Saturday, April 13, 2024

How To Register Boat With Coast Guard

Q: How Long Are The Registration And Title Good For And How Much Do They Cost

How to Document Your Boat with the United States Coast Guard

A: The title certificate is good for the life of the boat, or until the boat is sold or otherwise transferred, at which time the new owner must obtain a another title. The title fee is $27.50. This is a one-time charge.

The boat registration certificate is valid for two years from the date of issuance. Cost is based on the length of the vessel.

What Boats Are Eligible To Be Documented

Vessels must measure at least five net tons and be owned by US Citizens in order to apply for Documentation. This generally equates to vessels that are about 35 feet or longer, but it truly depends on the tonnage of the vessel. It is also important to note that Documentation is only offered to owners who are US Citizens.

Q: What Should I Do If I Am Buying Or Selling A Boat

A: In order to execute a boat transaction, the following items are necessary:

  • Bill of sale
  • 12-character serial number pencil tracing
  • Proof of payment of Massachusetts’ sales tax
  • A completed application
  • Appropriate fees
  • Title from seller if applicable

Massachusetts sales tax is now payable online. For more information visit the Department of Revenue website or call 392-6089.

In addition to the previous requirements, if the boat is 14 feet or greater in length and uses a motor either temporarily or permanently, or if it is designed for use with a motor, the certificate of title must be signed over from the seller to the buyer. The buyer then presents this information and documentation to the Massachusetts Environmental Police Registration Bureau to obtain a new registration card and certificate of title.

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Do I Still Have To Pay Taxes If My Boat Is Uscg Documented

The answer is yes. Often boaters are confused whether they still have to pay state taxes or not. Regardless if your vessel is documented, it must still comply with state laws and pay applicable state taxes in the state you plan on operating the vessel.

This is what a USCG Certificate of Documentation looks like.

What Uscg Documenting Your Boat Means


Documenting your boat with the USCG means it is being titled on a national level. The vessel you are trying to document must abide by the following criteria: the vessel is of at least five net tons, it has a hull number, the owners are US citizens, and the owners have filled out an application for documentation with the USCG. You can find the Initial Vessel Documentation instructions to document your boat here at the Coast Guard National Vessel Documentation Center site. Generally, boats that are 25 feet in length and bigger qualify to be documented, regardless of their weight. If you took out a loan for your vessel, the bank might require you to document your boat. If you have purchased a smaller boat like a tender or dinghy these generally do not qualify to be documented and will only have to be state titled.

A documented vessel may not have a state certificate of title, but can be registered in the state in which it is primarily used. States like New York, New Jersey, and Maryland, are allowed to document and state register their vessels. Other states like North Carolina, South Carolina, and Florida require for the vessel to be deleted from the USCG in order for the boat to be state titled. In order to delete the vessel from the USCG, all mortgages must be satisfied by the lien holder if not free and clear.

If you are a US citizen and plan to operate the vessel in foreign waters, regardless of the size of the vessel, the boat must be documented by the USCG.

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In Summary: Uscgs Required Boat Safety Kit

The U.S Coast Guards minimum requirements are just that: the minimum requirement. We recommend that you exceed these requirements where possible. Theres nothing wrong with carrying more PFDs than you need, or equipping more visual distress signals than the rule book says.

Dont forget, these Coast Guard boat requirements are in place to keep you safe. Besides, if you dont follow the rules and end up having an accident, your insurance company wont pay you a dime if you didnt take the necessary precautions.

For peace-of-mind, we recommend that you contact your neared branch of the U.S. Coast Guard or U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary for a voluntary Vessel Safety Check.

Registering A Boat Isnt The End: Renewal

It is a true accomplishment when you get your vessel registered. However, for so many vessel owners, thats really the beginning of the documentation process. The next step is to, in a years time, renew. Of course, you have to remember to do so, as you dont want to do it too early . We can help here, as well. You can choose to, through our site, renew it for years in advance. That way, youll have one less thing to worry about.

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What Are The Benefits Of Coast Guard Vessel Documentation

There are three scenarios where you might want to document your recreational boat.

1. You plan to use your boat in international waters. A Certificate of Documentation is internationally recognized and makes it much easier for an American vessel to enter and leave foreign ports.

2. You dont want to display state registration numbers for aesthetic reasons. A documented vessel does not display state registration numbers. Instead, they visibly display their name, hailing port, and are subject to Coast Guard lettering requirements.

3. You opted to finance your boat and the bank requires vessel documentation. Lenders will frequently require eligible vessels to have documentation because documented vessels qualify for preferred mortgages, and the Coast Guard cannot make changes in documentation without consent from the lender.

How To Register A Boat

Expired Coast Guard Registration on Boat Aground in Edmonds

So youve finally purchased the boat of your dreams. Now, whats the next step? A good place to start is with boat registration. Registering a boat is required by lawmuch like with a carand the rules and guidelines for how this process is done and what kind of watercraft must be registered are dictated by the state in which the vessel will regularly operate .

Heres the basic steps to follow when registering a boat:

  • Research the boat registration requirements in your state.
  • Complete a registration formeither online, through the mail, or in person.
  • Provide proof of ownershipincluding a title and/or bill of sale.
  • Pay the registration fee, which varies by state and the size of the vessel.
  • Be conscious of the expiration date and apply for renewal.
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    Administration Of Vessels Under The Malta Flag

    Besides providing shipping services, the MSD is also responsible for the regulation, control and administration of all matters related to merchant shipping, the certification of seafarers, the fostering of Maltas relations in international shipping fora, and the administration and implementation of international maritime conventions and agreements.

