The United States Coast Guard is a national vessel documentation body that governs the registration of towboats and vessels heavier than five tons. The NVDC was created to facilitate maritime commerce and availability of financing for marine activities while enforcing marine regulations to protect the economic privileges granted to American citizens. Vessel owners are required to request for a vessel certificate with the NVDC documentation center within their region. Upon a successful certificate application, you are issued with a documentation number for your vessel.
Vessel documentation was introduced as a means of permitting unrestrained trades between states, proving nationality for international trade purposes and restricting vessels to certain trades like fishing and coast wide trades. As such, vessels that are used for coast-wide trades, fishing and those over five net tons must be documented. However, the vessels must be wholly-owned by USA citizens to qualify for NVDC documentation.
Applying for vessel documentation
To apply for a vessel certification, you simply submit your application to the NVDC and attach the appropriate fees. Ensure that you contact the NVDC before making your application payment because certification fees are subject to change. You submit Form CG-1258 that must contain information such as; the IMO number, hull I.D number, your contact information, year of the vessel, specific endorsements you are applying for, horsepower and length of your vessel. Ensure that you fill your form correctly to avoid delays in receiving your registration certificate. You can apply for documentation via fax, email and regular mail.
After receiving your documentation
After your NVDC documentation is processed, you receive your certificate and documentation number and are expected to display your vessel number clearly. According to NVDC, every official vessel documentation number preceded by an acronym NO should be marked in block and Arabic numeral that are at least 3 inches high. They should be embossed on a clearly visible interior structure. Additionally, the official number must be embossed permanently so that replacement or alterations can cause scarring or damage to the interior structure. Note that, you are required to renew your vessel documentation every year.
Just like all national registration procedures, the NVDC documentation can be daunting, and the procedures and requirements may change with time. As such, it is advisable to conduct in-depth research about the registration requirements and applicable fees. It’s advisable to consult with a family member or friend who has acquired the documentation before. Additionally, you could engage legal officers who specialize in marine operations and regulations.