Most everyone knows that there are two ways to register a boat. The first and most common way is to register your boat with the state department of motor vehicles (DMV). This method is commonly used for boats under about 30′. With a boat that is registered with the DMV you need to put the state registration numbers on the bow with your current tags and you are good to go.
When it comes to larger powerboats (5 net tons or more), most owners choose to “document” their boats with the US Coast Guard. Documentation has several advantages for larger boats that we won’t get into, but going this route comes with its own set of requirements.
In order for your boat to be legally documented you need a couple things. First you’ll need to put the boat name and hailing port TOGETHER on the boat in a clearly readable font with letters that are at least 4” tall.
While most are familiar with the first requirement, many don’t know about “Internal Documentation”. Internal documentation refers to the requirement of the vessel’s USCG documentation numbers to be permanently affixed to the boat by painting, engraving, welding or attaching an engraved placard to the inside of the hull. Those cheap vinyl “sticker” numbers won’t work here.
Most people choose to do their interior documentation with the engraved plaque method. In the old days this would be a wood carved sign that was screwed into a bulkhead and stringer. Nowadays, it’s most common for this placard to be made from starboard.
For our recent project boat, we turned to the Starboard experts at Boat Outfitters. They quickly knocked out an awesome looking Documentation Board and had it on our door step in a couple days.
You can get all the info here boatoutfitters.com.
For $70 and a few minutes of your time, you can make your boat legal and pass inspections with flying colors the next time the Coasties check your boat!