The Importance of Vessel Documentation Search: How to Verify Ownership and Avoid Scams

Vessel Documentation Search

Are you planning to buy a used boat or simply wish to verify the ownership of your own vessel? Conducting a vessel documentation search is a vital step. The US Coast Guard (USCG) maintains a National Vessel Documentation Center (NVDC) that houses records of all documented vessels. But why do you need to conduct a documentation search for a vessel? How to ensure a smooth and legal transaction? 

What are the Reasons to Perform a Vessel Documentation Search

Searching for vessel documentation is vital for several reasons. First, it provides legal proof of ownership of a vessel. If you want to purchase a used boat, you must verify that the seller is the rightful owner of the boat and has the legal authority to sell it. The vessel documentation can also reveal outstanding liens or encumbrances on the vessel, ensuring that there are no surprises after the sale is completed. 

What Do You Need to Perform the Search? 

To perform a documentation search for a certain vessel, you will need to have the boat’s official number or name. The number is a unique identifier assigned by the USCG when the boat is first documented. If you do not have this vital information, you can still search for the vessel’s name. However, it is more difficult if the boat has changed names or if there are multiple vessels with the same name. 

When you have the official number or name, please visit our vessel documentation search page to search our database. The database provides information about the vessel, including the name, official number, owner, and documentation status. If the vessel is currently documented, the search will also reveal the vessel’s expiration date, thereby, letting you verify that, indeed, the documentation is up to date. 

However, it is important to note that some vessels are not included in the database. Even though our database is comprehensive, it may not include vessels that are not documented or have been recently sold. Some unscrupulous sellers may also try to falsify documentation or misrepresent ownership. Thus, it is vital to conduct additional research and due diligence before completing a purchase. 

Use a Documentation Service Provider

This is an additional step that you can take to assist you with the documentation search. It ensures that all necessary documentation is in order. National Documentation Portal is one of the popular services that can help in verifying ownership, ensuring that all liens and encumbrances are accounted for, and providing guidance and support throughout the purchasing process.

vessel documentation search

Before Purchasing a Boat 

Purchasing a vessel is a huge investment. However, it offers tons of benefits as it makes it easier for you to travel internationally. But before you get too excited to buy a boat and travel, make sure that the ship you wish to purchase has the correct papers. In that way, you will not get into issues when reaching foreign seas. To start your vessel documentation search, please click here.