What is Vessel Documentation?

What is Vessel Documentation?

Vessel documentation is a national, federal form of registration. One of the oldest functions of American Government, as it dates back to the First Congress.

Documenting a vessel facilitates commerce between the states, establishes conclusive evidence of nationality for international purposes, and allows entry for vessels to restricted trades, like fisheries, and coastwise trade.

Vessel financing has been enhanced through the availability of preferred mortgages on documented vessels since 1920.

According to the National Archives, “the importance of maritime matters to the new republic is shown by the attention given to them by the First Congress. Its third act on July 20, 1789, imposed a duty on the tonnage of vessels. An act of September 1, 1789, provided for the registering and clearing of vessels and regulation of coastwise trade. Under this law, only American-built vessels were permitted to be registered, which had the effect of encouraging the nascent U.S. shipbuilding industry by reducing foreign competition.”

Vessel documents may differ in some aspects, but for the most part, they will contain a vessel’s certificate number, its name, home port, when and where it was constructed, and the owners’ names and addresses as well as each owner’s fraction of ownership.

Other information includes the master’s name on the date the certificate was issued, how many decks and masts the vessel has, its tonnage, dimension, rig type, figurehead, and other information.