Boat Certification

Is Boat Certification Proof of Title Ownership

If you own a boat, you know that there’s a lot of paperwork that must be kept up to date to legally operate your vessel. That naturally leads to questions that you may need to be answered. One of the most common is whether a boat certification counts as proof of title ownership. Vessel documentation is how the United States Coast Guard keeps track of boats and information about them, including who owns which boat. Keep reading to find out what you need to know about properly documenting your boat. 

The Purpose of a Vessel Documentation Search

When you use the online portal to do a vessel documentation search, the goal is to find out what you need to know about a specific boat. There are plenty of reasons why this is so important. Understanding the search process and the details you can discover will help you understand what role each piece of paperwork plays. Here’s what you can find when you conduct a vessel documentation search.

  • Legal compliance
  • Ownership records
  • Liens and encumbrances
  • Permits for access to protected waters

Does This Prove Ownership?

While you can glean quite a bit of valuable information from a boat certification, it isn’t always conclusive proof of who owns the boat. It does establish a legal record of past ownership data, but it’s not the same as having the title to the vessel in hand. Here are some things to consider:

  • Chain of title – these records may not be as comprehensive as you might expect and could be incomplete.
  • Other ownership paperwork – in many cases, bills of sale, certificate of title, and other documents must be included to prove ownership.
  • Documentation is needed for verification – to be sure you have a complete and valid record of ownership, other papers are often needed, including bills of sale and other notarized documents. 
  • Records of liens and encumbrances – outstanding liens and encumbrances can hinder a vessel’s title so ensuring a clean title means having a look at all of the relevant documentation. 

Boat Certification

Why is Boat Documentation So Important?

Having the right documentation is an imperative part of boat ownership and creates a legal record of the identity of a vessel, its specifications, and ownership information. However, it isn’t always considered a conclusive record of current ownership, so you’ll need to examine all accompanying documents to ensure that you are holding a clear chain of title. This should always be done when you buy or sell a boat to create a smooth and efficient transfer of ownership. Once you have made sure everything is on the up and up, it will be much easier to carry on with other business that involves the boat. 

Understanding boat documentation, which includes a boat certification, can be an overwhelming and time-consuming task. We’re here to help you by facilitating the process and answering any questions you have. When you’re ready to get started, contact the US Vessel Documentation Center and we’ll help you every step of the way.