Saturday, May 25, 2024

How Do I Register My Boat With The Coast Guard

Q: What If My Registration Has Expired

How to Document Your Boat with the United States Coast Guard

A: You can renew online at, by mail or visit one of our registration offices.

When registering in person, bring a copy of your old registration . ;You will be required to complete an application. ;Please bring with you a check or money order payable to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Please include on your check the applicable registration number for our reference. Your registration will be brought up to date to reflect a two year boat, snowmobile or Off-Highway Vehicle registration. OHV/Snowmobile registrations for non-residents will reflect a one year registration. ;Please note: ;If your registration has been expired for 48 months or longer, you will not be able to renew it online. Please visit one of our registration offices to process your renewal.

Overview Of All Uscg Documentation Standards And Requirements For Boats

The requirements for USCG documentation clearly outline what is necessary to keep a vessel current and in compliance. The National Vessel Documentation Center coordinates these applications and activities. These are the major requirements with respect to the vessel and owner:

  • Size: At least 5 tons in volume .
  • Build: Recreational vehicles have no restrictions on the place of construction. Coastwise or fishery endorsements require proof of construction in the U.S.
  • Ownership: All owners must be a U.S. citizen . This includes citizens of U.S. territories. In cases where a corporation, partnership, or entity owns the vessel for documentation purposes there are unique citizenship requirements that should be consulted in detail.
  • Mortgage: There are requirements for documentation of a preferred vessel mortgage .
  • Residency: Documentation can be acquired by U.S. citizens abroad as long as other requirements are met in full. The vessel can also be located offshore.
  • Operational Endorsements: These endorsements describe the types of activities the vessel is permitted to undertake and are typically assigned as: recreation, coastwise, fishery, and registry .

These are the important requirements with respect to the documentation itself. It is the responsibility of the vessel owner to ensure that the proper paperwork is kept up to date and maintained on the boat at all times.

Outboard Motor On Your Documented Vessel

If the documented vessel is propelled by outboard motor, the outboard motor is required to be titled, if the state of principle use is South Carolina, and it is five horsepower or greater.

Any vessel that is documented by the United States Coast Guard can be operated on the waters of this state with no additional S.C. registration issued by South Carolina Department of Natural Resources.

Documented Vessels are exempt from registration in South Carolina.

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Going Through The Coast Guard Registration Process

If you have recently purchased a large boat, either for recreational purposes or commercial purposes, there are steps you need to take before you can legally put the boat in the water and traverse the seas. You need to make sure your boat is registered properly, either with the state that you live in or with the United States Coast Guard. Recreational vessels of a certain size have the option of documenting their vessel with the Coast Guard or not, but commercial vessels do not get a choice. If you need to go through the Coast Guard registration process, you need to have the proper information ready and know where to file your paperwork.

Requirements For Registration And Titling Of Boats


Special Notice to;Boat Owners

Renewing Boat Registrations

See instructions here for;renewing a boat registration.

Prior to registering your boat, please read;DMV’s;notice to all vessel owners.;Read the;notice here.

Replace a Registration

See instructions here for replacing a boat registration.

New Boat Registrations

Federal law requires a hull number on all vessels manufactured in 1973 or later. The hull number must be given on the application. If the vessel has a “CT” number , that number stays with the vessel and must be entered on the application.

If a vessel has a US documented number or a Foreign Documented number then that vessel is not eligible to obtain a CT Title. You will receive a CT vessel registration using your documented numbers.

Vessels eligible for titles are vessels with a model year of 2017 and newer, or vessels that were previously documented either US or Foreign.; Documentation from the Coast Guard is required to show that the Vessel was and is no longer documented.

A.;Application for Vessel Registration and Certificate of Number or Decal

B.MCO/Out of state title/or previously documented paperwork from the U.S Coast Guard or Foreign Entity.

C. If the state that the vessel;is currently registered in, and your vessel is 2017 model year or newer, you must have the following:

D.;Bill of Sale/ Q1V ;:

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Benefits Of Documenting A Boat

The main benefit of documenting a boat with the USCG NVDC is for boats that travel into international waters. A federally documented boat that enters foreign waters, carries some protections as being under the United States Flag.

This document by the federal government also aids in gaining clearance into that country also.

All commercial vessels of 5 net tons or more must be documented and carry specific extensions to there use. This grants them use for things like fishing, dredging, etc. Also, a federally documented vessel does does not carry a state title.

