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Old 01-15-2022, 05:38 PM   #1
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Questions from a total newb, USCG registration? Radio licenses?

In reading some of these threads about whether or not to use escrow services, brokers, etc.. some things have come to my attention that with my old 29 foot sailboat either weren't issues, or I was unwittingly running illegally.

I'm hoping to buy a FSBO 40 foot Albin, from Florida. Are all trawlers USCG registered? Just boats over a certain size? Only if you leave US waters? Also I saw mention of transferring radio license numbers. I'm used to just the normal marine radio, talk to marinas and bridges, other boaters, etc.. Am I missing something? I just want to be sure I have every T crossed and I dotted when (if) this deal goes through. Boat is in Florida, I live in NC.
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Old 01-15-2022, 06:42 PM   #2
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Much is about what you need for DSC in new vhs radios and AIS. And EPIRBS.

Start here perhaps.

https://www.milltechmarine.com/About-MMSI_ep_69.html
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Old 01-15-2022, 06:42 PM   #3
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Boats are not registered with the CG, they are documented. States register boats. To document a boat it has to be larger than 5 net tons, not a weight measurement but a volume measurement. A 40í boat will be documentable, usually ober 25í or 26í is big enough to be documented. As to whether to document or state register the boat is a personal choice unless you finance the boat, then most banks will require documentation. Documentation is good if you leave the US. Some states will also require you to register documented boats but you can not display the state numbers, just the year sticker.
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Old 01-15-2022, 06:45 PM   #4
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And to add to the above post you need to state register the tender with motor.
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Old 01-15-2022, 06:56 PM   #5
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The documentation process is for a TITLE. You could alternatively TITLE the boat in a state.
You will most likely have to REGISTER the boat in the state it's domiciled and pay the state taxes.


The MMSI number, from the FCC IS transferable to the new owner, but a few hoops to jump thru.
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Old 01-15-2022, 07:10 PM   #6
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Boats are not registered with the CG, they are documented. States register boats. To document a boat it has to be larger than 5 net tons, not a weight measurement but a volume measurement. A 40í boat will be documentable, usually ober 25í or 26í is big enough to be documented. As to whether to document or state register the boat is a personal choice unless you finance the boat, then most banks will require documentation. Documentation is good if you leave the US. Some states will also require you to register documented boats but you can not display the state numbers, just the year sticker.
Ok, so based on the pics of the boat, I need to change documentation, maybe, as I'll buy the boat outright. I didn't see state registration numbers on it, but you're saying I could just do that instead? Is there any benefit one way or the other? Dumb questions I'm sure, but still learning here.
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Old 01-15-2022, 07:17 PM   #7
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If you plan to enter international waters, documentation has significant advantages.

There may be tax savings

May make it easier to finance the purchase.

Don’t need numbers on your bow.
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Old 01-15-2022, 08:01 PM   #8
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If the boat is currently documented you are Not required to document. You decide.
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Old 01-15-2022, 08:18 PM   #9
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As others have said, it is very much a personal decision based on circumstances, locations, costs that can factor into either documenting a vessel with the CG or registering/titling with the state. Also, regardless of a vessel being US documented some states also require registration (not titling and no numbers, but an annual fee and sometimes a decal). Documenting does not relieve one of registering if the boat is principally kept and used in one of those states. For more info on the documentation process and how to transfer a documented vessel from one owner to a new one I suggest going to the source, the USCG National Vessel Documentation Center: https://www.dco.uscg.mil/Our-Organiz...tation-Center/

Regrading radio licensing, that comes under the FCC. For the most part, there is no license requirement for the most common radios found on recreational vessels, VHF-FM. There is info on that here: https://www.fcc.gov/wireless/bureau-...radio-stations

MMSI is somewhat different from licensing and the source of an MMSI can be different depending on whether a vessel is to be operated internationally or only in US waters. Info at: https://boatus.com/products-and-serv...embership/mmsi and here https://www.wikihow.com/Get-an-MMSI-Number
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Old 01-15-2022, 09:03 PM   #10
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As others have said, it is very much a personal decision based on circumstances, locations, costs that can factor into either documenting a vessel with the CG or registering/titling with the state. Also, regardless of a vessel being US documented some states also require registration (not titling and no numbers, but an annual fee and sometimes a decal). Documenting does not relieve one of registering if the boat is principally kept and used in one of those states. For more info on the documentation process and how to transfer a documented vessel from one owner to a new one I suggest going to the source, the USCG National Vessel Documentation Center: https://www.dco.uscg.mil/Our-Organiz...tation-Center/

Regrading radio licensing, that comes under the FCC. For the most part, there is no license requirement for the most common radios found on recreational vessels, VHF-FM. There is info on that here: https://www.fcc.gov/wireless/bureau-...radio-stations

MMSI is somewhat different from licensing and the source of an MMSI can be different depending on whether a vessel is to be operated internationally or only in US waters. Info at: https://boatus.com/products-and-serv...embership/mmsi and here https://www.wikihow.com/Get-an-MMSI-Number
So MMSI is a different type of radio? Not the standard marine radio?
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Old 01-15-2022, 09:11 PM   #11
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As to documentation, if the boat is currently documented then you can easily transfer it to you. Or if you want you can undocument it and have it state registered.

