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Discussion Starter #1
Can some one please explain to me what is meant by a sailboat being coast guard documented. I am about to purchase a used sailboat in Massachusetts. The owner says there is no title per say but has information saying it is coast guard documented. I will be either sailing or transporting the vessel to Canada in the spring. Does this documentation affect in any way the transfer of ownership from one person to another or have any other significant impact on a boat purchase. Thanks
 

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If you are not a US citizen you can't transfer the documentation but will need to drop it and transfer title by state of purchase or import.
Documentation means the vessel is registered with the USCG, some states also require state registration but many don't. Only a citizen can own a documented boat, if going thru a broker they'll probably know more about transferring title across the border.
 

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If you will be keeping the boat in Canada then it's probably not something that you'll really have to deal with. If the boat is documented with the Coast Guard then that means the title is essentially issued by the USCG. When you execute the sale, you should get a bill of sale issued by the USCG, the current owner should be able to provide this. Some US states do not require a USCG documented vessel to be registered with the state, others do.

I assume that when you register the boat in Canada, you would need to show some proof of ownership, the USCG bill of sale should suffice for that. The USCG maintains of database of documented vessels that you can search:

Office of Science and Technology
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Ok, I looked it up and the boat is in the registry but it says documentation expired May 31, 2012. So what does that mean.
 

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USCG documentation is a very good record of ownership. It is the federal boat "registration." Individual states also have their own registrations. In order for the boat to be documented, all the records in the history of ownership need to be submitted so there is no hidden owner or lien somewhere in its history. If yours has expired, you can renew it by updating and filing again. It costs around 80 bucks. Updating it would probably be a good proof of ownership when you register in Canada.
 

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Dirt Free
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I am a Transport Canada Appointed Tonnage Surveyor and deal with this stuff every day, the USCG does not issue Bills of Sale.

If the vessel is truly USCG documented there will be a permanently marked documentation number inside the vessel somewhere and this number can be checked against the database.

If it is documented, it is illegal to register or license in Canada without a de-listing letter from USCG.

If it is a documented vessel and the owner cannot produce the USCG documents DO NOT buy it.

USCG documents are proof of ownership. If he cannot produce that document he does not legally own it. Even if he paid for the boat and has a bill of sale, if the ownership was not changed in the USCG database you can be in for a world of grief.

Note that there are differences in US vs. Canadian terminology ....
USCG documentation equals Canadian Registered .... US registered equals Canadian Licensed.

This article may help License or Register
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Boatpoker, The owner says he has the documentation you are talking about. Do I get a bill of sale and the documentation with his signature and take that somewhere to get the de-listing letter. Is this done at US customs at a border crossing??
 

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I am a Transport Canada Appointed Tonnage Surveyor and deal with this stuff every day, the USCG does not issue Bills of Sale.

License or Register
The boat I boat a year ago was documented with the USCG. I received a USCG bill of sale from the broker. This is the form:

http://www.uscg.mil/nvdc/forms/cg1340.pdf

The Coast Guard doesn't fill it out, they provide the form and the seller (or in my case the broker) fills it out. I believe you need this if the vessel is USCG documented and there is no state registration.
 

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Boatpoker, The owner says he has the documentation you are talking about. Do I get a bill of sale and the documentation with his signature and take that somewhere to get the de-listing letter. Is this done at US customs at a border crossing??
See the link I posted just below your post here. That's the form that needs to be filled out.
 

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Boatpoker, The owner says he has the documentation you are talking about. Do I get a bill of sale and the documentation with his signature and take that somewhere to get the de-listing letter. Is this done at US customs at a border crossing??
You need a bill of sale from the owner and only he can request the de-listing letter from the USCG.

... Nothing to do with US Customs. When you land in Canada (road or water)
You will have to show the bill of sale and that is what your tax will be paid on.
Don't fudge the numbers on the bill of sale, they will often check, Yacht World, Craigs List, Ebay etc. to see if the price is kosher. If the boat was built in a NAFTA country you will only pay sales tax. If the boat is a non-NAFTA boat you will pay sales tax and duty. Customs is not interested in your de-listing letter, that comes into play when you license/register in Canada
 

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Boatpoker, The owner says he has the documentation you are talking about. Do I get a bill of sale and the documentation with his signature and take that somewhere to get the de-listing letter. Is this done at US customs at a border crossing??
Here are the instructions for de-listing:

http://www.uscg.mil/nvdc/instr/inst%20deletion.pdf

The first thing I would do if I were you would be to call the NVDC, explain your situation and ask them what you need to do. I've called them several times and they have been very helpful. And I haven't even had to wait on hold for very long :D

NVDC contact info including phone:

USCG National Vessel Documentation Center - POC Page
 

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The boat I boat a year ago was documented with the USCG. I received a USCG bill of sale from the broker. This is the form:

http://www.uscg.mil/nvdc/forms/cg1340.pdf

The Coast Guard doesn't fill it out, they provide the form and the seller (or in my case the broker) fills it out. I believe you need this if the vessel is USCG documented and there is no state registration.
That is an online form that you may download and use if you wish
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Thanks for the replies. I have read all the pertinent information I think and I guess the first thing I need to do is find out if there is a lien or mortgage on the boat That is called the Abstract of Title and the fee is $15. Then if that's OK I get the owner to fill out form 1340 which is the Bill of Sale and the owner mails it with the original coast guard document to the National Vessel Documentation Center in West Virginia. Then it is delisted and either I or the owner gets something that tells me I am now the current owner. Anyways, I will call Monday morning and hopefully all will go well. Why do owners register there pleasure boats when it isn't necessary. Change of address and change of port and change of ownership all involve fees and paper work.
 

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Why do owners register there pleasure boats when it isn't necessary. Change of address and change of port and change of ownership all involve fees and paper work.
there are some slight differences in the US but in Canada registration is proof of ownership while a license is not. If you cruise Canadian and US waters the license is fine but if you head into the Caribbean with a licensed boat it can be very difficult as most other countries do not recognized a "license".

You can also get "marine mortage" on a registered vessel but not on a licensed vessel (in Canada).
 

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Thanks for the replies. I have read all the pertinent information I think and I guess the first thing I need to do is find out if there is a lien or mortgage on the boat That is called the Abstract of Title and the fee is $15. Then if that's OK I get the owner to fill out form 1340 which is the Bill of Sale and the owner mails it with the original coast guard document to the National Vessel Documentation Center in West Virginia. Then it is delisted and either I or the owner gets something that tells me I am now the current owner. Anyways, I will call Monday morning and hopefully all will go well. Why do owners register there pleasure boats when it isn't necessary. Change of address and change of port and change of ownership all involve fees and paper work.
As boatpoker said, if you travel to another country you probably need the documentation. Also, some states don't require state registration of documented vessels, so it saves you the hassle of renewing your state registration every year.
 
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