Becoming a vessel owner is a long-term commitment. Regardless of whether you are using it for recreational purposes or commercial ventures, there is a great deal of maintenance and research that can go into caring for your vessel. Before you even purchase it, however, you want to make sure that you have thoroughly researched a vessel’s history. In order to obtain all of the compulsory information for a vessel you will need to obtain an Abstract of Title.
What is an Abstract of Title?
An Abstract of Title refers to one of two things- it’s either all of the information about a vessel that has been submitted to the United States Coast Guard or a record of that information. It is very comprehensive, so it’s useful when you are deciding whether or not you should make a financial commitment to a specific vessel. The Abstract of Title contains information such as:
- Name of the vessel
- History of name changes to the vessel, if relevant
- Coast Guard number
- Hull Identification Number (HIN)
- Name of the builder
- When and where the vessel was built
- Records of all mortgages and liens
In other words, you can learn a lot about a vessel’s complete history through the Abstract of Title. The last thing you want to experience is purchasing the vessel of your dreams, only to learn that there are outstanding balances connected to it. If that happens, you become liable for paying off a loan that you didn’t take out. Once a vessel becomes yours, everything tied to it is also your responsibility.
Along with identifying information and financial history, an Abstract of Title will also contain other relevant documents. These documents are sorted in chronological order, making it easier for you to locate specific information. Many of these secondary documents are required for vessel registration. Some of these types of vessel documentation include:
- The Bill of Sale
- Preferred Ship Mortgages, followed by a Satisfaction of Mortgage
- Notice of Claim of Lien, followed by a Satisfaction of Claim of Lien
The documents above are of particular interest to lenders. Other parties often seek out an Abstract of Title for those specific documents. Vessel documentation with ‘Satisfaction’ in the name means that the terms of an arrangement have been satisfied. In this case it means that you, as the new owner, don’t need to worry about any outstanding payments that you would otherwise be expected to take care of.
What Else Should I Know About an Abstract of Title?
It’s important to remember that there are no laws requiring a vessel owner to record a lien with the United States Coast Guard. This means that information about a lien may not appear on an Abstract of Title. While it may not be 100% comprehensive, however, an Abstract of Title contains invaluable information that can aid in your decision-making process.
Further, since the abstract only contains information that was registered with the United States Coast Guard, it may be missing information that was filed in another country. In addition, information that was filed in another state may be absent from the Abstract of Title as well. We at the US Vessel Documentation Center can help point you in the right direction so you can learn if this applies to the vessel that you’re considering for purchase.
There are other financial legal troubles that the Abstract of Title can assist you with too, namely theft and fraud. Always make sure to verify that the Coast Guard Number and Hull Identification Number match the numbers on the vessel. If the identifying numbers listed on the abstract do not match those on the vessel itself, this could mean that the vessel was stolen and is being sold fraudulently.
Where to Obtain an Abstract of Title and Other Documents
Obtaining an Abstract of Title can be a very lengthy, time-consuming process. That time is better spent enjoying your vessel out on the open water. Rather than submit the appropriate requests and manage the seemingly endless amount of vessel documentation on your own, you can leave that to the US Vessel Documentation Center. We provide you with all of the vessel documentation that a vessel owner needs, simplify the submission process, and manage your documents on your behalf.
If you ever feel confused by all of the industry jargon or aren’t sure which documents you need, there’s no need to worry. We’re here to help you every step of the way. If you’re not sure which types of vessel documentation you need to pursue or have questions when completing an application, simply reach out to a member of our team by calling 800-340-7580. You can also get in touch with us via email at email@example.com.
For your convenience, our website also gives you direct access to live agents with whom you can connect right away for faster service.