Insuring a documented vessel generally provides for better insurance rates. Check with your insurance agent.

You may have the availability of preferred mortgages on documented vessels. If your boat is financed and U.S. Coast Guard documented, a Preferred Ships Mortgage will be recorded and filed with the U.S. Coast Guard.

Not only is it easier to get a loan on a documented boat, but The bank is recording a First Preferred Ships Mortgage. This allows for the tracking of liens, mortgages, satisfaction of liens. When youve paid off the mortgage on your boat. The lender will; supply the National Vessel Documentation Center a document showing a Satisfaction of Mortgage.

This assures any potential boat owner, that they are purchasing a boat free an

d clear of any encumbrances. So it is a bit like recording a mortgage against a house.

United States Coast Guard Boat Registration To Use Your Vessel How You Want

Do you know how you want to be able to use your vessel but arent sure exactly how to make your documentation reflect that? Are you in the process of filling out your United States Coast Guard boat registration and are stuck on what an endorsement is? Well, in the context of boat registration, the word endorsement isnt used the same as it is elsewhere, Rather, its more of a statement of purpose how you plan to use your vessel.;

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Q: Do I Need To Apply For A Certificate Of Title

A:;All boats 14 feet or greater in length that are designed for use with a motor, or that use a motor at any time, must be titled. For example, sailboats 14 feet or longer with a backup motor in use, or sailboats designed for use with a backup motor, must be titled. Even canoes 14 feet or longer that use a motor of any type must be titled. Boats exempt from titling requirements include U.S. government-owned vessels; federally documented vessels; boats used solely for demonstration, testing, sales, or promotional purposes by a dealer or manufacturer; and boats registered in another state which are not located in the Commonwealth for more than 60 consecutive day

Is Documenting Your Boat Enough

How Do I Document My Boating Experience

Just because you documented your boat with the US Coast Guard, doesnt mean that you wont have to also register your boat in the state. Though there are states that may not require you to register a documented boat.

Here are the states in which dont require you to register your boat if you have had it documented with the federal government through the United States Coast Guard:

  • Arkansas
  • Vermont

As with any written article, I suggest you check with the overriding authority to verify that nothing has changed and the information is still valid. As any article ages, laws can change.

Since there are 19 states that allow you to get away without state registration if documented, the other 31 states DO require you to also register your boat with the state of primary use.

Registering with the state may require you to, in essence, be double registered.

When you document your boat with the USCG, you have to place your identifying information on your boat similar to registering with the state. When documented, you have to place the name; of your boat and the hailing port on the transom.

You also have to permanently affix your certificate number somewhere inside the boat that is easily accessible. So if you are also required to register with the state of primary use, you will also have to display the registration markings as required by the state.

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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 boats 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.

Title Assurance

The US Coast Guard holds strict requirements to ensure each documented vessel will 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

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 vanitys sake, marking the interior of the hull provides a more desirable appearance. For practicality purposes, it is simple to have one number assigned for the duration of ownership that is accessible while aboard the boat.;


Q: I Made My Own Boat What Do I Do About Registration And Titling

A: The owner of a homemade boat should contact the Environmental Police to schedule an inspection of the vessel by an officer . Homemade boats must be inspected to establish proof of ownership and to verify the description of the vessel. The inspecting officer will provide the customer with an inspection certificate that must be presented when registering the vessel. ;At the time of registration, your boat will be assigned a HIN . ;You will be given instructions on how to place this HIN on your boat. ;You must provide proof, to the registration office, of the HIN placement on your boat before you will receive your registration card and decal. ;In addition, the applicant must submit a completed form provided by the Department of Revenue showing that sales tax on materials used has been paid .

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Filing For Coast Guard Documentation

When you are ready to begin the Coast Guard registration process for your vessel, you will have a choice regarding where you go to file your paperwork. All paperwork involving documentation is handled by the National Vessel Documentation Center , which is a division of the Coast Guard. You can go to the Coast Guard website to file your forms if you wish, but many boat owners find the website cumbersome to use and difficult to follow. That is why more boat owners are turning to third-party agencies like ours here at Vessel Documentation Online, Inc. for assistance.

We Help with Registration

When you need help with the Coast Guard registration process, the place to turn is here at Vessel Documentation Online, Inc. You can file your forms easily right here at our website, and our expert staff will look over the information to check for errors and accuracy. Once everything is fine, we can then file the paperwork for you with the Coast Guard and keep track of the progress for you so you know when you can expect resolution. Make the process easier for yourself and take advantage of the help we can provide for you so you can get your boat on the water.

