National Vessel Documentation Center

National Vessel Documentation Center: to Document or Not to Document

Did you just get the vessel of your dreams, and aren’t sure whether or not you have to get it documented? Does it feel like documentation might be the right course of action for your vessel, but you don’t want to just “jump into it?” Documenting your vessel is a decision that many vessel owners have to make. That said, it’s not something that a vessel owner might want to do “automatically,” as not all vessel owners are best served by that process. At our National Vessel Documentation Center, we’ve helped so many vessel owners just like you to make the right decision for their needs. 

National Vessel Documentation Center

First off, your vessel has to be documented if it measures five net tons or more and you’re going to use it in certain activities. Those “certain activities” include fishing activities on the navigable waters of the United States or the Exclusive Economic Zone. The latter is defined as, more or less, the waters 200 or so miles off of the coast of the United States. Additionally, you’re going to need to document your vessel if it measures the five net tons and you’re using it in “Coastwise” trade on those same waters. “Coastwise” means transporting people or merchandise. Sure, there are exceptions, and we are always glad to answer your questions. 

The Vessels That Can Be Documented 

You can still document your vessel even if you aren’t going to use it for commercial fishery activities, coastwise trade, or anything like that. To be eligible to document your vessel, it has to measure the five net tons and be owned by a citizen of the United States. Something to keep in mind: “net tonnage” measures volume. It does not measure weight. So, a good rule of thumb: if your vessel is 25 feet or more in length, then it almost invariably measures five net tons. 

Why Some People Choose to Document Their Vessels 

“So, if I don’t have to get my vessel documented, why would I want to do that?” Perhaps the main reason that so many vessel owners have done exactly that: for their mortgage. For about a century now (if not longer), lenders, banks, and others have required that a vessel be documented before offering any kind of maritime mortgage. 

A National Vessel Documentation Center for Vessel Owners

We absolutely understand if, even after you’ve read this blog, you’re still a bit undecided about whether or not to get your vessel documented. Depending on how you want to use your vessel, it may very well be the best decision. If you choose to do so, then you’ll find all of the forms you need at our site. Our site was built to expedite the vessel documentation process, from the initial documentation, through renewal, and everything else that we offer. You can fill out our contact form and message us with any questions you might have and see all that we offer here.