Congress Proposes 5 Year USCG Documentation

Let’s hope this passes….

The Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2015 (H.R. 1987) authorizes Coast Guard and Federal Maritime Commission funding levels for two years, and includes provisions to improve Coast Guard mission effectiveness, help modernize the Service’s aging vessels and other assets, and reform U.S. maritime transportation laws. The bill was introduced by Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Subcommittee Chairman Duncan Hunter (R-CA), along with Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Bill Shuster (R-PA), Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Ranking Member Peter DeFazio (D-OR), and Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Ranking Member John Garamendi (D-CA).

A link to the bill…..see section 312 for the specific language….

and here’s how bills work

…haha…I love these

USCG considers multi year documentation

Many people don’t realize the value of USCG documentation for recreational vessels that travel internationally.

There are many advantages to documenting a pleasure boat, but this has come about mostly because of the Ships Mortgage Act.   Marine lenders will now typically insist on vessel documentation in order to have a preferred vessel mortgage which gives them an optimal security interest.  Boats used for non-skippered bareboat charter are considered as recreational for documentation purposes.  It is especially important to have documentation for offshore cruising as this offers evidence of nationality and certain protections under the U.S. flag.  State registrations are not recognized internationally, where USCG Documented vessels have international recognition.  The further you are from the US, the more important being USCG documented becomes.  Being USCG documented also means that the boat is US flagged and provides you with some legal rights and protections that a state registered boat would not receive when in foreign waters.  Finally, USCG documented vessels are entitled to aid from the US Consulate when in foreign waters, which is not the case with state-registered vessels.

Coast Guard documentation is required when a vessel is used for commercial purposes or a marine lender wishes to record a ship’s mortgage. In order to become documented however, a vessel must measure more than approximately 24′ in length and its owner must be a U.S. Citizen. The vessel must have also been built in the United States to qualify for certain commercial endorsements.   Coast Guard documentation is also considered to be the most conclusive form of vessel ownership. When applying for documentation, applicants must show convincing evidence that they are in fact the rightful owners. This is not always the case with state agencies where such requirements are sometimes quite relaxed. Documentation is further enhanced by an abstract of title which shows a chronological history of  prior ownership. Such an extensive background history is not available in most state jurisdictions.

Recreational vessels, charter vessels or vessels for hire that remain outside the waters of the United States for extended periods must still renew their documentation.  The current yearly renewal fee is $26.  This new fee went into effect in 2014 and was created by legislation (Section 10401 of the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1990 (Pub. L. 101-508, Nov. 5, 1990, 104 Stat. 1388), codified at 46 U.S.C. 2110) requiring that such operations be budget neutral.  It seems that the USCG documentation program was not fully considered when this legislation was enacted.  Currently the USCG is accepting comments about the creation a multi-year documentation.  I, for one, think this is a great idea.  Imagine being in a foreign port when your documentation comes due and you have to depend on what may be a less than reliable postal service to deliver this essential document.  A lot of cruisers spend years away from the U.S. and this extension would be a relief for those on a multi-year cruise.  I have always wondered why the documentation must be renewed in the first place.  Perhaps it would be better and more efficient to allow the documentation to remain in force unless a change in ownership, removal from documentation or other change in the vessel’s status occurs?


Here’s a link to the comment and proposed rule page….the comment period is open until June 1, 2015….!documentDetail;D=USCG-2010-0990-2737

Let’s hope the multi-year documentation becomes a reality…..