Regardless of the state in which you mostly will use your boat, and the size and purpose you will give to your vessel, you should keep in mind that some type of governmental authority, whether federal or at a state level, will keep an eye on your vessel by conducting regular inspections. Other than those, you will need to decide if you want a United States Coast Guard (USCG)-documented vessel, if you want to register it in the state where you live, and, in some cases, even both of the options. For that reason, we wrote this article, which will shed some light on the subject to help you determine what to choose.
Let us begin by telling you when you will need a USCG-documented vessel mandatorily. First of all, the US Coast Guard is a branch of the Armed Forces, which regulates maritime activity at a federal level. If your vessel exceeds five net tons there will be two choices. If you use your boat for recreational purposes, you may decide whether or not you want to register your vessel with them. On the other hand, if the primary use you give to your boat is commercial, regardless of the type of activity, you will have to get USCG documentation.
Why would someone want to register their boats with the federal agency if they didn’t have to? That question has three possible explanations:
For aesthetic reasons. A federal registration allows you to display your vessel name and hailing port to be identified rather than the state registration numbers.
For mortgages. USCG-documented boats have access to preferred ship mortgages.
For traveling abroad. It is easier for American vessels to enter and leave foreign ports with this type of registration, as it also works as proof of ownership of your vessel and it is recognized internationally.
State Registered Boats
On the other hand, the state authority on which you might need to register your vessel locally is often the same in which you register your car, and it varies from state to state. Some common choices are the DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles), the MVA (Motor Vehicle Administration), or the DNR (Department of Natural Resources). Recreational boat owners are required in the United States to register their vessels with the appropriate state authorities. Given that each state is different, the fees you need to pay and the paperwork you will be required to be registered will vary. Here’s a list of the different requirements from each state.
USCG-Documented Vessels Made Simple
We know that all this bit of information can be a bit overwhelming. Luckily for you, you don’t have to do all of this by yourself. The Maritime Documentation Center is a private service that helps you process documented vessels. On our website, you can find a list of all of the different boating paperwork you can get from us. Apart from giving you advice and overlooking your documentation, our experienced staff will allow you to access your documents completely online, as they will deal with the USCG on your behalf. Contact us today for any other questions you have!