The United States Coast Guard requires all vessel owners to update their document numbers annually. Don’t panic if you have no idea when your document number will expire or how to renew it; we’re here to assist. All U.S. vessel owners must renew their IMO numbers annually. This may seem like a minor rule, but keeping your number current is essential since it’s the only way local, state, and federal officials can identify your boat. Don’t panic if you have no idea when your number will expire or what to do to renew it; we’re here to assist. In this piece, we’ll go through the specifics of renewing your document number and provide some advice to make the process as smooth as possible.
Every Five Years, You Must Renew Your Certificate of Documentation
A boat must be registered with the state before being sold or used. A COD number is a unique identifier for a vessel’s documentation. You may use the Certificate of Documentation (COD) as proof of ownership if you decide to sell or give away your yacht. The COD consists of a number and an expiration date; the number remains constant during the duration of the COD, but the date is updated every five years.
Each state’s Department of Natural Resources (or an agency with equal authority) is responsible for renewing CODs every five years. A vessel’s registration and safety inspection deadlines are tied to its expiration date. After receiving your first COD, you must have your boat inspected every five years by a certified surveyor before you can renew your registration. This requirement also applies when you transfer ownership. You could avoid fines and even having your boat impounded if you get this done within five years.
Within 120 Days of Any Change in Ownership
When your document number expires, you must renew it just like any other official document. It is only sometimes necessary to wait until the expiration date on your document number has passed before renewing it. This is particularly true if the property’s ownership has just changed. Within 120 days after the date of death, a new title must be issued for any real estate in which the previous owner has died, quitclaimed, or transferred interest.
It’s the same if a previous owner went out and a new co-owner came in or if there was a foreclosure and all debts were removed. This regulation aims to ensure buyers’ safety by holding sellers more liable for their activities during the real estate transaction. It will seem as if nothing has changed when you renew your license since the new card will have the same number as the old one. If you’ve moved from the address on your card, you’ll need to bring in additional identification.
If the Vessel is Sold or Transferred to Another Person or Entity within the United States
That yacht owners must stay on top of their documentation. When applying for a new Certificate of Documentation, the U.S. Coast Guard requires applicants to disclose any boat sales or transfers. A document number granted to one party may become invalid if the vessel’s ownership changes (unless the new owner applies for their document number).
A new certificate is required if the sale or transfer takes place inside the United States, and the vessel must report to the nearest USCG district office within 30 days. The new owner is responsible for registering the yacht with the appropriate state authorities. Even if you’re selling your yacht to someone outside the country, you’ll still need to file the appropriate paperwork with the U.S. government.
Renew Your Document Number If You Move the Vessel to a New State
The regulations for how often and what must be done to maintain a vessel’s registration vary from state to state. Some governments mandate inspections yearly, while others insist on a minimum interval of two years. Should somebody later raise doubts about whether your yacht has undergone the mandatory inspection, you’ll be glad you kept records. There’s also the fact that every state has its registration system.
It may be more difficult for law authorities to locate and apprehend you if they see you engaging in criminal activity on the water if you transfer the vessel over state lines and it is not correctly recorded by the state to which you are moving it. Finally, many states have reciprocity agreements; if you transfer from one state to another that does not, your vessel may only be recognized as having been registered by the other state if you renew your registration before relocating there.
If you’re a U.S. citizen and own or operate a commercial vessel, you know the importance of keeping your documentation up to date. But it’s easy to forget about it—especially if you’re not currently using your vessel. The Maritime Documentation Center is here to help, offering contact information for those who need answers about when to renew their documents and what that entails. Call them today at (800)-535-8570 for more information.