When documenting your vessel, you have two choices in the US: Coast Guard Documentation or State Registration. As a US citizen, I found it easiest to go with the Coast Guard Registration. That also makes it easier to travel to foreign countries if you’re ever thinking of doing that. As of 2016, it cost $133 for the initial registration, then $26 yearly after that.
- Here is a discussion on choosing USCG vs State Registration: http://www.cruisersforum.com/forums/f57/uscg-vs-us-state-registration-for-customs-119202.html.
- If you would like more information directly from the source, go to the US Coast Guard site at: http://www.uscg.mil/hq/cg5/nvdc/nvdcforms.asp. It has links to the:
- Registration Instructions
- Initial Registration Form: CG-1258 Application For Initial Issue, Exchange, Or Replacement Of Certificate Of Documentation; Redocumentation
- The Renewal Form: CG-1280 Renewal of Certificate Of Documentation
- CG-7042 Credit Card Form
- And more.
US Coast Guard Registration Renewal at www.pay.gov (My personal preference):
Go to www.pay.gov and search for “USCG Renewal”. As of 2016, the correct form was DHSCGATP. It’s very simple and intuitive, no pdfs or printing required. Just fill out the boxes, clicking the Continue button through the payment section (Bank account, Debit or Credit card payments only) to the Submit and Confirmation sections. Done. I received my new Registration Certificate 27 days after clicking Submit.
US Coast Guard Registration Renewal by email:
Renewing registration with the Coast Guard is also simple, but requires filling out a PDF document for renewal and a second form for credit card payment. The form CG-1258 has an email address listed, so once the form is completed, email it back with a completed CG-7042 Credit Card Form.
US Coat Guard Email Reminders:
Check out the E-Renewal feature on the left menu at http://www.uscg.mil/hq/cg5/nvdc/nvdcforms.asp. I filled in a quick form with my Postal Code, USCG Official Number from my old Certificate of Documentation and my email address. They sent me an email with a verification link. The link brought me to the USCG site with the statement “If there are any problems associating your information with your vessel(s), you will be notified by email at the supplied address.” I am now set up to receive yearly email reminders to renew my vessel registration.
USCG Registration Renewal Notes:
Early renewal is allowed per the FAQs on the website, but note that the expiration date is from the date you renew.