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BoatWiki - Definitions


A commercial vessel is broadly defined as any non-governmental watercraft that is utilized for activities other than personal recreation. Such vessels are closely regulated not only for safety and environmental purposes, but also with respect to matters of trade protections. Issues surrounding commercial vessels are very complex and difficult to navigate for the layperson.


Commercial maritime activities can be more narrowly viewed as those related to carrying passengers, transporting cargo, and commercial fishing operations. Skippered charter boats, fish processing barges, sea-going ships, and oil tankers are just some examples of what may fall within the classification of commercial vessels.

Statutory Regulations

Commercial vessels engaged in shore to shore operations within U.S. waters must become U.S. Coast Guard documented. In order to do so however, the vessel and its owners must conform to stringent requirements depending on the type of usage.

Safety Requirements

Vessels operating in U.S. territorial waters must conform to both federal and global safety standards.


The realm of commercial vessels is extremely complex when it comes to rules and regulations. Vessel documentation professionals may be expert in matters of registration and titling, but are not typically qualified with regard to commercial usage requirements. It is best, therefore, to consult with a qualified maritime attorney or an appropriate government agent before engaging is such activities.

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2/8/2022 - Page initiated by Team BoatWiki.

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