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Old 25-11-2019, 20:36   #1
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Can a State CA vessel be without USCG doc or US Flag?

Situation:
Seller says offering a "1994 California built and documented vessel"
No record found in USCG vessel search by name.
Vessel current location Philippines.

Is it possible a fairly large sailboat is not in USCG database because it is only in California database and hence doesn't carry a US flag?

Yes I do think it is conceivable someone crossed the Pacific without any USCG docs.

Since I am a US citizen Is it possible to establish USCG paperwork for a 1994 vessel by simply filling in Form
CG-1258 and paying my $100 USD

It doesn't even look like I need to attach a lien or ownership search from California or builder certificate.

Note: I have considered the vessel might have been once know under a different name.
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Old 25-11-2019, 20:52   #2
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Re: Can a State CA vessel be without USCG doc or US Flag?

It is quite possible to sail a California registered vessel around the world without any USCG documentation . We did it for four decades.

A state registered boat won't show up in the federal database (unless it is also documented - some states require registration of documented vessels - CA does not). The problem is the loose use of the word "documented". Ask the seller for the number, if it starts with "CF" it is state registered.
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Old 26-11-2019, 06:38   #3
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Re: Can a State CA vessel be without USCG doc or US Flag?

Quote:
Originally Posted by pbmaise View Post
Is it possible a fairly large sailboat is not in USCG database because it is only in California database and hence doesn't carry a US flag?
Last time I checked, California is one of the "United" States. So the national ensign it would carry would be the US flag. But I don't think you're asking about flag etiquette.

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Originally Posted by pbmaise View Post
Since I am a US citizen Is it possible to establish USCG paperwork for a 1994 vessel by simply filling in Form CG-1258 and paying my $100 USD?
Yes. But whichever state the boat resides in (for lack of a better term) is very likely going to want sales, excise or other taxes. Sometimes this is called "registration" and sometimes just called a tax.

While a US documented vessel can not show state registration numbers on the outside, the states can require that you pay if your boat is in the state for more than a certain number of days, which varies by state.

And California is known to be very aggressive about collecting. Be sure you have ample proof that a boat you purchased there is moved and remains out of state if that's your plan. You are guilty until proven innocent when it comes to state taxes.
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Old 26-11-2019, 08:02   #4
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Re: Can a State CA vessel be without USCG doc or US Flag?

Quote:
Originally Posted by pbmaise View Post
Situation:
Seller says offering a "1994 California built and documented vessel"
No such thing as "California Documented"

My guess is the OP is tossing around a terms without consideration of the meaning it is implying. If I were to guess, it's either a home built, or small custom yard and there is accompanying paperwork attesting to it's pedigree.

My guess is the 'documentation' is more declaring it's build and origin. Such as what you would need to 'title' a boat in many states or to satisfy the Jones Act if you wanted to use the boat for charter operations.
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Old 26-11-2019, 10:49   #5
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Re: Can a State CA vessel be without USCG doc or US Flag?

Why doesn't the seller or broker provide the old docs? I would be very suspicious.

If you want to proceed, you need to get the Hull Identification Number ("HIN") from the seller or whoever is physically in charge of the boat at this time. If boat was built and documented or more likely just registered anywhere in the US, or imported since 1972 then it has a unique HIN. Don't go by the boat name. CA DMV or the CG should find it by HIN.

The HIN is usually molded into the gelcoat on the transom, up high near the deck. On a cat, I don't know.
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Old 26-11-2019, 12:15   #6
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Re: Can a State CA vessel be without USCG doc or US Flag?

Mostly you get protections from the federal government if you go overseas. There are other reasons as well....

https://bluewateryachtsales.com/news...t-your-vessel/

https://www.yachtworld.com/boat-cont...documentation/

https://www.boattrader.com/resources...documentation/
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Old 26-11-2019, 14:53   #7
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Re: Can a State CA vessel be without USCG doc or US Flag?

Thanks for replies and links.

I am learning new nomenclature.

A vessel is registered only if only paperwork is in California.

This type of vessel is indeed "undocumented" and does Not carry the US flag protections.

Yes I read reports that people have indeed wandered far from California using only California registration papers, however this is certainly something I would not do.

