BOAT BUILDING IN MEXICO- rules and regs?

Hey, does anyone know who i need to talk to in order to build a boat in Mexico? What are the rules and regulations? I need to talk to the equivalent of the US Coast Guard, but in Mexico i guess. I also heard that the ABS is not involved down there.

Please let me know ASAP because I’m heading down to Mexico to build a vessel in less than a month.


PS- If there is a more relevant section to post this in, let me know.

[quote=jamesg;25526]Hey, does anyone know who i need to talk to in order to build a boat in Mexico? What are the rules and regulations? I need to talk to the equivalent of the US Coast Guard, but in Mexico i guess. I also heard that the ABS is not involved down there.

Please let me know ASAP because I’m heading down to Mexico to build a vessel in [B][I]less than a month.

PS- If there is a more relevant section to post this in, let me know.[/quote]

It seems a bit late to be asking. :confused:

And sorry I don’t have any info.

What kind of boat is it any way?

ABS is in Mexico, a classed boat will be inspected by ABS in Mexico. If you build a boat there it cannot be US flagged. What kind of boat do you plan to build. If you are looking at building a cheap boat for US trade guess what? The Jones Act does not allow it.

I have done ship surveys with ABS in Mexico and Venezuela. Sadly I’m on an Lloyds ship currently or I would have their contact info ready.

Good luck


ABS is everywhere. The question is what type of vessel is he planning to build in Mexico? It will be foreign flagged whatever it is.

Well, your first point of contact would be with your shipyard. Mexico certainly has a US Coast Guard equivelant. All major and some minor Class Societies are represented in Mexico. I do not believe that Mexico has one of their own. Depending on what kind of boat you are building, you may or may not want Class to be involved. As stated above, it IS kind of late in the game to be asking these kinds of questions, though.

For ABS question, see

There is no Coast Guard equivilent in Mexico. ABS and Vertitas but there is no Coast Guard or anything such as. I ran vessels there for 10 years. The offshore vessels work for Pemex which are required to be inspected by them but it is done by their own inspectors usually Mexican Navy or some type of maritime academy graduate. There are several maritime academies in Mexico in which all of the officers are graduates. A Patron de Costa can be obtained with sea time through your seaman’s book but you are limited to vessels less than 500 ITC. Anything above requires a 4 year progarm at one of the Maritime academies to hold any position other than a mate. The Mexican offshore service companies have their vessels built in Singapore, The Netherlands, or the United States so I ahve no idea what kind of vessel anybody would want to build there. Bender has 2 shipyards, one in Veracruz and one in Tampico. Outside of that the only vessels built in Mexico are small fiberglass skiffs and shrimp boats.

Well, an actual equivalent of the Coast Guard is probably the wrong way to state it. There is, on paper, at least, a Mexican Maritime authority. Now, I don’t know if it has changed, but I do know that ABS was not authorized to carry out statutory reviews, surveys, etc. on behalf of Mexican flag vessels. They were only done on a case by case basis. Now, I do believe that any entity that requests ABS (or any other IACS Class Society Member) to carry out this kind of work would get the permission.

I had direct dealings with this some years ago with a vessel being converted for work in Mexico. We spent the entire time during the conversion from an old Candian supply boat into a four point diving vessel with the statutory review and surveys being done for Panama. Of course two weeks before delivery, we find out that it all now had to be for Mexico. No, no Mexican Coast Guard showed up, and I was given the authority to act on their behalf.

Remember, most Class societies surveyors perform two functions when boarding your vessels. There are Class surveys, that deal with maintenance of Class (structural and mechanical) and the Statutory Surveys, in which they act on behalf of the Vessel’s Flag Authority (SOLAS, MARPOL, Load Line and the different IMO Carrier Codes). Now, there is some overlap, however they each stand on their own. Of course these days, there are also the ISM audits, too; but I don’t believe that the regular field surveyors do the audits. I could be wrong. It has been a few years since I worked as a Class Surveyor.

I don’t know that Bender has a shipyard anywhere outside of Mobile. TNG Veracruz is operated by a Norwegian company. Chen Morrison has a shipyard with a new drydock in Alvarado (between Veracruz and Quatza) and is advertising their construction capabilities. There are several steel fabrication yards in Tampico (Madero).

Why is that? Lots of vessels built overseas are US flag.

Not commercial vessels. Only a select few that have been acquired overseas after construction. You cannot construct a newbuild US Flag commercial vessel in Mexico.

[I]The U.S. cabotage laws, commonly referred to as the Jones Act, require all commercial vessels transporting merchandise between ports in the United States to be built, owned, operated and manned by U.S. citizens and to be registered under the U.S. flag. The law applies to any vessel operating between two U.S. ports, whether in the continental United States, or non-contiguous states of Hawaii and Alaska, and also Puerto Rico. It functions to as a barrier to entry for low-cost foreign carriers, which are not subject to the same wage, labor and environmental regulations faced by U.S. shipbuilders and operators[/I]

“Between ports in the US”

Well that seems to fall within the guidelines of US Flag. Lets see your examples of lots of boats built outside of the United States that are US Flag. Don’t have any? I didn’t think so.

