Documentation of a new boat is all there for you at closing, making application quick and easy. Years later when you get the wander lust, documentation means digging up documents that be lost, misfiled, or in need of updating. The fee will probably inflate over time too.
Most states require registration (even Montana of all places). I just mailed in my $24 for another two years in Maryland (they throw in the tender sticker for free, but you still need to renew it and display the sticker on it as well). In event of a move, the CG has your paper. I was told that documenting means not having to retitle in your new home state; just registration, thereby obviating battles over taxes.
Domesticvesseldocumentation.com lists these as added benefits:
"A Documented Vessel is easier to buy, finance and sell because its entire history (from the Builders Certificate to present, showing all previous Owners and Mortgages) is Officially Recorded on it’s Abstract of Title. For this is the reason why “Documented” appears in used boat ads as one of the most important attributes of the vessel offered for sale."
"Documentation elevates your yacht to the status of a US Flagged Vessel, placing it under the purview of the United State Admiralty Law, which is why most lenders require Federal Documentation. More than simply a system of registry, it is a prestigious Maritime Tradition which comes down to us virtually unchanged since the day of the Republic."
Clearly, documentation makes sense if you cruise or plan to cruise.
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