MMSI is not a radio but a number that is issued to you and get entered into your VHF radio. It is there to ID your boat in an emergency. It can be issued by Boat/US or the FCC. If it is a Boat/US issued it will not be entered into international data bases but only in the US.
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Old 01-15-2022, 09:20 PM   #12
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If you plan to enter international waters, documentation has significant advantages.

There may be tax savings

May make it easier to finance the purchase.

Donít need numbers on your bow.
Most lenders require documentation as it allows them to attach a "mortgage" to the boat.
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Old 01-16-2022, 08:35 AM   #13
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So MMSI is a different type of radio? Not the standard marine radio?
Quote:
Originally Posted by Comodave View Post
MMSI is not a radio but a number that is issued to you and get entered into your VHF radio. It is there to ID your boat in an emergency. It can be issued by Boat/US or the FCC. If it is a Boat/US issued it will not be entered into international data bases but only in the US.
And... if you have a GPS source connected to your modern (now pretty much standard) DSC-capable marine VHF radio... an emergency call will transmit your current location.

That'd be a good thing.

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Old 01-16-2022, 11:28 AM   #14
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I recently replaced my older VHF that I could not hook up to my chart plotter to a VHF with built in GPS. Doesn’t cost much more than a standard VHF.
Also got my MMSI number and plugged it into my VHF. In case of emergency, all I have to do is hit the emergency button and my exact position is sent out and my MMSI number identifies me as owner and make/size of boat.
As others have said, most of the time documentation is your choice and state registration is required in most states whether documented or not. I’m in VA, one of the few states where registration is optional for documented boats.
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Old 01-21-2022, 02:48 AM   #15
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A documented vessel is like a part of the US. The Navy and Marines can come to your rescue as if a ship was taken by pirates. A state registered vessel is like having your car stolen, a law enforcement problem.

I learned the difference in the navy many years ago when we retook a yacht seized by pirates in SE Asia. Not many people today can say they fought pirates, but I did.
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Old 01-21-2022, 07:09 AM   #16
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As to documentation, if the boat is currently documented then you can easily transfer it to you. Or if you want you can undocument it and have it state registered.

MMSI is not a radio but a number that is issued to you and get entered into your VHF radio. It is there to ID your boat in an emergency. It can be issued by Boat/US or the FCC. If it is a Boat/US issued it will not be entered into international data bases but only in the US.
Also enterer that number into your AIS transducer. Numbers can be transferred, but the owner must go (in my case) to Boat US and start the transfer. Than, being the NEW owner I had to pay $50 to complete the transfer.

I would do the Documentation your self. Its not hard to do and a lot cheaper.

Keep in mind that you can also send the VHF or AIS unit to the manufacturer and they can wipe out (factory default) the unit. Than you can enter your number in.

Its really a choice, do the transfer and pay $50, send the units in and be with out for 2 to 4 weeks OR buy new units. In my case the VHF was old, so I just bought a new one.
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Old 01-21-2022, 11:58 AM   #17
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The sailboat I recently sold was Documented, and since it was in Michigan, state registered as well so it has state numbers too, just not displayed. New owner opted to go state only, so all he had to do was title it in his name and put the numbers on the bow. He showed me the title application so I know he did that. Last I saw the boat it still didn't have the numbers yet and kind of doubt he'll put them on until forced to but that's on him, not me. As said above, if you're on a state that doesn't register Documented boats, keep the documentation. It's usually cheaper at $26 a year. State registration for a 36 foot boat in Michigan for example is $244 for three years. Some states are cheaper, but probably more than $26. Other than that, there's no real advantage to documentation unless you're going international or your bank requires it.
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Old 01-21-2022, 12:44 PM   #18
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As to radio license, recreational boats as someone else mentioned do not need one. But if you go outside the U.S. you will need one.
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Old 01-21-2022, 12:46 PM   #19
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Many / most? States require documented boats to be registered in the home state. Some don't even issue state #s and those that do they are basically ignored. USCG Doc is equivalent to your title so no state titles issued.
The primary reason for states to require reg is so they can collect sales tax.
Check your state requirements for registering and display. In NY a current registration sticker needs to be displayed but that's all other than meeting Doc reqmts for name & home port display and Doc # prrmanently marked on inside of hull.
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Old 01-21-2022, 03:15 PM   #20
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Is a radio license required for travel into International waters (Mexico) for a vhf? One of the problems with the Internet is that things never go away, all of the threads I can find on the topic are old.

It looks like both a radio license and a radio operators license are required to transmit outside of the US water...
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