Yacht Registration vs. Documentation

Published on October 14th, 2014

Should you document your yacht with the U.S. federal government, or does it make more sense to simply register the vessel in your state? Each state has different requirements for registration, and they all have different agencies responsible for management. So you’ll need to figure out the ins and outs of registering in your own state. And if you find there are more outs than ins, it might be time to consider documenting with the federal government.

Documenting vessels started as a way for the government to manage commercial shipping. Today, the U.S. Coast Guard is in charge of documentation and there are multiple types of vessels that can be documented—including recreational vessels. Any documented vessel may be used for recreational purposes, regardless of its endorsement, but a vessel documented with a recreational endorsement only may be used for that purpose. If you want to run a commercial fishing charter business on your boat, for example, you’ll have to document your vessel with a fishing designation even if you also use it for pleasure.

Any vessel of five net tons or more can be documented. Net tonnage is a measure of a vessel’s cargo carrying volume. It should not be confused with the vessel’s weight, which may also be expressed in tons. Most vessels more than 25 feet in length will have a cargo volume of five net tons or more. – YachtWorld, read on

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