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Vessel Documentation - Definition



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Vessel Running Papers


BoatWiki - Definitions


Vessel running papers can be defined as interim documents that are maintained on board while awaiting the issuance of a USCG certificate of documentation. These are typically copies of all ownership documents along with evidence that an application for documentation is in progress. This may include a letter of involvement from a vessel documentation company when applicable. Running papers are also referred to as operating papers and running letters.


When recreational vessels become documented or re-documented with the U.S. Coast Guard, there may be delays of up to several weeks before the new certificate of documentation is issued. The Coast Guard does not issue temporary certificates during such period, therefore, owners will sometimes endeavor to operate with running papers in hand.


A vessel is not technically entitled to operate without the applicable USCG documentation and/or state registration certificates on board. Enforcement officials may at their discretion, however, make exceptions given sufficient running papers when the vessel is otherwise in compliance with marking and safety requirements. Running papers are not usually necessary for state registration delays as these are not typical. Most jurisdictions that register documented boats will issue temporary certificates or permits while awaiting a delayed certificate of documentation.


Team BoatWiki has thus far been unable to obtain a definitive policy on the validity of running papers from the Coast Guard and many state agencies. Although not usually problematic, boaters are advised to check with the enforcement agencies that patrol the waters in which they intend to operate. We would also appreciate a WikiShare from anyone that has been boarded or inspected under these conditions.

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6/21/0222 - Page initiated by Team BoatWiki.

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