Renewing your boat’s U.S. Coast Guard documentation
The Coast Guard can't prevent outside vendors from helping boaters with renewals, but it comes at a cost — private companies typically charge three times more than the U.S. Coast Guard National Vessel Documentation Center (NVDC).
Some of these third-party companies may also send out official-looking letters offering renewal.
A number of boaters have complained that these letters direct them to the same misleading websites. Often, the mailings and websites have no easily discernible disclaimers to warn boaters that they are not dealing with the Coast Guard. Some companies may try to get you to pay for two or even five years of renewals, potentially costing boaters hundreds of dollars more than if they did it themselves.
The Coast Guard has confirmed that third-party businesses do not get priority, and paying extra for any "expedited" service will not get your renewal any faster than dealing directly with NVDC.
To easily renew your vessel documentation, simply go to the U.S. Coast Guard National Vessel Documentation Center website and click on "instructions and forms." Renewal is simple and the cost is approximately $26 per year.
To be documented, a vessel must measure at least 5 net tons and, with the exception of certain oil-spill response vessels, owned by a U.S. citizen. Boats about 27 feet in length or longer generally meet the weight requirement.