Under U.S. law all waterborne craft must be registered, and this comes under the remit of the Coast Guard portal. It is basically a matter of filing out the correct forms. If you are a first time owner with a new boat it is a fairly simple affair because just about all the details requested are on the documentation you receive when you buy the vessel. What you need to add are personal details that are a matter of public record. Details that are basic to most applications when obtaining an official license or any other type of documentation.
The trick is to understand what the forms require. Most official and government forms are loaded with legal jargon that, although easily comprehensible to those who deal with them every day, most of us can find bewildering and confusing. Registering, licensing or gaining certification of marine vessels is no exception. Filling out the forms for small pleasure boats with one designated owner is probably the easiest, but not if you make a mistake on the form. A misspelled word or wrong number can delay or stop your application in its tracks. It is the same with the wrong or missing documentation. The proud new boater, eager to get his or her craft on the water and enjoy it, may find their pleasure delayed because of one simple mistake. There is usually provision for wrong documentation, giving you time to send the correct paperwork, but one simple typo can stop your application dead. Then it is back to square one. To avoid any of these problems it is better to put your applications in the hands of experts, instead of trying to handle it yourself. Especially when trying to wade through the red tape that is the coast guard renewal documentation.
Renewal of Documentation
Supposedly, renewal of vessel documentation is a piece of cake, as you have all the required information at your fingertips. They are all there in the initial certificate that you have obtained. That is all very well if nothing has changed as you just repeat all the information that you previously gave. Unfortunately, change in your circumstances or to your craft may result in even more paperwork, online or by mail, it is still a headache. One thing we have all forgotten at one time or another, is to renew a license, card, or membership. Driving on the roads with an expired license can leave you open to prosecution and it is exactly the same with vessel licenses or certification.
Officially, you do have a thirty day breathing space to renew your applications after your certification has expired, but after that you need to apply for reinstatement, which will add more delay, meanwhile you can’t legally operate your boat. Documentation on your boat lasts for one year and has to be renewed annually. Do you want to go through the headache of the coast guard renewal documentation process every year? A preventative measure is to contact the documentation experts and have them process your applications in a timely manner. To avoid the whole business you can ask them to automatically renew your documentation every year. By paying a prepaid fee they can renew your documentation annually for up to five years, it’s your choice.
The Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2018 Sec. 512 now states that the National Vessel Documentation Center can extend vessel documentation for up to a period of five years, starting from the 1 of January 2019 to 1 January 2022, with a possible longer extension to the provision in the future. The amendment only covers pleasure craft. Commercial vessels will still have to follow the regular schedule.
Apart from taking the headache out of coast guard renewal documentation, vessel registration companies also offer services such as:
– transfer or exchange of ownership. Transfer or exchange can include the addition of others on the documentation, for example a spouse or partner.
– Also, there is the opposite – the removal of names from the documentation, because of death or divorce or other unforeseen circumstances.
– Selling the vessel, whether as an individual or a company if there is a mortgage attached, especially if changes to the documentation require the permission of whoever lends the mortgage.
– As stated above, reinstatement after your registration has expired.
– Obtaining a copy of the current certification, called abstract of title, if it is necessary for any reason.
– Replacement of documents that have been destroyed, lost or have been badly damaged.
Working with a non-government agency also gives you other benefits:
– It is usually easier to contact a third party organization when help is required
– All pertinent information is usually in one place in a website that is easy to navigate, as well as providing links should you need to go offsite.
– These companies usually provide useful and fun information beyond the necessary documentation stuff.