What You Should Know About Coast Guard Registration Before You Buy Your First Fishing Boat

Coast Guard Registration

It can be quite exciting to become the owner of a fishing boat, especially if it is your first boat or you are going into business but don’t let your excitement keep you from taking care of the legalities, which includes Coast Guard registration for many fishing vessels. It’s required to register your fishing boat and update that documentation on a regular basis to stay compliant with federal fishing boat regulations. If you’re new to the process, this guide will help you through each step. 

Who Must Complete Coast Guard Registration?

If your fishing vessel weighs at least 5 net tons and you are a citizen of the United States, you must register with the US Coast Guard. There are a few exceptions to this rule, but in most cases, a fishing boat must adhere to registration laws for you to legally operate it on the water. Keep in mind that net tons is a measurement of volume, not weight, and most boats that measure 25 feet long or more meet the tonnage guidelines. 

Who Must Obtain USCG Documentation?

If you meet the above size and citizenship requirements, you will need to document your fishing vessel with the United States Coast Guard. Any boat that is used for commercial fishing will also need to be properly documented, including those that operate in any navigable waters of the United States or the Exclusive Economic Zone. Failure to have valid registration paperwork when you operate a fishing boat can result in costly fines and penalties so it’s best to stay compliant at all times. 

What If You Don’t Meet The Requirements?

All commercial fishing vessels must be registered with the United States Coast Guard, as they are being used for commercial reasons. However, other boats that don’t meet size, citizenship, or other qualifications can still register, most often as recreational boats. This offers tax incentives and the ability to get a First Ship’s Preferred Mortgage if desired. If you plan to use your boat for both fishing and recreational purposes, it will be required to be documented. 

Coast Guard Registration

What About Documentation Renewal?

Registration of your fishing vessel is a must, but you also need to pay attention to expiration dates because you will also be required to renew your registration, which is most often done on a yearly basis. Sometimes you can renew every five years, so be sure you choose the option that best suits your fishing needs. It’s advised that you start the renewal process well ahead of time to ensure that it goes through in a timely manner. Getting caught on the water without a valid and current registration could mean paying fines and other penalties, as well as the risk of losing your permit to operate your fishing boat until the matter is taken care of. 

Registering and renewing your boat requires you to complete the relevant paperwork, which can be overwhelming and time-consuming. If you are dealing with Coast Guard registration documentation, let us help. Contact the Commercial Fishing Permits Center today to get started. 

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