What You Should Know About Boat Documentation

Boat Documentation

The federal law requires that all commercial vessels should get a Coast Guard documentation, according to the NVDC. The recreational boats that are more than 26 feet can either have a state registration or Coast Guard documentation. In regards to the commercial vessels, this doesn’t matter what size the boat is. This regulation means that the Coast Guard and the Homeland Security office have a listing of all commercial boats. This assists them to determine the number of vessels that are legally in the waters.

Boat DocumentationWhere to File for documentation

The vessels that need to have their documentation filed is done at the National Vessel Documentation Center. This applies to all the commercial vessels and recreational boats. The office is responsible for handling all the documentation in the United States. They have a website where the forms can be downloaded. You will be required to fill them out and submit through email.

Assistance for Filing Documentation

The forms for documentation can be confusing and most people require assistance. There are registered outside agencies that offer filing assistance, such as ours,  for Coast Guard vessel documentation. They also have their own websites where you can down download the forms and fill them out. After filling them with your details, you can submit them for evaluation. It is their responsibility to forward them to the National Vessel Documentation Center for processing. This is only done when they confirm that all the details are correct.

Boat DocumentationDocumenting a New and Previously Owned Vessel

If you have a new boat it will definitely need to be documented. Documenting a new boat is simple and the more you know about boat documentation the easier the process will be. The vessels which were owned previously, a change of ownership must be done on the document. The previous owner requires producing an up-to-date documentation. The documentation certificate needs to be renewed every year. You will automatically receive a notice about the registry. There is no fee involved in the renewal.   

Using the Approved Documents

After receiving your documentation number, the number has to be carved on the hull of the boat. There are several ways in which you can fix this number. The aim is that it should not be removed or altered. This will help those interested in the Coast Guard documentation to read it. The name and hailing port must be marked on the exterior of the hull. Whether you’re buyer or seller, it’s good to be aware on all you need to know about a boat Bill of Sale. This document is essential to transfer your ownership rights. So in order to close the deal and make sure the sale is legal, you need to get the process started for this important paper. At Vessel Documentation Online, LLC, we can assist you to make the procedure as easy and fast as possible.

You need to use the Boat Bill of Sale document in some very specific cases. One would be if you’re the owner of a boat and want to sell or transfer it to another person. Another option is when you want to buy a boat directly from an individual; without the intervention of a dealer.

Boat Documentation


The Boats that Need Documentation

According to the USCG, the owners of the boats must be citizens of the United States to be federally documented. Any boat that is more than 26 feet in length requires being documented. An official number is assigned to the boat. This number is bonded to the hull of the vessel. This is permanent and will appear in the abstract of titles. In case someone wants to get information about the boat, this number can be used as a reference.

  •  Undocumented boat

There are other boats which are not documented by the federal government. These boats have a propulsion machine and need to be numbered in the state. This is done in the state in which the boat is principally operating, such as the Department of Motor Vehicles. The states are allowed to create their own numbering systems. However, these numbering systems are supposed to meet the federal requirements. The problem is that these boats will find it difficult to sail through the international waters.

  • Why Keep Boat Documentation Updated

It is important to keep the safety of your passengers and yourself while aboard the vessel. The paperwork requires being up-to-date with the United States Coast Guard. This will enable the registry to have your complete information. This information is important in times of emergency. When the boat is lost at sea, the rescuers are able to determine the type of boat and number of people they will be searching. Even when the boat is stolen, the complete information will help those tracing the boat.

Boat Documentation

  • Boat DocumentationCoastal Guards

Documentation is done by the United States Coast Guard. It is managed by the federal government. It is administered by the Coastal Guards as part of the Homeland Security. This means that it is recognized internationally as a certificate representing ownership and nationality. The boats are, therefore, protected as that of the United States. If the boat goes into foreign countries, it is accorded the privilege as belonging to the United States.

  • Importance of Documentation

It might look like it’s overwhelming to keep boat documentation updated, but once it’s done it stays documented for the lifespan of the boat. When you sell the boat, the new owner just requires updating the information on the documents. The identification number on the boat documentation is kept the same. There is also another documentation update that is done annually. This paperwork sends automatically and is received 45 days prior to annual expiration. This annual update doesn’t attract any fee.


The Role of the Documentation Center

The Documentation Center is a department of the U.S Coast Guard and part of the larger Department of Homeland Security. This agency is responsible for registering and tracking all commercial vessels registered in the United States and any large pleasure craft that has opted for documentation. The center takes care of maintaining an accurate register of vessels, and they take care of all new registration, renewals, replacing lost certificates, and the like. The department also maintains the database of registered vessels so that owners and potential owners can get information on a ship regarding liens, mortgages and other vital information.

When you become a boat owner and decide you would like a Certificate of Documentation (COD) for your boat, going through the U.S. Vessel Documentation Center becomes a necessity for you. You will need to fill out the appropriate forms as the owner of the boat, providing personal information and information about your vessel, along with any associated fees for registration. The process can seem confusing when doing it for the first time, and you want to be careful not to make mistakes that could delay your registration.


Boat Documentation

Technical information about a Boat Bill of Sale

What is a boat Bill of Sale? According to the USCG, it is a document used to prove your right of ownership of a boat or watercraft. It’s necessary at the moment of buying or selling a boat, as the insurance company may require it to ensure your vessel. The Bill of Sale includes specific provisions that must be included at the moment of buying or selling a vessel. This document, along with the Certificate of Title, prove ownership of a boat.

A complete boat Bill of Sale contains:

  • The names, addresses, and license numbers of the seller, buyer and all parties involved.
  • A documented price for the transaction, to avoid any disagreements that may arise after the deal.
  • Vehicle identification number, make, and model. Any major after-market additions should be listed, too.
  • The signature of all involved parts.

A boat bill of sale is an important document for each party’s records. For this reason, it’s recommended to get multiple copies of the document.


For more information or help submitting your boat documentation forms please send us an email at info@nvdcrenewal.us