Documenting your yacht with the Coast Guard is a wonderful plan if you plan to cruise internationally, and some boat lenders will actually require you to document the vessel. Documentation is a simple formality that requires a few forms and a small fee paid to the United States Coast Guard.
Documenting your vessel is a good idea and definitely not a scam, the scam comes in the mail when it is time to renew your documentation. A few months before your documentation is set to expire, this will arrive in the mail:
Maritime Documentation Center sure does sound official! Being how my documentation is coming up for renewal, this made sense to me and I thought it was a courtesy from the USCG in sending this to me.
When you open the envelope, you are greeted with a very professional looking paper that directs you to their website. Now, upon visiting the website, which mind you has a very official sounding domain name, you are prompted to pay $75 as a renewal fee. If you read the letter, it states that this fee is due in addition to the Coast Guard fee (which is $26).
A few weeks later, you will then receive a letter from the actual Coast Guard.
This form is very easy to fill out and send in, and the fee is only $26 per year. I don't think that the form is $75 worth of trouble to need to pay an outside firm to take care of it for you.
If your yacht is documented, beware of this scam company, they will contact you every year as they exploit this form mimicry.