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Old 03-28-2016, 04:55 PM   #1
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Bureaucracy Induced Venting

Ok--I bought a boat that was in Canada in late December.
The difficult task of having the USCG assign me a documentation number now takes 5 months.
I need an MMSI number for the new radio.
If I am traveling in other countries (Canada) I'm not supposed to get it thru Boat US, Power Squadron or the USCG-Aux but straight from the FCC.

The website is not an easy place to be. I got my FCC registration Number.
Then got lost in the website.
Called the FCC-on hold 10 minutes before they hung up on me.
Next person didn't know what an MMSI was but was kind enough to transfer me to someone who did. She emailed me more instructions where I got to use my new FRN to log in.

Go thru a lot of entry pages then get to the point where they want my USCG documentation number....you remember...the one that takes 5 months. The one that I don't have yet!! And...the fee for registering for whatever I'm registering for is $215.
I think this is because I can't find the 40 year old, little brown card that says "Radiotelephone Operator License" on it and I'm not currently in their database.

Result--good portion of a day wasted, no USCG documentation number means no MMSI number even if I pay the $215.

Over And Out!!
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Old 03-28-2016, 05:05 PM   #2
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Who ever did your paper work should be able to give you traveling papers that will be acceptable by all.
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Old 03-28-2016, 05:08 PM   #3
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The MMSI probably has nothing to do wit your Restricted Operators Permit...sorry you can't find yours...glad I still have mine from the early 80s.

Waiting till it is straightened out is no big deal....I have never been asked for anything but proof of ownership....let alone radio license.

As long as you have some l ed git traveling docs, don't sweat it and just keep on top of the process.
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Old 03-28-2016, 05:43 PM   #4
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I've traveled to Canada many yrs and haven't bothered w/ FCC license since they did away w/ the reqm't in the US - Never had a problem - never been asked.
I also worried about operating boat before I rec'd my USCG Doc #...
I kept copies of the application and figured I'd show my attempt to comply but couldn't do anything about the delay...never stopped / asked

I wouldn't worry... never heard of anyone being charged when they tried to comply - anyone w/ different experience I'd love to hear about it.
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Old 03-28-2016, 05:59 PM   #5
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If I recall the process to get the MMSI, it doesn't require the documentation number. That number is optional as documenting a vessel is optional. You do need a state registration number for the radio station license application. I don't know what that costs in Texas, but you can probably get in a day or so. Once the vessel is documented you can submit a change to the FCC using this:


Making Changes During Your License Term


If you change your mailing address, legal name, or ship name, you must complete FCC Form 605 for Administrative Update. There is no fee required. No action is required when you add or replace a transmitter that operates in the same frequency band.
Send your completed form to:
Federal Communications Commission
1270 Fairfield Road
Gettysburg, PA 17325-7245

To change your ship official number or state registration number, you must submit a request by letter to:
Federal Communications Commission
1270 Fairfield Road
Gettysburg, PA 17325-7245

IMPORTANT NOTE: The procedures described above for making changes to your license DO NOT apply if you are selling your vessel. In those circumstances, see the information described below under “What to Do If Selling Your Ship."

Tom
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Old 03-28-2016, 07:42 PM   #6
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I feel your pain. It reminds me of total hassle I went thru to get my new to me vessel documented. My pre-purchase survey noted that the state registration had the wrong hull number. The boat was originally documented thirty years ago it OH. At that time, they made the mistake on the hull number. The number ----M82--- was interpreted as M32. If you look at the molded in number you can see that the 8 digit was tipped slightly with the left side hard to see but the right side considerably deeper. I could see that it was an easy mistake to make, but the hull number also had another three digit. The font wast different. The real three had a flat straight stroke at the top and a straight diagonal stroke, with a curved loop at the bottom. The eight mistaken as a three was two half elipses. The PO never updated the documentation, and merely registered with the sate of TN. No big deal I thought, after all, the M represents month of mfg. (December) and the following two digits represent year, per the USCG numbering standard. Surely my fiberglass boat was not mfg in 1932. I had hired a documentation guy to handle the paperwork as this was my first documented boat, and wanted it taken care of without a hassle. That was probably the best $300 i ever spent. I explained this to him at the beginning, and he said no problem he would take care of it. I don't live in TN (PO's home) My state must have the Documentation before they can register it as a documented vessel. The documentation guy submits all the paperwork and I wait 8 weeks. He calls me and says the CG needs another photo of the hull number. I explain te boat is 400 miles from my home, and it will be a month before I get down there. A month later I take another picture, and then smear shave cream over it and wipe it off with damp paper towel to accentuate the number, I take a second photo and send both to him. Six weeks pass, and I hear from him again, this time they want a pencil rubbing. I do that next trip south, and send it to him. six weeks later, I hear from him again, this time, he sends me more paperwork, and says I need to sign and get it and get it notarized. I do. Six weeks later he says now they requesting a updated number on me state registration certificate. I explained as I am sure he already knew that the CG insists they are superior to state registration, and in fact the state will not register without the CG documentation first.
I go to the state and ask: Can you please register my undocumented boat. This will cost me roughly a hundred more than a documented one. And won't you please let me pay a couple thousand in sales tax. At this point, I just want to move on. I explain the hull number issue and show her all of my backup documentation as to the error. She says: I'm sorry I can't help you, you need to back to the state that it was last registered in, as It is their mistake to fix. I explain it was not their mistake either. The mistake happened nearly thirty years ago in yet another state. She offered to call the state capital, After 45 minutes on the phone, she offered the phone to me to make my case. In the end they said sorry can't help. You need to go to the Coast Guard. AT that point I admitted I had but they were differing to state to act first. Sorry, your out of luck. I call the documentation guy back again, totally frustrated. He said let me think about for a bit. He calls me the next day, with an idea. He says some states are more fussy about boat registration than others then says: If you look at a map of the US, the States that don't touch any significant water, tend to be easier to register in. He says for an extra hundred bucks maybe he could maybe get the boat registered there. I told him to find one that doesn't charge sales tax on a used boat purchase. He did and I got my state registration a month later for the hundred plus fifty for the registration. I got my Documentation a month after that. Next season, I registered in my home state. By the way, my home state doesn't charge sales tax on property you already own, registered in another state. CHA CHING!
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Old 03-28-2016, 07:52 PM   #7
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While we're venting...

