Documented Vessel and The Ins, Outs, Dos, and Don’ts

documented vessel

Have you been considering documenting your vessel, but aren’t sure if that’s the right path for you? Do you find yourself confused at figuring out what the difference between a documented vessel” and an “undocumented” one is? These are questions that can be a bit opaque for even the most experienced vessel owner. The truth is that, while our site is focused on vessel documentation, that might not be the proper decision for every vessel owner out there. Our professionals are always more than glad to answer your questions to figure out the best choice for your needs. 

What “Documented Vessel” Means 

Think of “vessel documentation” as “national boat registration.” Instead of registering your vessel with your state, this is about registering your vessel nationally. This is not something new that just came out of nowhere. In fact, it dates back to the 11th Act of the very First Congress. It was designed to provide for commerce between the states that’s entirely unhindered, showing that you’re American when you’re using your vessel for international purposes, and for managing who can and cannot have access to certain restricted trades. 

Who Needs to Document Their Vessel (and Who Can Choose To) 

You need to document your vessel if it measures more than five net tons and you’re going to use it for commercial fishing or coastwise trade purposes in the navigable waters of America or in the Exclusive Economic Zone (popular acronym: EEZ). “Coastwise” tends to mean “transporting cargo or people.” There are exceptions to this, for certain vessels, as you might imagine. These are two of the more common endorsements for vessels that have been documented, there are many others. Again, if you have any questions, we can help. 

Why You Might Document Your Vessel When You Don’t Have To 

You might have read this far and thought: “OK, I’m certainly not using my boat to transport people, goods, or for commercial fishing. Why would I do this?” Well, for many banks and lenders, it’s the only way that they’ll offer mortgages and financing on a vessel. They just won’t give you a mortgage unless you’ve documented it. Should you want this financing yet only want to use your vessel in a recreational capacity – there’s an endorsement for that. You could get a “Recreational” endorsement. That means you can only use it for recreation, but it also means you can get that financing. 

An Easier Way to Deal with Documentation 

If you do decide to document your vessel, then you’re going to need to renew that documentation every year. You’ll have to do that yourself, of course, unless you go through our site. Here, for an added fee, we’ll actually take care of that for you. That way, you’ll have one less thing to worry about. (As you’re a vessel owner, you know there’s always something else to worry about.) If you have any questions about topics touched on in this blog or really anything else related to vessel documentation, you can reach us at (866) 981-8783.