortgage” and much more. However, if you’ve read to this point and still aren’t sure if documentation is right for you and your vessel, we can help there, too. Our trained, experienced staff is more than happy to answer all of your questions or even walk you through forms.  You can give them a call at (866) 981-8783.