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
- 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
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
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
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
SHOULD I RETURN THE CERTIFICATE OF DOCUMENTATION WITH THE
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.
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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