- - Just to amplify a few of the excellent points by HUD3 - If your boat is large enough to qualify for USCG Documentation
- all you need is a bill of sale
(and past documentation information if the vessel was previously USCG documented) and then fill out the USCG forms available from their internet
website. That makes you "ready" for international cruising.
- - Individual States inside the USA have one or two variations of their "Registration of Vessels" procedures. Without USCG Documentation you "Register" "the boat with the State normally the same as you would Register an automobile and you get a State Number (e.g. "FL3920C") that is affixed to your bow and you receive a "Title" for the boat from the State.
- - If you are USCG Documented there is a variation of State "Registration" where you do not get a "Title" but you do get a little "Decal" that must be affixed to the port side of your boat so it is visible. Your ownership
proof is the USCG Documentation and the State will use that number to reference your vessel in their system.
- - If you never use the vessel in US Waters technically you do not need either variation of State registration. However, if you do use the US vessel in US waters for -any- length of time and are boarded/inspected by local marine authorities they will want to see proof that you have "registered" or are registering in some State and it should be where your drivers license
or other identification show you are "living." I seriously doubt there is a State that will waive a US vessel in US waters without some kind of proof of a State registration (that means some government
got some money
from you). It is easiest to do it during the purchasing
process. In Florida
the "registration" fee for my 50' vessel 10 years ago was US$60/year; last year it went up to US$88/year; and (oh, my god) this year it jumped to US$270/year - just looked, ouch! Maybe I will start shopping
around for a better State myself. But if you do that - see the other threads - it involves shifting all your various "links" (e.g., drivers licenses, banking address; tax address; etc.) to the new State. That just may not be cost-effective when everything is added up.