Title Or Document Your Boat


While documenting a boat may provide a discount on insurance and taxes, if you are not going to travel into international or foreign waters, there may not be much of a benefit to doing it. Since a documented boat has to be named, when you go to sell it the next owner may not like the boats name.

Changing the boats name has to to be approved by the U.S. Coast Guards National Vessel Documentation Center and there is a fee to doing this. The other issue is that there is a widespread maritime phobia to changing a boats name. Many feel that this is bad luck.

There are ceremonies performed when changing a boats name in hopes of appeasing the Gods. Legend says that when a boat is christened with a name, its name goes into a Ledger of the Deep maintained by Neptune himself.

While I personally dont fall victim to this way of thinking, MANY actually do. So when it comes time to sell/upgrade your documented boat, you would have been prudent to name your boat with a likable name.

As odd as this may be, documented boats can have the same name as other documented boats. They can also be labeled with any U.S hailing port whether you use it there or not.

I have had boats that qualify for USCG documenting, but I have chosen to stick to state titling. I feel that most family and watersport enthusiasts within the realm of the boating style I enjoy, are more comfortable and identify with a state titled boat.

You can check here to see if your state requires title on boats.

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Acting On A Registration Search

Performing a U.S. Coast Guard boat registration search is something that you can do online. You can locate a website that offers access to the Coast Guard database and has the search functions available. Once you are at the site, all you need to do is enter the vessels documentation number, if you have it, or the name of the vessel. The name search may bring back several results to you that you need to examine so you can see just which refers to the boat you are considering. If you have the documentation number, your boat will be matched exactly to that number, and you will have just what you need.

Go Do Your Registration Search!

You can come to us at the Maritime Documentation Center if you want to do a U.S. Coast Guard boat registration search. We offer the vessel search function on the left side of our web page so you can just click on it, enter a documentation number or ship name, and you will get results instantly. You can also use our website after you make your vessel purchase if you want to document your new boat yourself or perform any number of other services that you would have to send to the Coast Guard. With our help, you can find out all about the boat you want most so you can make it yours.

How To Apply For Registration Or Title

To title or register your vessel, fill out a Vessel Title Application but don’t sign it. Bring the application and the following information to your licensing agent:

  • Model year and make
  • Hull identification number, if any
  • U.S. Coast Guard document number, if any.
  • If vessel is documented by U.S. Coast Guard, a copy of documentation papers is required. Owners who appear on Certificate of Documentation must be present to sign vessel application.
  • Ownership documents
  • Out-of-state titles or registration certificates. If your boat was purchased in a state that only requires registration, then this is the ownership document required to register and title your boat in Washington
  • Washington state certificate of title
  • If vessel has not been titled and registered before and was purchased new as of July 1, 1985, the original manufacturer’s Statement of Origin
  • Boaters must title and register their vessels within 60 days of moving to Washington. If you live in Washington and bought the boat in another state, you must title and register your vessel within 15 days of its purchase. Visit the Washington Department of Licensing for specific requirements related to applications, fees and more.

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    Q: I Live In Another State But Sometimes Boat In Massachusetts Do I Need To Register And Title My Boat

    A: Visiting boat owners who are registered in another state are allowed to boat in Massachusetts for up to 60 consecutive days without obtaining a Massachusetts registration and title. If you plan to keep the boat in Massachusetts for more than 60 consecutive days, you must obtain a Massachusetts registration and title certificate.

    Q: What Do I Do With The Registration Certificate Number And Decal

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    A: The registration certificate is proof that the boat is registered. It also serves as proof of ownership if the boat is not titled or documented. The registration certificate should be available for inspection on board the motorboat whenever it is in operation.

    The registration number is assigned when you register your boat for the first time. It should be painted or attached to each side of the forward half of the boat. It should read from left to right, be in block letters not less than three inches high, and contrast with the color of the boat’s hull. The number consists of the letters MS followed by no more than four numbers and two capital letters. A two-inch space or hyphen must separate the letters and the numbers. The registration number is issued to the boat owner and not the vessel. Therefore, it can be transferred to different boats for a given owner, but it cannot be transferred to a new owner.

    The registration decal should be placed in line with and three inches to the stern of the registration number on the port side of the boat. The decal is issued with the initial registration and each registration renewal; it indicates the month and year that the registration expires.

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