Despite overwhelming opposition, the U.S. Coast Guard has adopted a $26 fee for routine annual documentation renewals.
When it proposed the fees, the Coast Guard received 2,720 comments from individuals, law firms, commercial vessel documentation services, industry groups, and maritime corporations.
Of the total, 536 responded positively to the proposed rule, with 459 commenters supporting the fee and 77 comments praising the Coast Guard’s work in general. Nearly 1,500 comments expressed disapproval of the proposed rule with 228 writing that they would no longer document their vessel. A further 1,271 referred to the user fee as the imposition of a new “tax” on the boating community.
“The Certificate of Documentation renewal fee will more accurately reflect the Coast Guard’s current operating and overhead costs associated with providing this discrete set of services,” writes Paul F. Thomas, director of Inspections and Compliance, U.S. Coast Guard.
The Coast Guard rejected suggestions by 243 people who wanted the Coast Guard to charge for vessel documentation renewals only under certain circumstances, such as if changes are made to the documentation or if renewals are late. Also rejected were multiple suggestions to make documentation permanent or at least to increase the renewal period from one to five years.
The new fee will go into effect in mid-December. The Coast Guard expects its enactment will raise about $6.1 million a year. Currently, the Coast Guard provides CODs to 265,000 vessels registered in the United States, with average annual renewals issued to 235,000 vessels.