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Old 10-14-2018, 10:23 PM   #1
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Documentation VS registration Washington State

The time has come for us to determine if we Document the boat or Register it with Washington state DOL.

Im confused maybe someone can shed some light on the issue.

What are the benefits of Documenting the boat and is it the Coast Guard that does it ? and cost verses going to DOL and paying ~ .005 each year of the purchase price ?
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Old 10-14-2018, 10:24 PM   #2
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We are purchasing from out of Washington State and the tonnage is 10 ton.
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Old 10-14-2018, 10:35 PM   #3
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From a registration fees with Washington State point of view, itís a wash. If the boat remains in Washington, you get to pay the same Wa registration fee either way. Only difference there is whether you display WN numbers, not whether you register.

Documenting costs you additional fees, what it gets a lender is a more reliable and predictable mechanism to manage liens and therefore ownership on a vessel. Itís a better mechanism for demonstrating a clean title.
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Old 10-14-2018, 10:50 PM   #4
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From a registration fees with Washington State point of view, it’s a wash. If the boat remains in Washington, you get to pay the same Wa registration fee either way. Only difference there is whether you display WN numbers, not whether you register.

Documenting costs you additional fees, what it gets a lender is a more reliable and predictable mechanism to manage liens and therefore ownership on a vessel. It’s a better mechanism for demonstrating a clean title.
Sounds like if I'm my main concern is to save money and there is no lien on the vessel, I should just register with the state and not document.
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Old 10-14-2018, 11:09 PM   #5
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From a registration fees with Washington State point of view, it’s a wash. If the boat remains in Washington, you get to pay the same Wa registration fee either way. Only difference there is whether you display WN numbers, not whether you register.

Documenting costs you additional fees, what it gets a lender is a more reliable and predictable mechanism to manage liens and therefore ownership on a vessel. It’s a better mechanism for demonstrating a clean title.
Yes, all true, in addition, if you intend to cruise outside the USA, you need USCG Documentation.
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Old 10-14-2018, 11:42 PM   #6
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Yes, all true, in addition, if you intend to cruise outside the USA, you need USCG Documentation.
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Old 10-15-2018, 07:15 AM   #7
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You actually do not need documentation to cruise Canadian Waters, our cruising partners are not documented. If you are going to be engaged in interstate commerce or just donít want to display the registration numbers itís worth it, otherwise save your money. If you do document remember that the vessel name must be displayed port, stbd and stern and hailing port must be displayed on the stern.
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Old 10-15-2018, 07:42 AM   #8
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You actually do not need documentation to cruise Canadian Waters, our cruising partners are not documented. If you are going to be engaged in interstate commerce or just don’t want to display the registration numbers it’s worth it, otherwise save your money. If you do document remember that the vessel name must be displayed port, stbd and stern and hailing port must be displayed on the stern.
Only on commercial vessels. Recreational vessels need only be marked on the exterior.

The name and hailing port of a recreational vessel must be marked together on some clearly visible exterior part of the hull. The vessel name of a commercial vessel must also be marked on the port and starboard bow and the vessel name and the hailing port must also be marked on the stern
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Old 10-15-2018, 01:54 PM   #9
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I think most of this has been covered, but assuming you are a WA resident, and will keep the boat in WA....


As soon as you enter the state, you are liable for use tax. That's the big cost. And you need to register in WA either way, so no cost difference there. And you will owe annual personal property tax.


Documentation will cost you another $26/year, and give you a more widely recognized chain of title, and perhaps easier international travel, though if Canada will be the extend of your international travels, that part probably doesn't matter much.
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Old 10-15-2018, 02:31 PM   #10
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Registration is dependent not on the location of the purchase but on where the boat is homed by the new owner.
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Old 10-15-2018, 02:58 PM   #11
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If you document you don't have to put numbers on the side of your boat. Ugly numbers. Lots of them. Documentation is aesthetically more pleasing. lol
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Old 10-15-2018, 03:34 PM   #12
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As others have said, USCG documentation wonít save you any money in WA state taxes. It will cost you $26/year to have it USCG documented.

Some lenders require USCG documentation. It may make things easier when getting insurance. No ugly numbers on the bow. The process to renew your documentation is really easy now. My three boats have been documented.
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Old 10-15-2018, 04:15 PM   #13
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As a side note, be aware that if you have a loan on that boat it will take a LONG TIME for the USCG to remove that lien once it's satisfied. While it doesn't prevent you from selling the boat (as long as you have the letter from the bank stating that the lien has been removed), it can make it more complicated.

I paid mine off in April and it still isn't complete. I think they are currently processing requests that they got last December, so it's gonna be awhile.
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Old 10-29-2018, 02:33 PM   #14
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As mentioned you will pay WA tax upon import to the state and WA personal property tax forever. In WA, as in most states with sales and use taxes and personal property taxes payable annually, a state registration is required even if documented (USCG). Documentation is required for financing and recommended for foreign voyages. US state registered only boats seem to be welcome in Canada, don't know about Mexico.
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Old 10-29-2018, 07:44 PM   #15
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As mentioned you will pay WA tax upon import to the state and WA personal property tax forever. In WA, as in most states with sales and use taxes and personal property taxes payable annually, a state registration is required even if documented (USCG). Documentation is required for financing and recommended for foreign voyages. US state registered only boats seem to be welcome in Canada, don't know about Mexico.

Chose Documentation
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Old 10-30-2018, 12:05 AM   #16
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Need to document plus register or just register. If you stay in WA you should not just document.
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Old 10-30-2018, 05:51 AM   #17
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A documented boat/ship is like a piece of the US. If you're attacked or seized the Navy and Marines can come in and get you. But if you're state registered it's a civil matter. The documentation is the same as a ship, any bank loan has a legal document by the federal government.

Depending on where you dock and travel, sometimes you can avoid the state fees. I'd dock in Oregon for the 1st year. That should negate the sales tax. I haven't been a WA resident since 1983. Then if you used the boat for 9 months before entering WA waters, you're just transferring to another state. A car was 7500 miles.
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Old 10-30-2018, 06:29 AM   #18
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FWIW I did a document ownership change (no name Change) and it took 2 months almost to the day. Not bad.
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Old 10-30-2018, 06:34 AM   #19
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Depending on where you dock and travel, sometimes you can avoid the state fees. I'd dock in Oregon for the 1st year. That should negate the sales tax. I haven't been a WA resident since 1983. Then if you used the boat for 9 months before entering WA waters, you're just transferring to another state. A car was 7500 miles.

The rules are different for cars and boats. A boat, no matter how long you have owned it and kept it elsewhere, is subject to use tax the moment a resident brings it into the state. And if you are a resident, there is no exemption for "visiting" WA, say while transiting from OR to BC. All the visitor exemptions are for visitors, not for residents.
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Old 10-30-2018, 11:03 AM   #20
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The rules are different for cars and boats. A boat, no matter how long you have owned it and kept it elsewhere, is subject to use tax the moment a resident brings it into the state. And if you are a resident, there is no exemption for "visiting" WA, say while transiting from OR to BC. All the visitor exemptions are for visitors, not for residents.
This varies from state to state. Make sure you're not imposing Massachusetts state policy to Washington state.
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