to our state boat registration & titling page!
page contains articles, links, information, and other resources related
to boat, trailer, and outboard motor registration or titling the state level. It serves as
a gateway to our complete selection of boat registration services,
forms, databases, articles, and guides. You will also learn about the
relationships between state level registration, boat titling and Coast
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► TITLE SERVICES
A complete range of vessel documentation, boat
registration, and vessel research services.
► VESSEL FORMS
From purchase agreements to vessel titling, we have all
of the forms you will ever need.
► MAILING LISTS
Up-to-date ownership mailing lists in various formats
for all owners of documented vessels.
► TITLING GUIDES
A complete selection of guides and handbooks for
everything related to titling and research.
► BOAT HISTORY
The internet's best database for historical
background checks on all types of vessels.
► VESSEL RECORD SEARCH
The internet's most powerful vessel record
search with six major databases all rolled into one.
STATE BOAT REGISTRATION & TITLING RESOURCES
About Boat Registration
& Titling - An overview of state boat
registration and titling. Shows the relationships among state registrations,
titles, and vessel documentation.
State Registration Advisor
- Answers to frequently asked questions about state level boat registration
or titling, operational requirements, and other state related issues.
Boat Registration Services - A state-by-state listing
of low cost self-service kits which include everything required to register
or title a boat on the state level.
Boat Registration Forms
- Interactive online forms designed for state level boat, trailer, and
outboard motor registration and titling.
Boat Registration Summary - A state-by-state overview of boat,
trailer, and outboard motor registration or titling requirements. Includes
state level statistical data.
Title Advisor - Answers to frequently asked questions
from boat buyers, sellers, owners, marine lenders, boat dealers, yacht
brokers, attorneys, and marina operators.
Delaware Yacht Registration
- An overview of what Delaware registration is all about and why it
has become so popular with boat owners all over the world.
Maritime Boat Liens
- An overview what boat liens are all about, how they are created,
various options for enforcement, and their relationship to state boat
titling and registration.
Boat History Search - Search
six databases at once for historical information about boats that have
been stolen, auctioned, damaged, recalled, or involved in accidents.
UCC Filings - The current
status of UCC financing statements as they relate to securing a loan
interest in boats on the state level.
Vehicle vs. Vessel Titling
- An interesting article that explains the differences and
implications between vehicle and vessel titling.
State Registration Reporting
- Information, guidelines, and resources for fulfilling state
level reporting requirements with respect to boat titling and
Public Record Vendors - A searchable database of
state-by-state and county public record vendors that can conduct boat
registration or UCC filing research.
Boat Registration Guides - Visit our guides page for
information and other resources pertaining to state level boat registration
State Registration Defined - Boat registration is a
process by which state and territorial jurisdictions grant
operational privileges for all types of watercraft. This is
evidenced by a certificate of registration which must be present on
the boat when underway. Registration is also a means of revenue
enhancement as it typically involves the collection of fees and
State Titling Defined - State boat titling is often
equated to registration, but it serves an entirely different
purpose. This is a service provided in certain states that affords
an owner with a certificate of ownership for the subject boat.
Although boat titles are typically issued in conjunction with a
first time registration, this is not always the case. They may be
attained on a stand-alone basis under certain conditions. Boat
titling is mandatory in some jurisdictions, optional in others, and
not even offered by certain states.
Territorial Registration - U.S. territories such as
American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Marianas Islands, Puerto Rico and
the U.S. Virgin Islands all have procedures for registering boats.
As a practical matter, their registration requirements and
procedures are typical of those here in the states. All references
to state level boat registration will therefore include the
- Boat registrations are similar to those for vehicles in that
they are periodic, involve tabs or stickers, and registration
numbers are issued for both. However, some boats are prohibited from
displaying their assigned numbers and others may be exempt from
registration altogether. Such contradictions are brought about by
the federal government's involvement in vessel documentation which
is another form of boat registration.
Numbering System - A uniform numbering system for
non-documented vessels was devised and implemented by
the U.S. Coast Guard some time ago. This involved a nationwide
method of registering boats in a consistent manner. The Coast Guard
subsequently allowed individual states to take over such activities
on the condition they would adhere to the established system. This
resulted in complete abdication on behalf of the Coast Guard which
now administers vessel documentation on an exclusive basis.
Documented Boats - Federal regulations prohibit a
documented vessel from becoming titled in any other manner. State
jurisdictions are accordingly not allowed to issue a title if the
subject boat is actively documented. However, the Coast Guard does
not view state level registrations as titles. Certain states have
therefore elected to register documented boats whereas others may
allow an exemption under such circumstances.
Registrations as Titles - State boat registration
certificates may have the same appearance as titles, but are not
intended for this purpose. This becomes problematic however in those
few states states that still do not provide boat titling services. Under these circumstances, the respective registration certificates
are widely accepted as proof of ownership when issued on
- When a lender secures an interest on a state titled boat,
the certificate is usually held by the lender. When the loan is paid
off, the lender will then endorse the ttile and forward it to the
owner. Some states
have now adopted a process where this is implemented electronically
and issuance of a title certificate is withheld until the lender
files a release. Although not widely prevalent for boats, such
practice does exist in certain jurisdictions.
Operational Requirements - Operational requirements
can vary considerably from state to state with regard to boat
registration. As a general rule, boats over a certain size and those
which are mechanically powered will become subject to registration.
There are also a number of exemptions which may apply
including documented boats, government owned vessels, and those
designed for specialized usage.
