You must be familiar with and abide by paperwork regulations if you own a boat in the United States. Vessel owners in the US have been obligated to maintain certain documents since the first ships were registered. Documenting your boat will need pictures of your boat’s hull, ports, windows, locks, equipment, antennae, speakers, water line markers (called “bilge boards”), registration numbers, owners’ names and addresses, and hull numbers; all are essential elements of maintaining such accurate records.
Documenting the size of your boat can assist you in understanding what it is that is being recorded. Suppose you need to offer information to authorities or other interested parties. In that case, you may quickly retrieve the images you took of these parts of your yacht from the digital file you created. It’s crucial to keep up-to-date records even if you don’t intend on selling your boat or getting it inspected anytime soon. Following these guidelines can help you avoid legal trouble in the United States.
Make Sure Your Boat Is Titled and Registered with the State or States Where it is located.
A boater’s first rule of thumb is to always keep a close eye on where their vessel is. This is true regardless of where you call home. However, you may also be aware that the regulations dictating how boaters are obligated to do so might differ from state to state and even nation to country. There are thirteen “states” in the United States that are recognized by the federal government and have their boat registration procedures.
The other 37 states are considered “non-documenting” states since they do not issue their forms of identification but recognize those provided by other jurisdictions. So, let’s get to the bottom: what does this mean? A boat in the United States requires registration and documentation with a recognized jurisdiction, such as Delaware or Florida. That way, nobody will wonder where your boat is, and you can rest easy knowing you won’t be unwittingly dragged into trouble with the law.
Maintain Accurate Records of all Purchases and Sales of Your Boat
If you have a boat, you know the government makes you jump through some hoops to keep it. There are several regulations governing the process of boat registration, but we’ll cover one aspect: maintaining records of the boat’s sales and purchases. There are several good reasons to keep a log of your boat’s past: At the outset, you should know that you might be required by law to keep certain records from previous transfers if you ever decide to sell your boat or other vessels in the future.
Second, you may monitor the vessel’s worth over time with complete documentation. Though not all jurisdictions compel such record-keeping, some do need it. Lastly, if someone else tries to claim a vessel as their own, having precise and well-maintained documents will make claiming ownership much simpler.
Display Hull Identification Numbers (HINs) When Documenting Your Boat
Your boat’s serial number and other identifying information are called hull identification numbers (HINs). They’re mandated by law and aid in tracing the origins of vessels without proper paperwork. Private detectives and others could utilize HINs relatively efficiently to identify the rightful owners of boats whose operators had engaged in illegal activities. HINs are becoming more critical as personal ID numbers because of the difficulty of changing them.
Contrary to popular belief, HINs may be displayed on vessels regardless of citizenship or location. The boat’s maker will provide detailed instructions on permanently mounting the required identification numbers and where they should be displayed. You may also locate this data in your boat’s documentation; the HINs are often included on a separate page or pages towards the back of your owner’s handbook. However, those papers are essential for US Coast Guard registration, so keep them safe (United States Coast Guard) when documenting your boat.
Keep Copies of Any Bills Of Sale, Titles, or Other Documents Related To Your Boat
You’ve finally decided to spend your summer far from shore, sailing across the ocean. Since you’ve prepared for this event and packed accordingly, you already know you’re in for a fantastic time. But one more item to consider before you leave port: how can you verify that the yacht you’re boarding is yours? You haven’t made a terrible error if this inquiry causes your stomach to sink a little.
It’s only meant to be a fallback in case the worst happens. If a dispute over ownership arises, having original or certified copies of relevant documents, such as bills of sale and titles, may be a big help. Aside from keeping copies or invoices of any maintenance or repairs you’ve made to your boat, you may also wish to photograph the name on both sides.
You may be surprised to learn that you do not need a Coast Guard-documented vessel to operate a recreational boat in the United States legally. However, suppose you plan to sell your boat within the next few years or participate in boating races. In that case, it is highly recommended that you explore the U.S. Vessel Documentation Center site for more on this.