Further I don't think it is even possible anymore since I have to carry an international AIS and this comes from the federal government.

I suspect the vessel has not been in California for more than 20 years. Further I am not in California and there are zero plans to sail back into US waters. Therefore,

#1 Still waiting to see actual papers on boat and suspect no renewals were paid to California.

#2 Wondering if there is an unpaid lien on the boat.

#3 Still unsure if State of California would demand any unpaid renewal fees before I could legally flag vessel.

#4 Still have not heard from anyone who has experienced flagging and documenting a vessel that was only registered in a State and never federally flagged.

I am am doing my due diligence and informed the seller, no broker involved, documentation is my number one question.

#5 This is more a local SE Asia directed question to all those who have reflagged their vessel In Langkawi Malaysia. It has to be more about due diligence to understand my risks when it comes time to sell. Most buyers of this vessel likely would reflag into Langkawi or Thailand. I highly doubt it is possible to reflag an unflagged vessel and am curious if anyone has managed to reflag a vessel that was only registered.

In other words it is impossible for this seller in the Philippines to sell his vessel to anyone accept an American. Citizen who has the capacity to flag the vessel. Any other nationality, Americans interested in owning boats in the Philippines are few and far between, would have to accept ownership on the basis of it being undocumented.

And, now I just realized I have a new can of worms to open.

What if the seller isn't American? Can they even legally sell the vessel if they themselves did not update registration into their own name because they couldn't?
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Old 26-11-2019, 15:08   #8
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Re: Can a State CA vessel be without USCG doc or US Flag?

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...#4 Still have not heard from anyone who has experienced flagging and documenting a vessel that was only registered in a State and never federally flagged...
This and #5 are all actually pretty simple. There is no real difficulty in documenting a formerly registered vessel. It really is as simple as filling out the paperwork and sending in the fee.

With one BIG caveat - you have to be able to prove ownership. Documentation is not just "registration" of your vessel at the federal level, it is also your title/proof of ownership. So the feds will want proof that you own the boat and no one else has a claim. The older the boat the harder this becomes.

California is a title state - i.e. the vessel registration also includes the title/proof of ownership. If the boat registration in CA has been kept current then this is much simpler. If the boat registration has not been kept current.... I'd get on the phone with the NVDC (they are very friendly and quite knowledgeable) and start asking them what would suffice as proof. [Edit] Even if not current the title is still a valid title, but proving that there is no other claim becomes more difficult[/edit]

For your other questions, flagging/reflagging a vessel is usually not that hard but it depends on the country. With the US you have to show ownership (as discussed above) and you have to be a US citizen (with some workarounds). Most other countries are similar, some easier, some harder. In all cases (except maybe some flags-of-convenience places) the toughest hurdle is showing that you own the boat and there are no liens - and this is where USCG documentation helps as they provide a clearinghouse for that information once the boat is documented.
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Old 27-11-2019, 09:16   #9
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Re: Can a State CA vessel be without USCG doc or US Flag?

If it is a California vessel, good chance it may have been in Mexico and had a TIP which the prevoius owner needs to cancel with the Mexican government or you’ll run into a nightmare trying to get a new TIP even if it has expired.
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Old 27-11-2019, 09:47   #10
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Re: Can a State CA vessel be without USCG doc or US Flag?

Does it have CF numbers on the bow?

All and all doesn’t seem like a big deal, think the USCG takes registrations just the same for documenting a vessel, just be sure not to get sucked into paying tax in CA when you buy it, that state burns through other people’s money like crazy and are always trying to get more.

Just curious, what “protections” real world does my boat being documented get me?
Seems the USCG still blows through the 4th amendment just the same registered or documented, I doubt I’d get a scramble of F16s super sonic if I said I was being followed by some sketchy locals in or something. Aside from not having to deal with state registration or putting state numbers and stickers all over my boat, I’m not getting the huge real world advantage?
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Old 27-11-2019, 09:55   #11
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Re: Can a State CA vessel be without USCG doc or US Flag?

Quote:
Originally Posted by pbmaise View Post

A vessel is registered only if only paperwork is in California.
Registration is a STATE concept in the US. The vessel can be registered in ANY state.

