How to Change Your Boat’s Name With the Coast Guard: Step by Step

When I wanted to change my boat’s name, I could not find a simple set of instructions online. The USCG instructions weren’t 100% clear either.

So here’s what I did that worked, step by step.

Really it’s quite simple, you can complete the forms easily yourself in just a few minutes. Don’t pay someone else crazy money to do this simple paperwork for you.

Note: If your vessel has a mortgage, you will need to do one of the following two things before you can change the name:

  • Pay off the loan and have the lender file a Satisfaction or Release of Mortgage with the Coast Guard. OR…
  • Obtain the consent of the lender using Coast Guard Form CG-4593 Application, Consent and Approval for Exchange. You will have to pay an additional fee when filing for this method.


  1. Download Coast Guard Form CG-1258 Application For Initial Issue, Exchange, Or Replacement Of Certificate Of Documentation; Redocumentation from the National Vessel Documentation Center Instructions and Forms page.
  2. Open the document with Adobe Reader. You can fill in the form directly in Adobe Reader.
  3. For Item A, Vessel Name, enter the new name followed by the old name in parentheses. For example, if the new name is Sea Breeze and the old name is Wind Song, enter SEA BREEZE (WIND SONG) into Item A.
  4. Enter the USCG official number for the vessel into Item B.
  5. Enter the hull ID into Item C.
  6. Enter the new hailing port only into Item E; do not mention the old hailing port.
  7. Fill in items F and G.
  9. Check the box for one option in Item J.
  10. Check the box for one option in Item K. (I left HORSEPOWER blank, as mine is a sailing vessel with engine as auxiliary. Maybe I should have put something there anyway? They didn’t seem to mind.)
  11. Fill in Item L as appropriate for your ownership structure. I chose the first option, ONE OR MORE INDIVIDUALS.
  12. Fill in Item M. Sign and date where indicated.
  13. Determine the amount of fee required. The fee schedule can be found on the Exchange or Return to Documentation instructions. Write a check for this amount payable to U.S. Coast Guard. (When I filed in December 2017, the fee was $84 for a recreational vessel.)
  14. Put your completed and signed Form CG-1258, the check, and your existing original (not a copy) Certificate of Documentation into an enveloped addressed to:

United States Coast Guard
National Vessel Documentation Center
792 T. J. Jackson Drive
Falling Waters, WV 25419

(The address is given at the top of the Exchange or Return to Documentation instructions.)

If that’s not clear enough, here’s a completed example Form CG-1258 for name change (PDF).

That’s it! Put a stamp on it and drop it in the mailbox. Be patient, it can take the Coast Guard several months to process your request. When it does, you’ll get a sparkly Certificate of Documentation in the mail with the new name. Ok it’s not actually sparkly, but it feels that way.

And of course, once you’ve received the new Certificate of Documentation, be sure to update the actual name and hailing port markings on your vessel before your next voyage.

Did this help you change the name of your vessel? Drop a comment below and let me know!

9 replies on “How to Change Your Boat’s Name With the Coast Guard: Step by Step”

In step 14. You say include original COD. What if I am not the original owner? I am owner #3. Owner 2 changed name off books. I found original name by searching HIN numbers. I have a print out showing all the info as listed though. Boat name, HIN, CG assigned number also.

Ah, sorry for the confusion. By “original” I simply meant “not a copy.” No CoD from a prior owner is needed. It’s an exchange of CoD, so your existing CoD must be sent in for the exchange.

Thanks for this post from a few years back. One question Chuck…. once you mail in the CoD from your boat, is the Coast Guard ok with sailing around with a copy of the CoD will they are processing the replacement?

Jay, thank you for stopping by. I’m afraid I don’t know what the USCG’s requirements or expectations are for carriage when the CoD original is returned. I was unable to find anything definitive online, save for the top of the CG-1258 form, which says, “ONLY A CURRENT CERTIFICATE OF DOCUMENTATION IS VALID FOR VESSEL OPERATION.” I suggest seeking clarification from the USCG directly if you must operate the vessel while the CoD is unavailable. At a minimum, if you plan on carrying a copy of the CoD, also carry a copy of your CG-1258, canceled fee payment check, and any other supporting documentation you have and might need if boarded. But again, I do not know the legality of that. Good luck!

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