Vessel Abstract of Title U.S. Coast Guard
vessel documentation abstract of title summary.
U.S. Coast Guard vessel
documentation abstracts of title are unique to the marine industry with regard
to form and function. They are the only media which affords a convenient
synopsis of all historical events with respect to ownership, mortgage, and lien
recordings. An abstract of title represents one of the more important
advantages of documenting any qualified vessel.
This summary presents a
general overview of what vessel abstracts
are, why they are created, and how they relate to boat titling in general. You
will also gain insight into some of the specifics, details about formatting, and
how to obtain an abstract for any documented vessel.
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Learn how to order, interpret, and summarize U.S. Coast Guard abstracts of title.
A must-have resource for yacht brokers, lenders, attorneys, and others in the
marine industry who rely on documented vessel abstracts.
Abstracts Defined - When a vessel is initially
documented, the Coast Guard generates a corresponding master record
which is titled "General Index or Abstract of Title". In
addition to some basic information about the vessel, all
transactions involving changes of ownership, mortgages, supplements,
and liens are recorded as individual entries. The abstract may
also contain notational information regarding a vessel's
Comparisons - Vessel abstracts are similar to those
employed in the real estate industry with respect to the manner in
which transactions are recorded. However, there are some
fundamental differences when compared to the way such information is
maintained on state titled or registered boats. Titling and
registration on the state level is typically handled in the same
fashion those for a vehicle. Microfiche copies of prior
registrations or transactions may be available in some cases, but
usually for an indeterminable period of time.
Vessel Data - Abstracts of title do not typically
show a vessel's dimensions, model year, or tonnage. However,
the place and year built will be indicated if such evidence was
provided by an applicant. The current and previous vessel names are
listed on an abstract, but hailing ports are not included. Vessel
hull identification numbers are now shown, but this was not always
the case and some may be omitted on older abstracts.
The official Coast Guard documentation number is of course always
present as the Coast Guard views this as a vessel's primary
identifier. Trade endorsements are shown on a certificate of
documentation, but not the abstract of title.
Ownership Information - One of the primary functions
of a vessel's abstract of title is to identify current ownership.
This may consist of single individuals, multiple individuals, and
legal entities such as corporations, partnerships, or limited
liability companies. It will also show the method of ownership with
respect to the manner in which multiple parties wish to hold
tenancy. An abstract of title is crucial for obtaining this type of
data because the exact methods of ownership
are not always apparent on a certificate of documentation. The
abstract will also show any ownership transfers which may have taken
place since the document was last issued.
Chain of Ownership
- A major advantage in documenting a boat with the U.S. Coast
Guard is the resulting abstract of title. If a vessel remains in
documentation since built, the abstract will show a complete chain
of transfers right up to the current owner. This can enhance the
boat's value as documentation is the only venue in which a seller
can produce such a complete record. State boat registration agencies
do not maintain this type of an ownership index. Not all abstracts
show a complete chain of ownership however, as vessels can enter or
re-enter documentation from subsequent owners.
Mortgages and Liens - A Coast Guard certificate
of documentation does not reveal any liens and encumbrances such as
secured lender interests or claimant notifications. These are
recorded the vessel's underlying abstract of title as preferred
mortgages or notices of claim of lien. Although mortgages gain
priority chronologically according to the date filed, this is not the case
with maritime claims. These are typically prioritized in favor of
the date on which the most recent lien arose. Mortgages and claims
are discharged by recording a respective satisfaction or release on
Recording Details - Abstracts of title consist
mostly of recording entries showing ownership transfers, lien
claims, preferred vessel mortgages, and supplements such as mortgage
amendments, assignments, assumptions, or subordinations. Such
recordings also include release, satisfaction, or discharge
recordings which offset claims and mortgages. Each entry indicates
the instrument date, date filed, recording type, parties names, any
respective considerations, and references to other recordings when
applicable. There will also be an indication as to whether the
filing was terminated due to recording deficiencies.
Data Entry Methods - Until just a few years
ago, abstracts were maintained on hard copy and entries were
manually typed or notated by hand. Such entries are now entered into
a computer which maintains all recordings via an electronic
database. Instruments such as bills of sale, vessel
mortgages, and supplements are scanned into the system as a digital image and the
shredded. In fact, most recordings can now be submitted in electronic
format with no need for originals.
Interpreting an Abstract - It requires a
considerable degree of expertise to interpret various entries in an
abstract of title. This holds true especially for older or
commercially endorsed vessels where transactions are usually more
numerous and complex. Here you will find a mix of fielding formats
and layouts which have been altered over the years. Although modern
abstract versions are less cryptic, you will still encounter a
considerable amount of codes and abbreviations. You should therefore
consider professional assistance with vessel abstracts unless you
have the time and inclination to become familiar with such factors.
Summarizing an Abstract - Vessel abstracts
of title are in most cases used to detect the current ownership
along with any outstanding mortgages or liens. It will therefore
become necessary to peruse the entries in order to identify only
those which have not been superseded, terminated, or discharged. In
doing so, it is best to list these on a separate form or sheet so as
to end up with a condensed summary of such elements. The Coast Guard
does offer a certificate of ownership which fulfills this need.
However, it will usually take longer to obtain than an
abstract of title and is more costly. You may accordingly wish to
consider our self-service abstract kits which will show you how to
interpret, and summarize a vessel abstract on your own. Our full-service
affiliate can also order an abstract on your behalf and render a
written summary. Please click on the services link shown below for
pricing and ordering information.
Errors & Omissions - When interpreting and
summarizing abstracts, it is not unusual to find errors, omissions,
or inconsistencies among the recordings. However, it takes a trained
eye to detect and identify the exact nature of such problems.
Conveying such information to a live Coast Guard documentation
officer can also present a challenge given the complexity of some
transactions. However, the Coast Guard will ultimately make the
correction if warranted and re-issue a revised abstract.
Ordering an Abstract - Abstracts of title
can be ordered directly from the U.S. Coast Guard or by utilizing
our abstract of title service options. An advance copy of the
abstract is usually available by facsimile with the original to
follow by mail. The usual response time occurs within 24 to 48
business hours depending on their workload. However, this could be a
matter of weeks on older vessels that have dropped out of
documentation. In this case, the abstract would need to be retrieved
from their archive storage area which
is located off-site.