Boat Documents
 
 

Getting Boat And Vessel Documents

Here are some more commonly asked questions about boat and vessel documentation

  • Where can I get forms for documentation?
  • Must I submit my application by mail?
  • How do I obtain title information for a documented vessel?
  • Is a documented vessel exempt from state jurisdiction?
    Is the vessel tender documented?
  • What happens when I sell my documented vessel?
  • How long is the certificate of documentation good?
  • May I renew a lost certificate of documentation?
  • Should I return the certificate of documentation with the renewal notice?
  • May I renew my document early?
  • May I renew the certificate after the ownership changes
  • Where may I obtain information on documented vessels?

WHERE CAN I GET FORMS FOR DOCUMENTATION?

Documentation forms may be downloaded from the world wide web at (http://www.uscg.mil/hq/g-m/vdoc/genpub.htm), by telephoning the NVDC, pressing 5 on the first menu and following the instructions for the autofax system or leaving an address to which the forms may be mailed.

MUST I SUBMIT MY APPLICATION BY MAIL?

In many instances where a bill of sale is not required, such as replacement of lost document, change of trade, or renewal, you may fax your application to the NVDC, provided you pay any fees by Visa or Master Card.

 

HOW DO I OBTAIN TITLE INFORMATION FOR A DOCUMENTED VESSEL?

You may obtain an Abstract of Title which will show all bills of sale, mortgages, and notices of claim of lien filed and recorded by the Coast Guard.

You may request the Abstract by fax if you pay by credit card or may mail your request with the appropriate fee to the NVDC.

To get accurate information you must supply the name and official number of the vessel.

IS A DOCUMENTED VESSEL EXEMPT FROM STATE JURISDICTION?

No, all documented vessels must comply with the laws of the state in which they are operated. The vessel's document must be shown to state law enforcement personnel upon their demand. States may require documented vessels to be registered (but not numbered) and to display state decals showing that they have complied with state requirements.

IS THE VESSEL TENDER DOCUMENTED

Documentation of your vessel does not cover the vessel's tender or dinghy. These craft fall within the jurisdiction of the motorboat numbering laws of the state of principal use. Please contact your state agency that handles the registration or numbering of motorboats for further information

WHAT HAPPENS WHEN I SELL MY DOCUMENTED VESSEL?

Return the original Certificate of Documentation to the National Vessel Documentation Center along with a brief note that you sold the vessel.

Your Certificate is nontransferable and should NOT be given to the new owner. When the sale is finalized it is suggested you complete a US Coast Guard Bill of Sale (CG-1340) that can be used by the new owner should he wish to document the vessel. Documentation requires that the new owner send in one signed original and one copy of the USCG Bill of Sale with an Application for Document (CG-1258) and fees.

The buyer should also be able to use the bill of sale form as evidence of the transfer of ownership to obtain state registration and/or title if he chooses not to document the vessel with the US Coast Guard.
If you have an outstanding mortgage of record against your vessel, please make sure the mortgagee (the lender) completes a Satisfaction of Mortgage form and mails an original and one copy to the National Vessel Documentation Center.

Your vessel cannot be removed from documentation with an outstanding mortgage.

 

HOW LONG IS THE CERTIFICATE OF DOCUMENTATION GOOD FOR?

A Certificate of Documentation is valid for one year from the date of issue, providing there are NO CHANGES other than a change of owner's address. The Certificate must be renewed on an annual basis.

Even though it is up to the owner to assure the document does not expire, the Coast Guard will send a Notice of Renewal to the managing owner approximately 45 days prior to expiration.

There is no fee for the yearly renewal. See the instruction letter Renewal of Certificate of Documentation elsewhere at this site regarding renewal procedures.

MAY I RENEW A LOST CERTIFICATE OF DOCUMENTATION?

NO. An Application for Replacement (CG-1258) must be filed along with a $50.00 fee. If the lost document has already expired it must be exchanged. The fee would then be $84.00 plus applicable endorsement fees.

SHOULD I RETURN THE CERTIFICATE OF DOCUMENTATION WITH THE RENEWAL NOTICE?

NO, simply sign, date and return the Renewal Notice…even if your address has changed. Please note the address change. You will receive a renewal decal and a change of address sticker to be affixed to your document.

MAY I RENEW MY DOCUMENT EARLY?

YES. The Renewal form is available at this website. It may be downloaded from the Forms Menu. It may be mailed or faxed to (304)-271-2405. BE SURE TO CITE THE VESSEL’S OFFICIAL NUMBER.

MAY I RENEW THE CERTIFICATE AFTER THE OWNERSHIP CHANGES?

NO. The ONLY change permitted is a change of address. ALL other changes will require that the Certificate be exchanged and accompanied by an Application (CG-1258), fees and other submissions to support the necessary changes

WHERE MAY I OBTAIN INFORMATION ON DOCUMENTED VESSELS?

The "Merchant Vessels of the United States" (CG408) lists the names of US merchant and recreational vessels documented under the laws of the United States. It provides vessel dimensions, tonnage, build (if available), and ownership information.

The last printed version was in 1994. This information is now available in an electronic format by CD ROM through National Technical Information Services (NTIS), 5285 Port Royal Road, Springfield, VA 22161. You can order the latest edition of Vol. 99-001 at a cost of $125.00 plus shipping and handling.

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