    Us Coast Guard Documented Boats

    Larger recreational boats owned by U.S. citizens may be documented by the U.S. Coast Guard instead of being titled with the state. Please visit the United States Coast Guard National Vessel Documentation Center or call the USCG at 1-800-799-8362 for more information. Federally documented boats operating on Wisconsin waters must also be registered in Wisconsin if Wisconsin is the state of principle use or if the boat has been used in Wisconsin for a period in excess of 60 consecutive days only exceptions being documented commercial fishing vessels with a home port located outside of Wisconsin operating on Wisconsin waters for 60 consecutive days or less.

    The expiration decals must be displayed on either side of the vessels name on the transom, but it is not required to display the registration number. If the expiration decals are not displayed beside the vessels name, then the registration number and decals must be displayed as they are for undocumented vessels.

    Applications for registration of federally documented vessels must include as part of the application a photocopy of the front and back of the federal certificate of documentation for the vessel. The federal certificate of documentation must be current at the time of applying for registration.

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    Q: What If My Registration Has Expired

    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.

    Change From Undocumented To Documented


    The U.S. Coast Guard collects the California Certificate of Ownership when an undocumented vessel is documented and forwards it to DMV with a letter showing the documentation date, the CF number, and the owners name. DMV then updates the database to indicate that the vessel is a documented vessel.

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    Coast Guard Boat Requirements For Registration And More

    I just got a vessel and Id like to get it documented. Can you help? We are often asked some variation of this exact same question. Its not always a good idea to answer a question with a question, but in this case, its valid. We often respond, are you sure you have to get it registered? Just because youve gotten a new vessel, that doesnt mean you automatically, positively have to get it registered. Many vessels dont have to be registered. Of course, if you have any questions about anything related to Coast Guard boat requirements, dont hesitate to reach out to us.

    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.

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    Q: What Is So Important About The Hull Identification Number

    A: All Massachusetts boats must have an approved Hull Identification Number in order to be registered and/or titled. The HIN is unique to each boat, which allows the full history of the vessel to be traced from the manufacturer forward. The HIN is designed so that tampering will cause clear and permanent damage to the boat’s hull, so it is critical in all stolen boat investigations. A vessel shall not operate on the State’s waters unless the vessel displays the assigned HIN affixed by the manufacturer as required by the US Coast Guard, pursuant to Title 33 CFR, Part 181, Subpart C – manufacturer requirements, but OLE may issue HIN’s for homemade boats and any manufactured vessel that does not have an assigned HIN. The number contains at least 12 characters and is permanently mounted or engraved on the upper right corner of the transom. Federal regulations require that the number is also placed in a second location which varies by manufacturer and model. If applicable, 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.

    Q: I Purchased My Boat From A Car Dealer

    Boating Safety – Coast Guard Requirements and More #boatingsafety

    A: Car dealers that are not registered boat dealers must first title the boat in the car dealer’s name before legally selling the boat. The car dealer must also pay a sales tax to the Department of Revenue before titling the boat. Once the car dealer has applied for and received the title from the state, the sale can be made.

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    Benefits Of Following Uscg Documentation Standards

    There are a couple of potential financial benefits to federally documenting your boat, the first being tax savings. Some states designate a preferred tax status for documented vessels check with your local regulations to see if your state allows this. Another important consideration involves bank loans. If you will be financing a documented vessel, it will allow the bank to record a First Preferred Ships Mortgage and they will supply the National Vessel Documentation Center with proof showing a Satisfaction of Mortgage. This may make it easier to secure the loan and provide important documentation on the matter.

    One other practical benefit of USCG documentation is the facilitation of ocean travel to foreign territories. If you plan to visit other locations outside the U.S. states and territories with your vessel, having the federal documentation can assist your clearance with foreign governments. Having federal paperwork with you can go a long way in proving the status of your boat and compliance with U.S. regulations. In many cases, individual states allow boats from other states to visit their waters for a certain period without any additional registration. It is important to consult the local regulations for any planned location of travel to ensure that you are in compliance, both international and domestic.

    Can My Boat Be Titled And Documented

    Once a boat is Documented with the US Coast Guard, any state titling that may have previously applied to the vessel is invalidated and superseded by Coast Guard Documentation. The registration depends on the requirements of the state where the owner primarily keeps the vessel, and where the taxes have been paid. Some states require vessels to maintain registration along with the Documentation others do not issue a registration at all if a vessel will be Documented. The most important thing to remember is that Documentation with the US Coast Guard DOES NOT exempt an owner from paying taxes to their respective state.

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    How To Remove A Vessel From Documentation

  • Ask the Coast Guard for a Letter of Deletion.
  • Visit a vehicle/boat licensing office and bring all of the following:
  • A copy of the Letter of Deletion.
  • If ownership changed, a signed, notarized from all the registered owners reflected in the Coast Guard records.
  • Payment for the $38.75 fee.
  • You may pay with cash, check, or money order. Some debit/credit cards are accepted at most offices.
  • What Kind Of Boat Must Be Registered


    Generally, boats must be registered in their state if they have a gasoline, diesel or electric motor, including a trolling motor. Personal Watercrafts are considered motorized crafts and needs to be registered in most states. Sailboats without auxiliary power must be registered if over a certain size like eight feet, but that differs by state. The registration requirements for kayaks, paddleboards, canoes, rowboats and other human-powered craft also differ by state but most dont need to be registered.

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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.

    Is Documenting Your Boat Enough

    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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