Who Needs Coast Guard Documentation? (And Who Might Want It)

Who Needs Coast Guard Documentation? (And Who Might Want It)

Are you wondering if Coast Guard documentation is a requirement on your horizon? Perhaps you’ve recently acquired a vessel and are unsure about if registration is necessary for your vessel. Over the years, the National Documentation Portal has assisted countless vessel owners in similar situations, helping them navigate the complexities of vessel documentation. While documentation is essential for some vessels, others who may not strictly require it may still find compelling reasons to consider it.

Who Qualifies for Coast Guard Documentation?

If you are a United States citizen and own a vessel measuring at least five net tons, you are eligible for USCG documentation. However, there are exceptions based on the type of vessel, such as certain oil spill response vessels, and so forth. It’s important to note that the term “five net tons” refers to a measurement of volume, not weight. You can either have your vessel’s net tonnage calculated or simply measure its length. In most cases, vessels over 25 feet in length will invariably meet the five net tons requirement.

Who Must Obtain USCG Documentation?

You must secure USCG documentation if you meet the aforementioned criteria and intend to use your vessel for fishing activities, transporting people and/or goods on the navigable waters of the United States, or within the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). While there are exceptions, such as towboats and dredges, they are relatively uncommon. Different types of vessels require various endorsements, such as “Fishery” for commercial fishing operations and “Coastwise” for transporting people and/or merchandise on those same waters. 

Why Consider USCG Documentation Even if It’s Not Mandatory?

The most prevalent endorsement is the “Recreational” one, designed for those who plan to enjoy leisurely trips with friends and family on the water. Many individuals in this category choose to document their vessels even when not required, primarily to take advantage of tax incentives available in specific states. Additionally, having your vessel documented allows you to obtain a “First Preferred Ship’s Mortgage,” simplifying the financing process.

If I Do Get My Vessel Documented, Does That Documentation Need Renewed? 

Yes, yes it does. In fact, you have to renew it every single year. One year from the date of issuance, your documentation must be renewed. You can renew it earlier, but you want to be careful not to renew it too early as that could lead to a new date of issuance (and thus some wasted time as well as money). We encourage you to renew through our site. In fact, you can do so for up to five years in advance.

Who Needs Coast Guard Documentation? (And Who Might Want It)

What Documentation Services Does the National Documentation Portal Provide?

At the National Documentation Portal, we offer a comprehensive range of vessel documentation services to meet your needs. You can initiate the documentation process, renew existing documentation, and extend it for up to five years through our user-friendly platform. We also facilitate the application for a Preferred Ship’s Mortgage and provide access to lesser-known documents like the MARAD Waiver. For a complete list of our services, visit our website today.