Coast Guard Requirements

Coast Guard Requirements Every Boat Owner Needs to Know

The United States Coast Guard is an entity within the government that rules over the use of recreational and commercial boats in US waters and certain areas beyond them. Registering your boat with the USCG has advantages and, in some cases, may be legally required. However, not all boats need to be registered or are eligible for registration with the Coast Guard. There’s more than one Coast Guard requirement and you need to be familiar with them as a responsible boat owner. 

Hull Identification Number (HIN)

This is a number that is unique to your vessel, much like the vehicle identification number on your car, truck, or SUV. It is associated with your boat and is on much of the documentation that you will have for your vessel. You will use it to register your boat and on many of the other paperwork associated with owning a boat in the United States. The number contains two letters to start, followed by 11 numbers. You will know it’s an official HIN because it usually says “USCGC” before the letters and numbers. 

Certificates of Documentation

A Certificate of Documentation is required for any boat registered with the United States Coast Guard, whether you build it, buy it now, or purchase a used vessel. Once you complete registration, you will then submit an Application for a Certificate of Documentation. In some cases, you may also need to submit an application for an individual letter of authorization. Once approved, you’ll get the certificate that proves you have submitted all necessary paperwork. Be sure to keep the certificate somewhere safe and dry on your boat, along with the other documentation associated with it. 

Changing Information on Your Certificate of Documentation

Sometimes it’s necessary to change a name or the contact information on the Certificate of Documentation. For legal and protection reasons, it’s best to do this as soon as possible. You will have to fill out a form that allows you to change your name and contact information, which is then submitted to the US Coast Guard. Once received, the USCG will update the data in the system and issue you a new Certificate of Documentation with the current information on it. Keep in mind that it’s against the law to operate a boat more than three miles outside United States waters without the owner’s permission, so making sure the correct name is on the certificate will save a lot of trouble. 

Coast Guard Requirements

Lost or Damaged Paperwork

It is necessary to have your Certificate of Documentation on board your boat at all times so if yours is damaged or lost, it’s imperative to get a new one right away. You can’t sell your boat with your documentation so keep that in mind too. You can apply for a replacement document on the Coast Guard’s website. 

Making sure you follow everything on the Coast Guard requirement list is an important part of owning a boat. It’s a good idea to be familiar with the rules so that you can abide by them or take action if you find that you aren’t. The US Vessel Documentation Center is here to help. Contact us today and we can help you determine which requirement needs your attention and how to get the job done.