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Old 16-12-2015, 10:07   #16
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Re: USCG documentation vs. state registration

If you are getting a loan to buy the boat they may require USCG registration.
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Old 16-12-2015, 10:08   #17
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Re: USCG documentation vs. state registration

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Originally Posted by denverd0n View Post

The state cannot require you to put registration numbers on the hull, but contrary to what some people mistakenly believe, a state CAN (and many do) require you to register your documented boat.
I might be misunderstanding the sentence above, but this is from Maryland DNR: "Decals must be affixed on each side of the vessel within three inches of the vessel number and may be placed in front of, behind, above, or below the number.If your vessel requires registration, it is illegal to operate it or allow others to operate your vessel unless it is registered and numbered as described above"
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Old 16-12-2015, 10:35   #18
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Re: USCG documentation vs. state registration

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I might be misunderstanding the sentence above, but this is from Maryland DNR: "Decals must be affixed on each side of the vessel within three inches of the vessel number and may be placed in front of, behind, above, or below the number.If your vessel requires registration, it is illegal to operate it or allow others to operate your vessel unless it is registered and numbered as described above"
Perhaps the key phrase is in the last sentence.

"If your vessel requires registration, it is illegal to operate it or allow others to operate your vessel unless it is registered and numbered as described above."

Regardless, by USCG regulations, documented boats cannot show state registration numbers. From this link. USCG National Vessel Documentation Center, Fee Page

" all documented vessels must comply with the laws of the state in which they are operated. The vessel's document must be shown to state law enforcement personnel upon their demand. States may require documented vessels to be registered (but not numbered) and to display state decals showing that they have complied with state requirements."
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Old 16-12-2015, 10:38   #19
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Re: USCG documentation vs. state registration

Use to be a documented vessel can be taken over by the US government in times o war or national emergencies. No compensation required. Not sure that is still the case.
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Old 16-12-2015, 10:47   #20
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Re: USCG documentation vs. state registration

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Use to be a documented vessel can be taken over by the US government in times o war or national emergencies. No compensation required. Not sure that is still the case.
It's still the case, but what are the odds of the Coast Guard needing to supplement their fleet with your sailboat?
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Old 16-12-2015, 11:00   #21
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Re: USCG documentation vs. state registration

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Perhaps the key phrase is in the last sentence.

"If your vessel requires registration, it is illegal to operate it or allow others to operate your vessel unless it is registered and numbered as described above."

Regardless, by USCG regulations, documented boats cannot show state registration numbers. From this link. USCG National Vessel Documentation Center, Fee Page

" all documented vessels must comply with the laws of the state in which they are operated. The vessel's document must be shown to state law enforcement personnel upon their demand. States may require documented vessels to be registered (but not numbered) and to display state decals showing that they have complied with state requirements."
I think what's confusing me is the "..documented boats cannot show state registration numbers." According to the CG doc office this is not accurate. The key to this statement, "States may require documented vessels to be registered (but not numbered)..." is the word "may." If the state doesn't require numbering, then that's it, but if the state requires a decal and numbers then it's required and the law has been followed.
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Old 16-12-2015, 11:01   #22
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Re: USCG documentation vs. state registration

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It's still the case, but what are the odds of the Coast Guard needing to supplement their fleet with your sailboat?
True, that is the gamble we make with documentation. However history does repeat itself, so one never really knows.
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Old 16-12-2015, 11:06   #23
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Re: USCG documentation vs. state registration

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Originally Posted by LeeV View Post
I think what's confusing me is the "..documented boats cannot show state registration numbers." According to the CG doc office this is not accurate. The key to this statement, "States may require documented vessels to be registered (but not numbered)..." is the word "may." If the state doesn't require numbering, then that's it, but if the state requires a decal and numbers then it's required and the law has been followed.
States cannot require a documented boat to display registration numbers. States can require a documented vessel to display the registration decal (the decal that is usually placed next to the numbers and shows that the registration is current). If you walk around the marinas in these states (FL is one of them) you'll see many boats with numbers and decals, and some boats with just the registration decal - those are the documented vessels.
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Old 16-12-2015, 11:20   #24
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Re: USCG documentation vs. state registration

Depending on where you intend to cruise, another consideration is that IF you are a USCG-documented boat and a foreign power wants/intends to board you, showing your USCG documentation will likely stop that action-if they are legite!. A USCG-documented boat is considered US "soil" and the local "authorities" are not allowed/welcome aboard unless you invite them. We cruised in the Philippines for several years.....and that was a real consideration in our decision to document. FWIW
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Old 16-12-2015, 11:36   #25
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Re: USCG documentation vs. state registration

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Depending on where you intend to cruise, another consideration is that IF you are a USCG-documented boat and a foreign power wants/intends to board you, showing your USCG documentation will likely stop that action-if they are legite!. A USCG-documented boat is considered US "soil" and the local "authorities" are not allowed/welcome aboard unless you invite them. We cruised in the Philippines for several years.....and that was a real consideration in our decision to document. FWIW

Sorry but this is absolutely not correct. If you are in the waters of another country they can and will board you no matter what paperwork you have unless you are the USCG or US Navy.

