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Vessel Documentation: What do you need to know?

On Behalf of | May 8, 2023 | Maritime Ownership

The appeal of the ocean for many is irresistible, and the dream of owning your own yacht or vessel is a goal that you have worked hard to accomplish. However, before you take your new ship out on the sea, you will need to be sure you have the proper documentation.

Vessel documentation goes back to the earliest days of the United States. Today, most ship owners need to follow the guidelines to legally operate in the United States territorial waters.

Which ships actually need to be documented?

Not every boat that sails in the United States needs to be documented. Smaller vessels are generally exempt from the documentation requirement, however, if your vessel weighs more than 5 net tons, then you will be required to have it documented with the federal government.

Additionally, if you plan on using your ship for any type of trade or transportation of passengers within United States coastal waters, then you will also be required to obtain documentation. One side benefit of obtaining documentation for your vessel is that it can open access to preferred mortgage options for yachts and other ships.

Are there different types of registrations?

Yes, there are different ways to register your vessel when it is being documented. The vessel can be registered as one of four different selections: fishery, coastwise, registry, or recreation.

No matter what you register the vessel as, it may be used for recreational purposes unless otherwise restricted. However, if the vessel is only registered for recreational use, it may not be used for other purposes.

What information do you need to have a vessel documented?

In order to register your vessel in the United States, you must be a United States Citizen. Every vessel documented in the United States must be entirely owned by a United States citizen as well, so you cannot share ownership with someone who does not have citizenship as well.

Additionally, you will need to provide documentation proving your ownership of the vessel, and if you are applying for a specific registration other than recreational, you will need to ensure that you can fulfill any additional eligibility requirements of that designation.