Who Does and Does Not Need Maritime Documentation: A Definitive Guide

Maritime Documentation

Have you done some research, and found that you’re still a little unsure about whether or not vessel documentation is the right decision for you? Does it seem like it could be beneficial, yet you don’t really know if it’s right to “take the plunge,” so to speak? That’s 100% understandable. There are so many vessel owners we’ve talked to who have been in your exact position. Plenty of vessel owners don’t qualify for vessel documentation, some need to get it, and still, others get it even though they don’t have to. We can help you to figure out if maritime documentation is right for you. 

Who Qualifies for Maritime Documentation 

It’s entirely possible that the concept of vessel documentation may feel new to you, but it has been around for a long time. Vessel documentation dates all the way back to the 11th act of the very First Congress of the United States. To qualify for vessel documentation, a vessel must be wholly owned by a United States Citizen and measure at least five net tons. You’ll note that didn’t say “weigh five net tons,” it said “measure.” This is due to “net tons” not being a measurement of weight but rather of volume. Also, you might ask: “Are there exceptions?” Yes. certain oil spill response vessels. Our staff can answer any questions you might have. 

Those Who Must Get Documented 

Now, within that, there are certain vessels that absolutely have to be documented. Should a vessel meet the requirements laid out in the last paragraph and also be used in fishing activities or coastwise trade on the navigable waters of the United States or in the “Exclusive Economic Zone,” then they have to be documented. For clarification: “coastwise trade” tends to mean “transporting merchandise or passengers” while “Exclusive Economic Zone” generally means “the waters 200 miles or so off of America’s coasts.” If that’s how you’re going to use your vessel, then you must get your vessel documented. 

Why Do Some People Get Their Vessels Documented if They Don’t Have to? 

Simply put, for vessel financing. Many financial institutions require vessels that are eligible for documentation to be documented. Documented vessels qualify for what’s called a “preferred ship’s mortgage.” This is given the same status as a maritime lien. That may not sound like the biggest deal, but it absolutely is, particularly as it enjoys a certain priority in the event of a default. If you want to get financing and your vessel can be documented, getting your vessel documented can really help. 

More Than Just Documentation 

While our site is called “Vessel Documentation Online,” we offer so much more than just the initial documentation. For one, you can renew through our site, too. Additionally, you can renew for up to five years in advance. We see it as one more way to make the entire documentation process easier for our customers. To see all that we can do, head to our site or call (866) 981-8783.