Foreign vessels board first then look at docs. I've been boarded twice that I recall when sailing a documented vessel. Once by the Jamaican coast guard, once in the Bahamas.
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Old 16-12-2015, 11:45   #26
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Re: USCG documentation vs. state registration

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Originally Posted by sailcrazy View Post
Depending on where you intend to cruise, another consideration is that IF you are a USCG-documented boat and a foreign power wants/intends to board you, showing your USCG documentation will likely stop that action-if they are legite!. A USCG-documented boat is considered US "soil" and the local "authorities" are not allowed/welcome aboard unless you invite them. We cruised in the Philippines for several years.....and that was a real consideration in our decision to document. FWIW
Just not true.

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Finally, the third principle is that a vessel in the territorial waters of a state other than its flag state is ordinarily subject to the concurrent jurisdiction [emphasis added] of the coastal state and the flag state; the nature and extent of the coastal state’s jurisdiction vary with the particular circumstances. Warships and other government vessels entitled to sovereign immunity are not subject to this concurrent jurisdiction. Jurisdiction - Chapter 3
Unless operating as a US military vessel your documented boat simply does not fall under the 'sovereign vessel' exemption. In addition, the US has not ratified the 1982 Law of the Sea treaty, so foreign powers may not be bound by that when encountering a US flagged vessel. And the US can (and generally does) waive any 'flag state' exemption when requested by a foreign power. In fact, the US has some standing waivers with a number of countries that allow high seas boarding, not just territorial water boarding of US vessels Ship Boarding Agreements.

You might want to read this on high seas boarding by foreign powers:

http://scholarlycommons.law.hofstra....44&context=hlr

If they can board on the high seas (~international waters) then certainly they can in their own territorial seas.
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Old 16-12-2015, 12:13   #27
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Re: USCG documentation vs. state registration

As far as I know USCG Documentation has nothing to do with most state registration (not in WA anyway) but is a good thing to have for many reasons especially when leaving the country.
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Old 16-12-2015, 12:46   #28
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Re: USCG documentation vs. state registration

Reed-
The Fed has always been creative about keeping lists of "resources" in case they need them in an emergency. They can pretty much confiscate whatever they need, whenever they need it, including males aged 18 to 45, and they've done that more than once.
In terms of documentation somehow magically authorizing their use of your boat....Not that I remember reading. It would be someplace in 10 USC, probably.


Up into the '90s there were a lot of legal benefits and burdens on documented vessels, again, all documented in the US Code. Many of them seem to have disappeared in the decade after that.


Last time I looked, benefits extended to aid and repatriation if necessary for stranded crew, and a few other obscure points, like authorizing the vessel to bring overseas mail inbound to the USPS. If you can convince some foreign post office to give you an envelope that they have cancelled which is addressed inbound to the US? You're authorized to carry it, and to proceed without delay to a USPS facility to expedite that delivery. "Without delay" meaning, you can tell ICE, USCG, and any other nice men with guns to come back later, you're on official business. Honest.


Yes, the laws can be not what we expect...but the USC is available online, that's where you need to do the research on this. It changes as frequently as Congress wants.
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Old 16-12-2015, 13:12   #29
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Re: USCG documentation vs. state registration

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I think what's confusing me...
One thing to remember in all of this, which might help clear up the confusion, is that federal law supersedes state law whenever they are in conflict. So the state of Maryland can pass any law that they like, but if it is in direct conflict with a federal law then the state law automatically becomes null and void.

In this case, if the Maryland law requires you to have numbers even on a documented boat (and it's not clear to me that it does), and the federal law says that no state can require numbers on a documented boat (which it definitely does), then the federal law wins and you can tell Maryland to go get stuffed.

Now, given that this has been the way of things for quite some time, and given that there is a lot of coast line in Maryland, and therefore probably a lot of documented boats, my guess is that Maryland authorities understand perfectly well that they cannot require numbers on a documented boat. Hence, I doubt that it would ever be any kind of an issue. My guess is that, just like in Florida, if you walk the docks you will see plenty of boats with a state sticker, but no state numbers, indicating that they are federally documented.
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Old 16-12-2015, 14:04   #30
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Re: USCG documentation vs. state registration

Sorry Skipmac and Dsanduril, I must beg to differ...our USCG documentation Certificate has prevented foreign agents from boarding us on at least three separate occasions. Once in Manila Bay(by the Philippine Police), once in Subic Bay(by the PI Coast Guard), and once off the Turkish coast(Fetyie Harbor Patrol). In each case they came along side, asked who we were and where we were going, and asked to come aboard. I produced the Documentation Certificate, they asked to see our passports.....and then they left.....Without boarding. When I querried the local Philippine Coast Guard Auxiliary later, THEY told me it was my Cert of USCG Documentation and the fact that it made my boat equivalent to US "soil". Right or wrong.....they did NOT board us. Just saying!
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