Some good news in our quarantine, our U.S. Coast Guard National Vessel Documentation Center (NVDC) documentation was finally processed, approved, and arrived in our mailbox!

We submitted the initial documentation in July of 2019, knowing that it can take quite a while to submit, re-submit, and correct whatever inevitable tiny mistakes were made. Charles’ first boat, Duende, did not process through NVDC until about a month before he sold it – about 23 months after he first applied.

So, we are now, officially and legally, aboard Ayala. This is one more important step towards cruising!

DMV vs. NVDC Registration

Boats need to be registered, like nearly all forms of transportation and large property. They can either be registered through your state agency, or federally registered with the US Coast Guard (USCG) through the National Vessel Documentation Center (NVDC).

We recommend USCG-NVDC instead of state registration, for the following reasons:

  1. Many states, including California, do not require DMV registration if the boat is USCG-registered.
  2. If moving between states with a DMV-registered boat, you need to change your registration within 60 days
  3. Most states require you to renew your registration more frequently, while you can set your registration period with the USCG-NVDC, up to 5 years.
  4. It’s not a hard-and-fast rule, but many cruisers report that USCG-NVDC documentation is easier to use internationally.

NVDC Application Tips

  • If you are applying for a recreational endorsement, and plan to have your boat for more than a year, make sure to choose a longer expiration!
    • The place to actually complete that is onĀ CG-7042, Authorization for Credit Card Transactions, in section L. I also noted that we wanted the 5 year expiration in my email submitting the documents.
  • When in doubt about the “number of pages” you are paying for, pay the extra. It’s never more than $8 or $16, and it’s worth it compared to waiting 3 months for them to review your documents, then getting an email that your payment was not right and you are back at the end of the queue.
  • For initial registration, make sure to send your bill of saleĀ and your certificate of ownership.
  • Your initial application has a time limit – 90 days from any correspondence they send you about additional information or fees they need. If you do not keep up your correspondence & manage that deadline, you will forfeit your application fees and have to start over!