Vessel documentation is a national form of registration. It is one of the oldest functions of Government, dating back to the 11th Act of the First Congress.
Documentation provides conclusive evidence of nationality for international purpose, provides for unhindered commerce between the states, and admits vessels to certain restricted trades, such as coastwide trade and fisheries. Since 1920, vessel financing has been enhanced through the availability of preferred mortgages on documented vessels.
US Coast Guard documentation of a vessel is considered the preferred method of recording ownership of your boat with the government. As a national form of registration, you receive benefits that would not otherwise be available under state registration and is generally considered a more prestigious form of registry.
Benefits of Coast Guard Documentation
Cruising Foreign Waters
Customs officials universally recognize a US Coast Guard Certificate of Documentation as proof of ownership and authentication of the boat’s origin. If you travel to foreign waters, your Certificate of Documentation immediately provides you with the protection and the status that comes from the US Government. This also facilitates a smooth entry and clearance at foreign ports.
The US Coast Guard holds strict requirements to ensure each documented vessel with have a clear and irrefutable history of ownership. A record of all transactions, including bills of sale, mortgages, and satisfactions, are kept by the National Vessel Documentation Center as the “chain of title.” Establishing this chain of title enables owners of documented vessels to expedite transfers of ownership and refinancing. Documentation of a vessel also becomes helpful when tracking stolen vessels across state lines with the federally documented record of ownership.
Marking the Vessel
Each boat documented with the US Coast Guard is given an “official number” which remains the same throughout the life of the boat. The owner is required to place the number on the interior structure of the hull. For vanity’s sake, marking the interior of the hull provides a more desirable appearance. For practically purposes, it is simple.