M/v: Alliance norfolk, m/v: Horizon eagle, m/v: Horizon falcon. . . . . .

1 vessel is lots? Believe what you want to as it is obvious that you have no valuable input here other than trying to argue. The laws are written as they are.

No, I am not trying to be argumentative. I am just stating facts. There are more vessels should you care to do a minimum of research. And this isn’t to state that there are a whole lot of US Flag vessels built overseas (there aren’t that many US Flag vessels to begin with). But a statement that a vessel being built in Mexico (or anywhere outside of the US) automatically cannot be US Flag, is, in fact, incorrect.

Hey Guys,

Sorry I haven’t responded. I never got an email that anybody had replied to this post.

Anyway, I plan on building a barge out of a modular dock system like Versadock or Jetfloat. That’s why everything is kind of not planned out because I can literally build this thing in a couple days and i heard Mexico isn’t very regulated.

The plan is to build it down in Cabo and have concerts on it for spring break. In late March to early April I will probably dismantle it.

The reason I want to get it registered is because I would like to have concerts on the same type of setup in the USA and a marine engineer that I’ve been talking to said that it will be difficult to get something like that registered as a barge in the USA. He recommended building it in Mexico and bringing back photos and videos of it in use, so that he can present it to the US Coast Guard and other authorities for approval.

I just discovered on the Versadock website the other day that they actually have experience with their customers getting their docks registered as a vessel, so I’m feeling much more optimistic. Here’s the link

From the website:

[li][B]Do I need permits?[/B] It depends on the area. In most cases your VersaDock system is considered a temporary structure and may not require a permit. It really depends on your local regulations.[/li]
In Florida there is a state statute that exempts most floating docks used as floating vessel platforms but there are certain requirements to be met. While this is a Florida Statute, we have been advised by Pinellas county in Florida that a Permit is required and need to advise you accordingly.

[li][B]Can I register the dock as a boat or barge?[/B][/li]Yes. Many customers have registered their VersaDock systems as both motorized and non-motorized boats and barges. This sometimes simplifies local requirements.

I don’t know about you, but I have never seen a modular dock being used as a boat in the USA… I really hope it actually can be registered.
General Specs of the barge I’m building----[/B]

[li]Aprox 50’X100’[/li][li]Pushed by a boat which is tightly secured into the V channel in the Versadock. I’ve heard that since the barge will not have propulsion of its own there are less hoops to jump through. Pushing it with a boat will supposedly simplify things.[/li][li]Sand on the surface- maybe 3-4 inches deep[/li][li]Potted Palm trees[/li][li]A tiki bar- made out of lightweight stuff- bamboo, palm leaf roof, etc[/li][li]Music[/li][li]Hot babes[/li][li]Wet tee shirts![/li][li]Etc etc.[/li][/ul]
This photos shows how it can be pushed by a boat. The boat just needs to be secured really well.

I’m sure I’ll need some of the less exciting things too like life vests, life boats, safety lights, flairs, horns, etc.

After spring break I plan on taking it to the west side of Baja into the rough water to see how much abuse it can take (with no passengers of course). This will be the true test of how flexible and resilient it can be. I’ll probably test different configurations too.

Given all the information i just gave you do you think I will need to get it inspected by the authorities and get it registered?

I still need to research business license, permits, insurance, liquor license too, but I can do that on my own.

Its these boat rules and regs which are so difficult to understand!!

I’ll probably be heading down to Cabo in a week (February 1st), then buy a motorboat, get the dock shipped to me, put it together in the water, then anchor it here when its not in use:

I’m under a huge time crunch, so I appreciate all the help you guys are giving me. Oh, and you know you guys are invited. There may even be some free booze waiting for you!


Er, good luck with that. Personally, I don’t think you stand a chance with your idea, especially when considering the use that you are planning. Certainly not from registering a commercial vessel. I also don’t know why you would want or need to register the “barge”. From a structural standpoint, I am not so sure that it would be rigid enough for what it is you are trying to do.

Wet t-shirts for sure. Have you figured out how much all that sand is going to weigh, and believe me it will get heavier once all the beer, rum, semen, piss, and vomit soak into it. If the picture above is any indication, stability is going to be an issue as well. How are you going to spread all that sand? With a shovel? 100 x 50 x 4 inches of sand? You’ll need a Bobcat or some very, very cheap local labor.

Why not simply rent a chuck of the beach down there and you’ll find the sand is already in place for you.

I just wonder how much that “dock” would flex under the weight of the moving bobcat, too.

While I can appreciate when people try new ideas and take chances, Calling that a “barge” might be a little overly ambitious…not to mention dangerous. I have seen those used for “temporary” docks for small lightweight personal watercraft, and stability was an issue with just jetskis on them.

Good luck to all parties involved, particularly the drunk patrons trying to stand up on the thing.