46 USC 31321 - Filing, recording, and discharge

(a) 
(1) A bill of sale, conveyance, mortgage, assignment, or related instrument, whenever made, that includes any part of a documented vessel or a vessel for which an application for documentation is filed, must be filed with the Secretary of Transportation to be valid, to the extent the vessel is involved, against any person except
(A) the grantor, mortgagor, or assignor;
(B) the heir or devisee of the grantor, mortgagor, or assignor; and

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(C) a person having actual notice of the sale, conveyance, mortgage, assignment, or related instrument.
(2) Each bill of sale, conveyance, mortgage, assignment, or related instrument that is filed in substantial compliance with this section is valid against any person from the time it is filed with the Secretary.
(3) The parties to an instrument or an application for documentation shall use diligence to ensure that the parts of the instrument or application for which they are responsible are in substantial compliance with the filing and documentation requirements.
(4) A bill of sale, conveyance, mortgage, assignment, or related instrument may be filed electronically under regulations prescribed by the Secretary.
(b) To be filed, a bill of sale, conveyance, mortgage, assignment, or related instrument must
(1) identify the vessel;
(2) state the name and address of each party to the instrument;
(3) state, if a mortgage, the amount of the direct or contingent obligations (in one or more units of account as agreed to by the parties) that is or may become secured by the mortgage, excluding interest, expenses, and fees;
(4) state the interest of the grantor, mortgagor, or assignor in the vessel;
(5) state the interest sold, conveyed, mortgaged, or assigned; and

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(6) be signed and acknowledged.
(c) If a bill of sale, conveyance, mortgage, assignment, or related document is filed that involves a vessel for which an application for documentation is filed, and the Secretary decides that the vessel cannot be documented by an applicant
(1) the Secretary shall send notice of the Secretarys decision, including reasons for the decision, to each interested party to the instrument filed for recording; and
(2) 90 days after sending the notice as provided under clause (1) of this subsection, the Secretary
(A) may terminate the filing; and
(B) may return the instrument filed without recording it under subsection (e) of this section.
(d) A person may withdraw an application for documentation of a vessel for which a mortgage has been filed under this section only if the mortgagee consents.
(e) The Secretary shall
(1) record the bills of sale, conveyances, mortgages, assignments, and related instruments of a documented vessel complying with subsection (b) of this section in the order they are filed; and
(2) maintain appropriate indexes, for use by the public, of instruments filed or recorded, or both.
(f) On full and final discharge of the indebtedness under a mortgage recorded under subsection (e)(1) of this section, a mortgagee, on request of the Secretary or mortgagor, shall provide the Secretary with an acknowledged certificate of discharge of the indebtedness in a form prescribed by the Secretary. The Secretary shall record the certificate.
(g) The mortgage or related instrument of a vessel covered by a preferred mortgage under section 31322 (d) of this title, that is later filed under this section at the time an application for documentation is filed, is valid under this section from the time the mortgage or instrument representing financing became a preferred mortgage under section 31322 (d).
(h) On full and final discharge of the indebtedness under a mortgage deemed to be a preferred mortgage under section 31322 (d) of this title, a mortgagee, on request of the Secretary, a State, or mortgagor, shall provide the Secretary or the State, as appropriate, with an acknowledged certificate of discharge of the indebtedness in a form prescribed by the Secretary or the State, as applicable. If filed with the Secretary, the Secretary shall enter that information in the vessel identification system under chapter 125 of this title.