Vessel documentation is registration at a national level. This form of documentation is one of the earliest functions of the US Government, dating back to the 11th Act of the First Congress. Documentation provides irrefutable substantiation of nationality for international purposes, provides for unimpeded commerce between the states, and admits vessels to certain restricted trades, such as coast-wise trade and the fisheries. Since 1920, vessel financing has been enhanced through the availability of preferred mortgages on documented vessels.
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