A Guide on USCG Documentation for Commercial Vessels

a guide on uscg documentation for commercial vessels

There are a number of reasons to document a commercial vessel with the United States Coast Guard (USCG). Perhaps you want a federal registration for your vessel to solidify potential financing? Maybe you are looking to ease your international travel activities with a piece of formal documentation from the U.S. Government? While these are certainly sound maneuvers from an organizational standpoint, you may also be in a situation where a Certificate of Documentation (COD) is mandatory. Regardless of your specific circumstances, if you need USCG documentation for your vessel, the Commercial Fishing Permits Center can help.

a guide on uscg documentation for commercial vessels

When is USCG Documentation Required for a Commercial Vessel?

For most recreational vessels, Coast Guard documentation is optional. For commercial watercraft, however, it is often compulsory. If you have a vessel that is over five tons in net weight and you are operating on federal waters, you will need to obtain a COD from the Coast Guard.

This can be done by completing what is called a Form CG-1258 – Application for Certification. To complete this document, you will need to provide a selection of information about yourself and your boat. You will also need to include proof of ownership for your vessel. This can be a formal bill of sale, or a state title or registration. If your vessel has never been documented before, you will also want a Form CG-5397 – Application for Simplified Measurement. 

Once your COD has been issued, it will be good for a period of five years. When your registration is nearing its expiration date, you will receive a notice from the Coast Guard along with instructions for completing a renewal. 

What Exactly is Coast Guard Documentation?

In very simple terms, United States Coast Guard documentation indicates that a vessel is registered at the federal level. This form serves as proof of nationality, and actually represents one of the oldest active functions of the United States government. 

There are a few reasons why this is often considered a preferred mode of registration for commercial vessels. For one, it is much easier to pass through customs in foreign ports with a USCG COD. There is also the concept of title assurance–a COD establishes a clear chain of ownership for a vessel. There are also aesthetic reasons to obtain a COD, as you do not need to display the number on the exterior of your boat, but rather just the name and hailing port.

Get Your Documentation and Commercial Fishing Permits Online

If United States Coast Guard documentation sounds appealing to you as a vessel owner, you have a couple of options for obtaining it. You can work directly with the USCG, downloading the appropriate forms from their website, filling them out by hand, and returning them via the mail. Or, if your time is more scarce, you can work with us at the Commercial Fishing Permits Center.

We offer easy-to-use web forms to process your Coast Guard documentation online. We also have a host of commercial and industrial fishing permit applications for all major regions of the United States. To learn more, contact us today.

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