Foreign countries typically employ vessel registry or flagging systems similar
to our federal system which is administered by the U.S. Coast Guard. The vessel and its
owners must meet certain qualifications, certificates of registry are
issued, abstracts of title or transcripts are maintained, and mortgages
can be recorded against the vessel. There are also deregistration
procedures that apply when removing or transferring a vessel from such
While there is nothing that prohibits Coast Guard documentation of foreign built or registered vessels, such conditions may preclude the acquisition of certain trade endorsements. The documentation procedures are the same, except the National Vessel Documentation Center will require evidence of removal from the foreign registry system.
The main area of concern when dealing with foreign vessels is the language under which the ships papers are written. English versions are issued by many countries, but this is not always the case. The services of a qualified translator may therefore be required in order to convert such documents into a format acceptable for the respective country. Other issues that may need to be addressed are notary authentications, lien searches, and matters of customs clearance.