Quote:
Originally Posted by pbmaise View Post
Further I don't think it is even possible anymore since I have to carry an international AIS and this comes from the federal government.
IT? Do you mean to travel internationally without Documenting the vessel?

Quote:
Originally Posted by pbmaise View Post
I suspect the vessel has not been in California for more than 20 years. Further I am not in California and there are zero plans to sail back into US waters. Therefore,

#3 Still unsure if State of California would demand any unpaid renewal fees before I could legally flag vessel.
No, if the registration was not paid it was not renewed. This is no different than a automobile registration.

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Originally Posted by pbmaise View Post
#4 Still have not heard from anyone who has experienced flagging and documenting a vessel that was only registered in a State and never federally flagged.
These are somewhat mutually exclusive topics. Federal documentation really applies to the TITLE of the vessel. If you register the boat in a state that titles, then you also title the boat in that state UNLESS the boat is documented. IF the boat is documented, then the USCG essentially issues your title.

A Documented boat may still need to be registered if the boat is in that state fro longer than their time period alots. In fact, it is possible to have a documented boat and also have it registered in multiple states. (Documented boats have a sticker, but don't mount registration numbers on the bow).

I am am doing my due diligence and informed the seller, no broker involved, documentation is my number one question.

Quote:
Originally Posted by pbmaise View Post
What if the seller isn't American? Can they even legally sell the vessel if they themselves did not update registration into their own name because they couldn't?
Registration has nothing to do with ownership. If the boat is titled, it needs to be transferred.
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Old 27-11-2019, 09:57   #12
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Re: Can a State CA vessel be without USCG doc or US Flag?

I would definitely hire a marine escrow company to search the possibility of state liens on the boat for unpaid taxes. Converting a state title to a documented status is done all the time. And vice a versa. I was involved in the opposite transfer because my friend purchased a documented boat but was not a citizen so he had to get a state title. There is no need to be an American to get a state title. To clear the air documentation is federal registration and title. They say it on the website. All you have to do is have the seller sign off on the CA title and it's done, just like buying a car provided the title is free and clear. Selling a documented boat is a little more complicated.
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Old 27-11-2019, 10:07   #13
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Re: Can a State CA vessel be without USCG doc or US Flag?

Quote:
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I would definitely hire a marine escrow company to search the possibility of state liens on the boat for unpaid taxes. Converting a state title to a documented status is done all the time. And vice a versa. I was involved in the opposite transfer because my friend purchased a documented boat but was not a citizen so he had to get a state title. There is no need to be an American to get a state title. To clear the air documentation is federal registration and title. They say it on the website. All you have to do is have the seller sign off on the CA title and it's done, just like buying a car provided the title is free and clear. Selling a documented boat is a little more complicated.
Between what it says on the CA title and calling CA DMV couldn’t you get all that info without spending money to hire people?

Its been a few years, but I bought and sold cars in CA without needing escrow and DMV is DMV

Check here
https://www.dmv.ca.gov/portal/dmv/detail/vr/vr
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Old 27-11-2019, 10:37   #14
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Re: Can a State CA vessel be without USCG doc or US Flag?

Related question:
I've got CA registration on my boat, currently. If I document it with the USCG, I'll still have to pay state taxes while I'm in CA. But what about when I leave CA/US waters? Any taxes due whilst cruising away from home?

And how would they know (how would I prove) I'm gone?
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Old 27-11-2019, 12:55   #15
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Re: Can a State CA vessel be without USCG doc or US Flag?

A state registration will invalidate a USCG documentation. You can't have both. States that have a personal property tax on boats usually require a boat owner to sort of "register" by signing in with the state tax authorities and afixing a decal on the boat to to let state revenue people know you are aware of the tax laws.

If you have state numbers and letters on your bow and are a also USCG documented vessel, your USCG documentation is invalid. The USCG will not tell you this because they have no way of knowing. But they will continue to send you renewal notices for the documentation fee. If you have an accident or some other calamity befalls you investigators and lawyers will find out that your US documentation has been invalid which my negate any protections you once had under maritime and international law.
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