Does My Small Two-Man Crew Fishing Boat Require a Vessel Certificate of Documentation?

Vessel Certificate of Documentation

If you’re wondering if your boat requires a vessel certificate of documentation, you are in the right place. In general, any boat with a volume weight of over 5 tons should be documented with the United States Coast Guard. But is that true for smaller vessels? Use this guide to find the answers you are looking for. 

Obtaining a Vessel Certificate of Documentation at the Federal Level

There are a lot of benefits that go with registering your vessel with the United States Coast Guard, particularly if you travel in international waters. Additionally, this federal-level paperwork creates a record of the boat’s specifications, ownership history, and other details that are relevant to it. 

Eligibility for Registration

Smaller boats may not be required to register with the US Coast Guard, however, you may still have the option of doing so if you want to take advantage of the benefits that such a registration offers. Below are the general eligibility parameters for registration. 

  • Size and type – a boat that is at least 5 net tons and 25 feet in length is eligible for federal registration. Smaller boats that engage in commercial activities on the water could also qualify.
  • Purpose – you can register both recreational and commercial vessels and many types of them are eligible, particularly those used for fishing, passenger transportation, and some kinds of trade. 
  • US Citizenship – you must be a United States citizen to be eligible for registration with the United States Coast Guard. 
  • Mortgages and liens – to register a boat with outstanding mortgages and liens, you will need to meet specific requirements that record the financial information. 
  • Clear title – there cannot be any unresolved legal disputes or other conflicts associated with the vessel and these issues must be taken care of before you can register the boat with the USCG.
  • Other considerations – certain types of boats may be subject to additional restrictions and regulations before they can be registered with the US Coast Guard. Commercial fishing boats are one such example and you must adhere to all guidelines for registration approval. 

Vessel Certificate of Documentation

State or Federal Documentation

For smaller boats, you may choose to register at the state level rather than the federal level. This especially applies if you operate a smaller boat and tend to stay within state waters. Check with your state to find out more about the specific regulations, as they vary from state to state. In some cases, you may choose to register your boat at both the state and federal levels, depending on what you plan to do with it. It’s important to be aware of all rules and regulations that exist so that you can properly register your boat, according to its size and purpose. Failure to do so can result in fines and penalties. 

Do you need assistance facilitating the process of obtaining the correct registration and getting a vessel certificate of documentation, if it’s necessary for your fishing boat? We’re here to help. Contact the Commercial Fisheries Permit Center today for help. 

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