You Asked NVDC Questions And We Answered


Do you have questions about vessel documentation and how it works? Has your internet research not turned up much in the way of answers? We designed the National Documentation Portal to be a hub of not just NVDC forms, but solutions as well.

Our platform isn’t just a place for individuals to locate and complete their boat documentation; it’s also a comprehensive resource.  Below, you’ll find answers to some Of The Questions We Are Most Commonly Asked.

What Is Coast Guard Documentation? 

When we refer to “documentation,” we’re essentially talking about registering your vessel with the Coast Guard. This practice isn’t new; it’s one of the oldest governmental procedures in the United States. A USCG Certificate of Documentation establishes both the vessel’s nationality and its owner. 

Understanding Vessel Documentation: Who is Eligible?

If your vessel measures more than five net tons and is owned by an American citizen, then you can document it with the Coast Guard. “Net tons” of course, measures volume and not weight. 

A simple rule of thumb: if your vessel exceeds 25 feet in length, it almost certainly measures five net tons or more.

Who Requires Vessel Documentation?

Some individuals are obligated to document their vessels. This includes those intending to utilize their vessel on the navigable waters of the United States or within the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) for fishing activities or “coastwise” endeavors, often defined as transporting people and/or cargo on these waters. 

If your vessel falls under these criteria (and measures five net tons or more), documentation is mandatory.

Why Opt for Boat Documentation If You Don’t Need It? 

Despite not intending to use the vessel for fishing activities or coastwise ventures, there are still numerous advantages to documenting your vessel. 

For example, many opt for documentation to facilitate obtaining the right financing, as only documented vessels qualify for Preferred Ship’s Mortgages. Additionally, you may simply prefer displaying your name and hailing port instead of state registration numbers.

Do I Have To Renew My Documentation? 


Annual renewal is a must for USCG documentation. This concerns all vessels with a size of over five net tons documented with the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG). Vessel owners must fill out a renewal application and pay the necessary fee for another year of USCG documentation. The breach of documentation validity is taken quite seriously by the USCG, leading to penalties for non-compliant owners. The penalties could range from fines to vessel detentions and depending on the situation, could be even more severe. 


How Frequently Should I Update My Vessel Documentation?

You’re required to renew your USCG documentation yearly. This is applicable to all vessels above five net tons documented under the USCG. Owners are required to fill out a renewal form and make a payment to extend their USCG documentation for the subsequent year.

Neglecting to renew will lead to the expiration of the ship’s documentation and a withdrawal of linked privileges. Maintaining adherence to these yearly renewal obligations is essential for owners to maintain the benefits linked to USCG documentation. Furthermore, our site offers owners the option to renew their documentation up to five years in advance.

Our site also provides “Rush Processing/Priority Request” to put owners’ requests on top of our list, speeding up the documentation process.

What Are Endorsements? 

In Coast Guard documentation, an endorsement is basically a statement for how you’re going to use the vessel. It’s a kind of trade indicator, so to speak. “Fishery” and “Coastwise” are what they sound like: fishing or transporting people/merchandise. 

“Registry” is for foreign trade. While all vessels can be used for recreation, vessels with a “Recreational” endorsement can only be used recreationally. 

If you want to change your endorsement, you can do that through our site as well. All you have to do is to complete the “Change of Endorsement/Trade Indicator” form at our site. 

What Should I Look For in an NVDC Site? 

Forms. All of the forms you need. Security. Convenience. You want a site that makes it easy to complete all of the forms that you might need swiftly and securely. You’ll find all of that and more at our portal. 

We’ve taken every measure to ensure that our platform is the optimal destination for locating and completing vessel documentation. Indeed, the forms mentioned above are just some of what we offer. Here, you’ll find virtually everything you require. 

Complete Vessel Documentation Solutions with NVDC Forms

If you’re dealing with NVDC documentation like starting, renewing, or reinstating, applying for a Preferred Ship’s Mortgage, or requesting a MARAD Ship Waiver, our platform has it covered. From NVDC forms to vessel documentation needs, you’ll likely find what you’re looking for on our site.

To explore the full spectrum of what we offer, click here.