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Boat Registration vs Documentation

Dec 7, 2022

In the US, recreational boat owners have to register their boats with local governing bodies; certain types of boats will also have to be documented.

The processes involved in boat registration and documentation can often be confusing. To someone who is new to boating, boat registration and documentation may seem like the same thing – they aren’t.

Documentation of Vessels

Documenting of boats was initiated by the federal government to manage commercial shipping and the taxes they are charged. The US Coast Guard documents all kinds of commercial and recreational vessels. While commercial vessels can be used for recreational purposes, recreational vessels can’t be used for commercial transactions.

If you wish to use your recreational boat for fishing purposes, you will need to have it documented.

Why is Documentation of Boats Needed?

If you intend to travel to foreign territories, you will need a Certificate of Documentation to protect you from other governments.

It’s also easier to get a bank loan when your boat is documented. Also, sometimes getting your boat documented can help you save on taxes.

In case your boat is stolen, it makes it easier to track it down if it is documented.

Boat Registration

Boating on a motorized vessel

Every boat that is operating in the US needs to be registered with either the federal government or the boating agency. Registered numbers are made up of a combination of letters as well as a two-letter state code.

Boat registration works just like car registration. The fee pays for pollution and navigation rules. Registration programs also help identify stolen or lost boats. The collected fee also funds state boating programs.

Some states don’t require boats to be titled so ownership is determined by boat registration. If you’ve just purchased a boat, you should get it registered right away.

Also, majority of states require all personnel operating a boat to have a Boater Card.

Boater’s Academy provides an online boater safety course that includes study guides and finishing online quizzes at the end of every chapter. After the final test has been completed, applicants receive boat safety certification that shows that you have the knowledge and skills to keep you safe on the boat.

Our course is approved by the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators as well as the U.S. Coast Guard. Once you receive the certificate, you can apply for a state Boater Card.

Start your class today!