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Preferred Mortgage - More Information



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Preferred Vessel Mortgage


How and when to file and record a preferred vessel ship mortgage with step by step instructions.

BoatWiki - Guidelines


Jun 2, 2022 - These guidelines will provide step by step instructions on how to go about recording a preferred vessel ship mortgage. The filing of a preferred vessel mortgage must be implemented in order for a marine lender to perfect a collateral interest on any boat large enough to qualify for U.S. Coast Guard documentation.

Step - 1 - Verify the documentation status.

Preferred vessel mortgages can only be recorded against vessels that already have a valid certificate of documentation or are in the process of becoming documented. If unsure of this status, you can inspect the documentation certificate's expiration date or confirm any applications in progress through the Processing Status Check in WikiLinks.

Step - 2 - Check for prior recordings.

Prior mortgage recordings that are still outstanding will not preclude the filing of yet another preferred vessel mortgage. However, these will affect the rank and priority of your mortgage until they are discharged. Preferred mortgages achieve priority according to the date upon which they are received by the National Vessel Documentation Center. If unsure about this status, you should order an abstract of title and inspect it carefully. Visit the Abstract of Title selection in WikiTags for information about abstracts.

Step - 3 - Complete the mortgage form.

A  preferred mortgage must include citations about the mortgagor, the mortgagee, the vessel, and the mortgage amount. It must also be properly executed, notarized, and be accompanied by the any ancillary items referenced in the mortgage. These may include a promissory note and/or security agreement.  A link for downloading the form along with completion instructions can be found in the WikiTags. If unsure of whether the completed mortgage meets recording requirements, you can attach a Optional Application for Filing as shown in the WikiTags that will take care of such concerns.

Step - 4 - Submit the filings.

Once the mortgage has been properly executed and notarized, it is time to bundle everything up for submission to the National Vessel Documentation Center. All items should be prefaced with a transmittal cover letter as shown in WikiTags. It will provide the documentation center with your contact information, list the items submitted, and your payment option. You should also request a certified copy of the mortgage which must be carried on the vessel at all times. In making submissions, the documentation center will now accept copies of all items including the executed mortgage, related forms, and attachments. This means that in addition to regular mail or courier, you have the option of sending these items by email with no need to follow up by mailing the originals. A link to guidelines for electronic filings can be found in the WikiTags.

Step - 5 - Monitor the progress.

Processing time can be a matter of weeks and even months depending on the documentation center's pending backlog. You can get a sense of this by following the Paperwork Status Inquiry link at the bottom of their home page. Although recordings may be delayed, you can take comfort in the fact that a time and date stamp is placed on all of your recordable instruments immediately upon receipt. This ensures their rank and priority on the abstract of title, even though not actually recorded until a later date. In monitoring the progress of your transmittal you should first confirm that your items were actually received. If submitted by email you should get a response confirming either their acceptance or rejection. You can also monitor the  progress by visiting the Processing Status Check link in the above WikiLinks. In any event, you can always contact the NVDC by telephone or email at any time if you have any concerns about the status of your application. Keep in mind that if you receive a filing deficiency notification, everything goes back to the bottom of the queue until resolved.


Getting a preferred mortgage recorded is not all that difficult. However, this does not ensure its viability should the terms come under dispute. You should contact a maritime attorney with any such concerns. A professional vessel documentation service may also be worthwhile if you need assistance with the filing aspects.

Credits and References

6/2/2022 - Page revised.



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