Vessel Documentation

Vessel documentation is a national form of registration, which essentially registers the ownership of your vessel with the United States Coast Guard. Your “Certificate of Documentation” essentially replaces a title and registration that you would receive from state authorities.

There are certain minimum requirements that must be met in order to document your vessel; specifically your vessel must be at least 5 net tons, at least 51% of the vessel’s owners must be U.S. citizens, and your vessel must have marking certificate (hull number).

Documentation provides conclusive evidence of nationality for international purposes, provides for unhindered commerce between the states, and admits vessels to certain restricted trades, such as coastwise trade and the fisheries.  Vessel documentation also allows for greater flexibility in obtaining financing. Certain types of mortgages, specifically a “Preferred Ships Mortgage”, are only available to documented vessels and are only available from FDIC approved banks or other lending institutions that have received federal approval.

Baylaw, LLC differs from many “documentation companies” in that we have our staff of attorneys directly handle our clients’ documentation ensuring that the documentation is done correctly and in accordance with maritime legal standards.  If you are interested in documenting your vessel or have questions related to the documentation process, please contact one of our attorneys.