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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello sailors!

Does anyone know about the necessity of being registered for off-shore cruising? I'm trying to find any international law that actually states that a pleasure sailboat must be registered and carry a flag. In Canada, for example, a sailboat without an engine does not even need to be licensed and registration is optional for any pleasure vessel.

What kind of trouble would I get into if I sail a boat without registration and a flag?

Thanks.
 

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Arkadi: First an explanation of terminology so as not to confuse our US friends. What we call Registration our US friends call Documentation and what we call licensing, they call registration. While registration in the US is a state matter, both registration and licensing in Canada are federal matters.

There is no international requirement for Registration/Documentation and I know several licensed Canadian boats who have cruised the Caribbean, however, it does take longer and is problematic in clearing in as other countries expect to see registry/documentation papers and are confused by license/registry papers. I certainly would not try to enter a European port without registry/documentation as their bureauocracy (spelling?) would be incapable of dealing with it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I would think you would need to follow the registration laws of the Country that issued your passport. It's makes coming home easier. Customs does check registrations.
bubb2, thanks, the problem with your advice is that as I said before, Canada (my passport issuer) does not require licensing for a sailboat without an engine and the registration is optional for any pleasure craft. This means that according to the country law I do not need to do either.

Registration (Documentation in US) is a title but would other proof of ownership such as USCG bill of sale or notarized (even legalized) bill of sale be accepted as a proof of ownership in lieu of registration?

Does a pleasure craft have to fly a flag? Flying a Canadian flag does require registration. Which international law states that?

Thanks.
 

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Flying a Canadian flag does not require registration. A pleasure craft is not required by law to fly a flag. But again if you are in foreign waters the bureaucrats may get testy if you do not follow ettiquette.
 

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One other point that BoatPoker did not mention, in many countries, you will have to pay the entry/exit fees multiple times if the boat is not flagged (USCG documented or nationally registered in other countries).
 

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Arkady-
Don't confuse international law (i.e. the UN Law of the Sea treaty) with the laws of different nations. There is no "international law" that will require you or your vessel to have any license or registraiton or documentation or flagging. However, each nation that you try to visit will have their own rules for the identification and sometimes indemnification (insurance) that is required for visiting vessels. If you can't prove that the vessel is yours (title) and what country you and it belong to--to their satisfaction with documents they are familiar with--then they may either send you back to sea, or arrest/impound the vessel.

If you planning to go to the US and Mexico, you only need to satisfy their requirements. If you are going around the world, you may need to prepare more extensively. Then there are visa or entry requirements, which also differ for each nation.

I think the only "international law" that really affects you, would be the law allowing free passage, or entry for succour due to problems en route past the place.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Flying a Canadian flag does not require registration. A pleasure craft is not required by law to fly a flag. But again if you are in foreign waters the bureaucrats may get testy if you do not follow ettiquette.
thanks, boatpoker, I read on the transport Canada web site that flying a flag does require registration. If course, it doesn't say for what kinds of vessels. Can you provide some kind of reference that pleasure crafts are exempt from registration for flying a canadian flag?

As for bureaucrats, they must follow some kind of law, if there is no law that requires a pleasure sailboat to fly a flag, then it shouldn't be a problem, right?
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
hellosailor, thanks, I understand the difference between the local and international laws. Therefore, was my question for you people with off-shore cruising experience:

is national title the only proof of ownership or would bureaucrats consider other evidences such as legalized bill of sale, for example?
 

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Individual nations have their own national paperwork requirements, they are not determine by international law. If you want to go cruising about, you should get your boat registered/licensed and you should then have the basics covered. You should still determine the exact entry requirements of any particular destination, but your basic requirements should be covered.
 

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Arkadi, each bureaucrat makes their own decision--sometimes contrary to their own government's policies--as to what they will accept.

You can either query each one to find out what they want, or credential yourself to the highest standard (national flagging/titling/documentation) and then be certain that what you have will be accepted all over. If you don't want to go to that expense or bother--again, you'll have to query each one and dicker with them each time.
 

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Arkady: Please send me the link to the Transport Canada page showing a pleasure craft must be registered to fly a national flag. I am very familiar with CSA2001 through my work and have never seen any such thing.
 

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I don't need a passport, social security card, drivers licence, voter registration card, etc to be a resident of the USA. But if I try to go anywhere else...I'd be kicked out or end up in jail
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
thanks everyone, very helpful! So no chance to get away without national registration :) I got it!

sailpoker, that was my point that they say a vessel must be registered in order to fly a Canadian flag but they do not specify what kind of vessel. I mean it is not clear whether it applies to all vessels or not and whether pleasure craft is included or not. Therefore, if you can point me to the source that says that I don't need a registration to fly the flag, please post it here.
 

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And an aside. Pleasure craft are not required to fly their national flag while sailing in their home waters. As soon as you "go foreign" you have to fly your national ensign (or allowable substitute).
 

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"As soon as you "go foreign" you have to fly your national ensign (or allowable substitute)."

HAVE TO? Maybe if you and your boat are Canadian, we Yankees suffer no such "Have to" laws.
 

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Lets make it more interesting (and probably typical). So what if you have a passport from one country, live in another country and are planning to buy a boat from another country and then go cruising?

For instance, lets say you are Canadian, living in Japan, planning on buying a Fountaine from France and plan to sail around the world (picking up the boat in France or having it sailed out to Japan for your departure)

Do you fly a Canadian flag? A Japanese flag (as that is where you were resident even though you are now on your way out for an extended abscence) or a French one as that is where you picked the boat up from? Where would you register/license this boat, Canada, Japan, France, nowhere?
 

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"So what if "
There's an old joke about zoo animals on a train traveling from here to there...and the question at the end is "What color were the zoo keeper's eyes?" Which is given at the start but most people forget it assuming it won't be relevant.
Same thing with your question, if you know who flies a flag and why, all the rest is irrelevant background noise. Doesn't change a thing.
 
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