USCG Certificate of Documentation

USCG Certificate of Documentation vs State Registration

When you buy a boat, it must be registered. This is commonly done with the United States Coast Guard, but may also be necessary at the state level. best water efficient toilets andre johnson houston texans jersey shampoo sebovalis Mexico isp 6 pin asics gt 2000 dames aanbieding gps tracker do auta heureka wurth zaklamp Belgium adidas handball spezial test houston texans andre johnson jersey fsu jersey nike velo botas estilo dr martens con plataforma 24bottles sandali bionatura amazon radio elta So what’s the difference? It’s a good idea to understand the guidelines associated with registering your boat so that it can be done with the proper entity. Doing so incorrectly can lead to fines and penalties so use this guide to understand how a USCG certificate of documentation differs from a state registration. 

What is a USCG Certificate of Documentation?

Sometimes called a COD, this is a form that goes along with a federal vessel registration in the United States. The paper is issued by the Coast Guard and is most often used by boats that engage in commercial fishing, international trade or other forms of commerce. However, recreational boats can also be registered with the United States Coast Guard. 

State Registration

Each state can issue its own registration, with guidelines and regulations varying from state to state. It’s a common choice for many boat owners and is a good option if you use a recreational boat in inland or coastal waters in the state in which the boat is registered (which is very often the state that you reside in). 

The Role of Geographic Scope

  • Certificate of Documentation
    • This is a federal registration, meaning you can operate your boat in federal and international waters. 
    • Ideal for vessels that are used for commercial fishing, international trade, and those that frequently engage in offshore travels. 
  • State Registration
    • You are limited to the state’s waters where you register your boat. 
    • Best suited for recreational boaters. 

Legal Requirements

  • Certificate of Documentation
    • Must comply with all federal regulations, including size, nationality and annual fees.
    •  Must renew each year to stay valid.
  • State Registration
    • Adheres to state regulations, including safety, equipment, taxes and state fees. 
    • The renewal schedule varies from state to state. 

Vessel Identifier

  • Certificate of Documentation
    • The documentation number identifies the boat. 
    • The name cannot be repeated at the federal level, but may be used by more than one boat at the state level. 
  • State Registration
    • Registration number is the identifier. 
    • The name must be unique in the state in which the vessel is registered, but can sometimes be repeated at the federal level.  

Taxes and Fees

  • Certificate of Documentation
    • Annual renewal fees, which are paid to the United States Coast Guard
    • Could have to pay fewer state taxes and fees. 
  • State Registration
    • State specific fees and taxes, which vary from state to state. 
    • Registration fees also vary from state to state. 


  • Certificate of Documentation
    • Records are kept by the Coast Guard.
    • Owners can request documentation when necessary. 
  • State Registration
    • Each state maintains its own inventory of boat registrations.
    • The state may not offer as much documentation information as the USCG does. 

USCG Certificate of Documentation

Do you need help with your USCG certificate of documentation? We are here to guide you through the paperwork process, as well as to facilitate form submission and fee payment. If you need assistance, contact the US Vessel Documentation Center.