Back in December, the 20th to be exact, I had a document notarized so that I could submit it for my documentation. Long story short, I needed to change something on it, so it wasn't a straight renewal.

I dutifully signed and dated the document in the presence of the Notary, and she did her thing. I sent the whole mess off before Christmas.

I heard nothing until March 18th, when I got a notice saying my application was denied. This came Friday afternoon, so I couldn't do anything about it until Monday.

It turns out they thought I'd signed and dated it AFTER the Notary signed and stamped it. Apparently I'd smudged the "0" in "20", making it look like I'd signed it on the 26th.

At this point, I was not about to argue. I needed that documentation for a trip this spring. Having done the submission myself, I don't have an agent's letter or anything like that to show.

Still, while I had them on the phone, I mentioned, as politely as I could, that after all, the Notary won't notarize a blank document, and it's clear it was just a smudge.

The lady at the Vessel Documentation Center (who are always very nice, by the way) said "Oooo, you know that's what they're SUPPOSED to do..." and went on to suggest that the Notaries can't be trusted to follow the rules.

HUH??? If you can't trust the Notary, why did you make me - TWICE - go get this stuff notarized?

Thanks. I feel better now.
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Old 03-28-2016, 07:54 PM   #8
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I'm not "worried" about it-I'm irritated.
I have been told that many people get the Boat U.S. MMSI number and have no problems in Canada.

What pisses me off is that I try to do it "the right way" and it is much more complex, much more expensive and much more a PITA than just ignoring it or taking the short cuts. Nothing that the government touches is simple or straightforward.
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Old 03-29-2016, 12:24 AM   #9
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It's definitely a catch-22, and I went through the same thing with my boat. I ended up using the HIN for the FCC ships station license rather than the documentation number.

You can also request expedited processing of your documentation, but it's still a crap shoot how long it will take. I think it's really inexcusable that new documentation and ownership changes take so long, but nobody at teh USCG seems to care what I think. I can't imagine why :-)
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Old 03-29-2016, 09:05 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ktdtx View Post
What pisses me off is that I try to do it "the right way" and it is much more complex, much more expensive and much more a PITA than just ignoring it or taking the short cuts.

Nothing that the government touches is simple or straightforward.
Agree on both points

I looked into doing it the "right' way and decided that - due to your second point - I would meet the "spirit" vs the "letter" of the law...

and not get all worked up about it... venting also helps
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Old 03-29-2016, 09:24 AM   #11
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I believe that some of the confusion and difficulties derive from where you plan on boating. If outside US Waters you must enter a different data base on items like your epirbs for international search and rescue. I had no problem with the FCC and found them to be rather quick (4 days) in providing the MMSI/Station License. Of course that was with a doc. # already in place. Good luck.
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Old 03-29-2016, 01:23 PM   #12
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You can also request expedited processing of your documentation, but it's still a crap shoot how long it will take. I think it's really inexcusable that new documentation and ownership changes take so long, but nobody at teh USCG seems to care what I think. I can't imagine why :-)
After the fiasco I posted above, I requested "priority" (expedited) handling. On the VDC web site it explains what sorts of things qualify, and how to write the request. They said to call in a week to see whether it had been approved for priority handling.

I never had to call back. The documentation came, USPS first class, in less than a week.

The three times I had called, I was connected relatively quickly to a helpful, courteous person who spoke fluent English.

They process the paperwork in the order received. They list on their web site which submission date they are working on each week.

Frankly, I don't know any other Government, and very few private, organizations which offer that level of service.

They do process commercial documents ahead of recreational. Given a limited budget (like the rest of the CG), I can't really blame them on that.

And this is coming from a guy who's still a little peeved about the whole smudge thing.
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Old 03-30-2016, 08:51 PM   #13
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Well, it might stray into politics, but I think if regulations are imposed on something, the gov responsible has an obligation to handle their side of it in a timely manner. A week or two would be ok, but 6 months? Come on. Even in Mass which I consider to be one of the worst run bureaucracies, things like registrations get processed in a week or two.
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