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SPC 04-04-2010 05:54 PM

Coast Guard Registration Change w/new owner
I intend to purchase a CG registered boat.

I have found information at the Coast Guard site (USCG National Vessel Documentation Center, FAQ Page for instance) but I would appreciate someone offering an opinion about how difficult and time consuming the process was of changing a registered boat upon purchase.

There are people that do this for a living and the one I talked with charges $250 plus expenses ($84?). That suggests about a 3 hour process for an experienced person or 6 hours for a novice. Is it really that tough?

sailingfool 04-04-2010 07:09 PM

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Registration is a state processing, younee dot refer to this as documentation. Changing documentation is not very difficult if you know your way through the paperwork, which can be confusing. That's why most people pay a few hundred to have a specialist handle the process...I guess it depends on what your time is worth to you.

hellosailor 04-04-2010 07:29 PM

As the fool said, registration and documentation are two different things. A state registration is usually the same as a motor vehicle registration and often required even for federally documented boats if there is an engine on them.

The USCG will answer phone calls and aid you in the Documentation process, which is typically painless and can be done at about 1/4 of the cost that a "documentation agent" will offer to help you with. But if you are financing the boat--the lender may insist on doing that in order to make sure it is done properly (for their title security) and soak you for that to the tune of $700-800.

There's a lot more paperwork to be done filing a "short form" tax return.

JimsCAL 04-04-2010 07:31 PM

I recently changed documentation on my "new" boat. Not a big deal. A couple of forms and signatures by the former owners and me. I can't see paying $250 for someone to fill out the forms.

tommays 04-05-2010 07:03 AM


I found the CG office to be great and correct in all there help ;)

NY has a from on the DMV sight about the many ways as there are 28 :D

Every state is different BUT in NY with a NY vessel it was simple

I was able to use the CG papers signed and notarized to register the boat in NY in my name

Then i was able to use a copy of the NY Registration as proof of transfer to have the CG documentation papers changer to my name ,this does take a WHILE

BarryL 04-05-2010 09:50 AM


I bought a CG documented boat, and like Tommays wrote, it was very easy to change the documentation to me.

Also note that you don't need to have the boat documented. If you are a private owner (as opposed to commercial) and don't plan on leaving US waters I can't think of any reason to keep the documentation.


sailingdog 04-05-2010 02:20 PM

I would point out that some documentation service companies might well be worth using IF the boat was not documented at the time of purchase. Like title search companies in real estate, some of the documentation service companies will provide you with a list of liens, if any, on the boat's title and provide insurance in the case there are outstanding liens that were missed.

That said, if the boat is currently USCG documented, then getting the USCG documentation transferred is relatively painless and simple. However, be aware that you MUST BE A US CITIZEN to own a USCG documented boat.

tempest 04-05-2010 02:30 PM

The process was pretty easy, and I hate paperwork.
I found them to be very helpful.

I wouldn't spend the money on a service, you still have to provide most of the information to the service, anyway.

Once it's done, it's done. All you have to do is sign a form each year and send it back, unless they've changed that recently.

njadventure 05-11-2010 07:47 PM

Tempest- did you first transfer the title and register the boat in NJ and then file the forms with the USCG? Do you happen to recall what form you used?


tempest 05-11-2010 08:34 PM


That's exactly how I did it. I purchased the vessel in maryland, registered it in NJ, then began the change of documentation process with the CG.

I will try to pull out that paperwork and let you know what forms I used. It cost me $ 84 dollars as I recall.

I did have to contact the former owner and have his bank send me a notarized letter stating that his lien had been satisfied. His bank sent it in a day! There were specific guidelines from the GC on what information was required for that. USCG National Vessel Documentation Center, Forms Page

You need the tonnage form:
USCG Marine Safety Center (MSC)

you need form 1258 application for exchange

You need form 1340 Bill of sale...

You need to fill out their credit card form...if you are paying by cc.

I think this covers the major forms....they will contact you if they require any more information. I found them to be very helpful.

I've done this twice now. but the last time was 5 years ago....

Price is the same..!

Hope this helps....if I missed anything, someone will fill in the blanks.

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