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Old 11-04-2019, 06:53   #1
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Documentation

I need to get my sailboat (Cal 34) registered in California. We have Coast Guard documentation that we accidentally let lapse and now we need to get it re-registered. My question is is it better to do it through the Coast Guard or should I just go to the DMV? The Coast Guard said it will take two months to get the new certificate and that seems really long. I think I could go into the DMV and do it same day. Is there any benefit to getting the Coast Guard documentation? Or should I just grin and bear it at the DMV and get it same day?
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Old 11-04-2019, 07:07   #2
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Re: Documentation

Not either or, even if Documented CA wants its pound of flesh.

If you're staying in NA waters, CA alone will do.

Going far offshore, need to get USCG renewed as well.
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Old 11-04-2019, 07:13   #3
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Re: Documentation

You are conflating 2 separate registrations. One is Federal the other is State.

USCG Documentation is registration of a vessel with the USCG. It is not required, but it is certainly preferential if you travel internationally.

Even if you have USCG Documentation...you must register the boat in your state (with the DMV mostly for tax purposes).
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Old 11-04-2019, 07:19   #4
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Re: Documentation

NO, California requires EITHER documentation or registration and DOES NOT ALLOW both.
If you go to the DMV they will need proof you paid "use tax" on purchase and when was the last time you "walked" into a DMV office ? I tried to make an appointment last month and the next one available was July 22.
Renew the documentation.
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Old 11-04-2019, 07:47   #5
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Re: Documentation

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Originally Posted by Calif.Ted View Post
NO, California requires EITHER documentation or registration and DOES NOT ALLOW both.
If you go to the DMV they will need proof you paid "use tax" on purchase and when was the last time you "walked" into a DMV office ? I tried to make an appointment last month and the next one available was July 22.
Renew the documentation.


I know! Walking in will likely be a three or four hour wait. Thatís why am weighing my options. Thanks for the tax info. Kicking myself for missing the renewal in the first place.
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Old 11-04-2019, 07:56   #6
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Re: Documentation

CA is an odd state then, most that require registration (for tax / fees) don't exempt USCG Documented boats.

Some states don't require boats to be registered, depends on size, powered or not etc.

And every state I've lived in, only way to deal with DMV is to show up and wait in line, yes a PITA but NBD.

In Vermont, usually five clerks waiting at the counter, happy to see a customer walk in.
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Old 11-04-2019, 08:15   #7
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Re: Documentation

I went to the Riverside, Ca. DMV a few months ago to transfer and register a new to me used dinghy. Five minutes or less in the welcome line and finished and out the door less than 20 minuets later. What a difference from years past.
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Old 11-04-2019, 08:32   #8
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Re: Documentation

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I went to the Riverside, Ca. DMV a few months ago to transfer and register a new to me used dinghy. Five minutes or less in the welcome line and finished and out the door less than 20 minuets later. What a difference from years past.


Thatís reassuring! Iíll let you all know how it goes
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Old 11-04-2019, 09:19   #9
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Re: Documentation

California is an either/or state, doesn't affect taxes, at purchase buyer is responsible for "use tax" to the state at the same rate as "sales tax" in county of purchase. This is about 9-10 %, annually the county where boat is located will bill for "unsecured property tax" to owner of record on Jan.1. On a state registered boat "use tax" is collected by DMV on behalf of FTB. On a documented vessel the buyer is responsible for sending the "use tax" to them. If you don't they WILL send you a bill for the "use tax" plus penalties and interest 2, 3 or 5 years after the purchase.
Some think the "use tax" has been paid at closing in a brokerage sale or when using a documentation service or they slipped thru the cracks. Nobody is exempt and no one "slips thru the cracks" forever.
The DMV will require you to pay the tax or prove you already paid, bring your checkbook they don't take credit cards if you haven't paid.
You might have to drive to Riverside, San Clemente office has lines around the block.
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Old 11-04-2019, 11:09   #10
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Re: Documentation

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Originally Posted by Calif.Ted View Post
California is an either/or state, doesn't affect taxes, at purchase buyer is responsible for "use tax" to the state at the same rate as "sales tax" in county of purchase. This is about 9-10 %, annually the county where boat is located will bill for "unsecured property tax" to owner of record on Jan.1. On a state registered boat "use tax" is collected by DMV on behalf of FTB. On a documented vessel the buyer is responsible for sending the "use tax" to them. If you don't they WILL send you a bill for the "use tax" plus penalties and interest 2, 3 or 5 years after the purchase.
Some think the "use tax" has been paid at closing in a brokerage sale or when using a documentation service or they slipped thru the cracks. Nobody is exempt and no one "slips thru the cracks" forever.
The DMV will require you to pay the tax or prove you already paid, bring your checkbook they don't take credit cards if you haven't paid.
You might have to drive to Riverside, San Clemente office has lines around the block.


Thank you! Good advice about bringing my checkbook. Iíll be going somewhere in Los Angeles. I know some DMVís are much better than others so we will see!
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Old 11-04-2019, 12:16   #11
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Re: Documentation

Be careful about Cali. If the boat has been living there, you need to check the state laws on registration and tax. Even if they don't require registration for a documented vessel, if you let that lapse more than 90 days, Cali might say "Oh, you should have registered sooner, here's the penalty and interest charge." Similar words if use tax should have been paid and wasn't.

Whatever it is, it is. But find out ahead of time, because sometimes you say a casual word to the clerk like "Oh, yeah, it lapsed four months ago" and the clerk will seize on the timing and decide to try getting those penalties applied. Ignoring what's fair or legal...you just don't want to give them an opportunity. Cali is notorious for enforcing tax collections for imaginary reasons.
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Old 13-04-2019, 16:21   #12
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Re: Documentation

So just want to follow up in case someone needs this info later: I went to the Inglewood DMV in LOS Angeles at noon on Friday. Made it through the line in 2 hours - which made me pretty happy. Everything was going great until I realized the boat is registered in my husbandís name and his signature was needed. Argh! But - aside from that it would have worked. Fee is $80 and I used the expired Coast Guard documentation as proof of ownership. I will keep you posted about my next visit.
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Old 15-04-2019, 07:31   #13
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Re: Documentation

lapse--- 84 usd and a slight wait unless you are out of country in which case the wait is shorter. make sure you have a receipt so you can prove you did it. best o luck. this happens.
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Old 15-04-2019, 07:57   #14
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Re: Documentation

I get cars and boats registered with DMV titled to "Me or my wife" that way only one of us need to be present to sell etc.
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Old 19-04-2019, 12:16   #15
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Re: Documentation

OP final follow-up to this thread. My husband went to the Long Beach DMV to register the boat. He waited in line for 3 1/2 hours (!) and was told that he cannot register with the California DMV until the Coast Guard released the vessel. Argh!!!

Sooooo we remembered that when we initially bought the boat in 2016 we use a documentation service to transfer the ownership. We contacted that service and they are renewing our registration with the Coast Guard for us for an additional fee. Wish we had thought of this earlier! The good news is they will provide us with a letter explaining our documentation is in process so that we can use if we want to go sail to another marina or Catalina while we are waiting for our paperwork.

So lessons learned here - donít let your boat registration expire if youíre with the Coast Guard. Also, if your boat was initially registered with the Coast Guard you canít just registered with the California DMV without having the Coast Guard release your documentation.

I guess the good news is we finally finished refinishing our teak this week...

Fair winds to all!
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