Not every boat has to be documented, nor does it have to receive documentation. That may seem like a weird thing to say, coming from a site that specializes in vessel documentation. However, while we’ve built a portal to make it easier than ever for people to get the vessel documentation they need, the last thing we want is for someone who doesn’t need vessel documentation to try and get it. there are specific rules about what kinds of vessels have to be documented, as well as what kind of US documented vessels can be documented if you would like.
Vessels that can be Documented
As you may have heard, you can get your vessels documented if they measure at least five net tons. “Net tonnage,” of course, is different than just weight. It measures the volume of the boat, not just how heavy it is. As most of us don’t have a “net tonnage” scale at our docks, something to keep in mind is that if the vessel is more than 25 feet in length, then it almost assuredly has net tonnage in excess of five tons. If it’s right at five or just a bit under it, you may want to examine it further or get it checked out.
For you to get vessel documentation on a vessel, it has to be owned entirely by a citizen of the United States. That means that the owner has to be a citizen, or if there are multiple owners, they each have to be citizens. There are some exceptions to this, namely if you have one of a few certain kinds of vessels that respond to oil spills. But, if you have a regular vessel, then it has to be owned by American citizens.
Must-Be US Documented Vessels
The above went over the vessels that can be documented. There are some vessels that have to be documented if they’re to legally operate in the United States, no ifs, ands, or buts. These include vessels that are five net tons or more and are used in fishing activities or some kind of coast wise trade on US waters, or in the Exclusive Economic Zone. A good rule of thumb: if your vessel isn’t above a certain size, and you don’t plan on using it to make money, then you may be able to avoid documentation. If you have more questions, call (866) 981-8783.