Reciprocity Agreements - Residents must typically
register their boat within a certain number of days after bringing
it into their respective state. Non-residents have what is known as
reciprocity or visitation privileges which affords them an exempt
status for a certain number of days. In order to qualify however,
the boat must usually be currently registered in another state. Most
states will forego this requirement when a boat is Coast Guard
documented or foreign registered, but this is not always the case.
Application Requirements - There is considerable
disparity among state agencies when it comes the items required for
registering or titling a boat. Some states, especially those which do not issue
boat titles, may settle for a simple bill of sale as proof of
ownership and nothing else. Others are very stringent and will demand a
prior title, registration, or builder's statement. Rules also vary
with respect to abandoned boats, foreclosures, and lien sales.
Conditional or bonded registrations and titles may be available in
some cases, but a court order is often the only solution where no
other evidence is available. One thing in common with most states
is a requirement that such jurisdiction will be the place
of principal usage for the boat.
Hull number inspections are also necessary in most cases when they
are questionable. Citizenship or owner residency is not typically an
issue when registering or titling a boat on the state level.
Registration Data - In states which issue boat
titles, the registration certificates will usually reflect the same
information as shown on the title. This typically includes the
registered owner and any legal owners or secured parties. This may
not always be the case however in non-title states as loan interests
on non-documented boats are usually recorded via a Uniform
Commercial Code filing. As for boat descriptions, the year model,
make, overall length, type of usage, hull identification number, and
other details are typically shown. A boat registration certificate
will always show the expiration date whereas a title does not.
Fees - Boat registrations are often used by the
states for fee and tax collection purposes. These are accordingly
collected whenever a boat is initially registered and whenever it
comes up for renewal. Such costs will however vary considerably with
each jurisdiction. Registration service fees are always required,
but excise, use, and sales taxes can range from nothing to a nominal
percentage of the boat's value. Although Coast Guard documented boats
may become exempt from registration costs in some states, this
rarely applies to tax assessments.
Errors & Omissions
- Boat registration and title certificates are not immune from
errors, omissions, and other types of deficiencies. These can occur
due to typographical errors when entering the data, inadvertent misinformation,
or by intentional design to defraud by an applicant. Governmental
agencies will not therefore warrant, guarantee, or stand behind the
information shown on boat registration or title certificates.
- Many states administer boat registrations or titles through
the same department that handles motor vehicles. Others may utilize
their department of fish and game, natural resources, department of
revenue, secretary of state, or other agencies. Boat titling in some
states is also handled by a different department from that which
administers registrations . Even though boat registration activities may have
become centralized in many states, some will still use local county clerk
offices or private businesses as sub-agencies. This is especially
true for boat dealers and certain brokers who can register boats
from their own transactions..
- The federal government is very open with regard to vessel
documentation records and ownership information. Public access to
state boat registration and title records is however a completely
different matter. Anti-disclosure laws are now in effect for most
states with regard to both vehicle and boat ownership records. This
has resulted from actions taken in the past which resulted in damage
settlements from dissemination of such data. Boat records can
now only be obtained upon written application in most cases and the
requesting party must have due cause for needing such
Changes - Changes in boat registration or titling
regulations come often and quickly with each jurisdiction doing
their own thing. It can even happen without prior notice as some
unfortunate boaters have discovered. Although we endeavor to
keep current with these issues, it is not always possible to reflect
the very latest data on our web site. We therefore encourage our
readers to always check with the appropriate agency before taking
any actions based on the information contained herein.
► REGISTRATION SERVICES
A complete selection of state boat
registration and title services. Your choice of economical self-service
kits or convenient full services.
Visit our forms page for a complete listing
of state boat registration and transaction forms.
Check out our boat registration summary for
a synopsis of all state boat registration requirements nationwide.
Owners should be
aware that notifications must be filed upon the occurrence of certain
events on boats that are state titled or registered. Among these is a
requirement to submit a written report if the vessel has been sold,
transferred, or its physical status has changed.
Reports are also required
in the event of any changes in address, abandonments, thefts, or
destruction of the boat. The time period for such reporting varies by state, but
is typically within 10 to 15 days. Registration reports do not of
course, preclude any insurance, financing, and other operational
Most states have a
special forms for filing registration notifications which are typically
referred to as "Report of Sale" or "Change of Registration". However, a
written notification on the owner's letterhead will usually suffice if
the boat is properly identified and circumstances are thoroughly
regulations are not always enforced, there are some other common sense
issues to consider. Major problems may arise If a seller fails to report
the sale or transfer of the boat and a subsequent owner does not follow
through in changing the registration. An injured party will look to the
owner of record for restitution should the boat become involved in an
accident or create any other liabilities such as unpaid repair bills and
tax deficiencies. In such cases, the burden will be upon the recorded
owner's shoulders to
disclaim ownership of the boat at the time of such occurrences.
Please contact your local state boat registration agency with any specific
questions or concerns about title or registration reporting requirements.
Prospective buyers and owners are often confronted with the issue of
whether to state title the vessel or acquire Coast Guard documentation. This is
of course, a foregone conclusion when a lender is insisting on a
preferred vessel mortgage. Although most states now have tried and true vessel
titling systems, there are still good reasons to document a vessel other
than to merely satisfy a marine lender. The
following are some of the reasons buyers may wish to consider
Coast Guard documentation:
may be a better alternative when a buyer resides in a state which does not
issue a formal title. Although yearly registration certificates from
non-title states can serve as proof of ownership or as quasi-titles, they are not
bona fide title documents and may be more difficult
should be considered for vessels that
will traverse foreign waters or those of another state. A Certificate of Documentation is more universally recognized
as an instrument of undisputed ownership. In foreign waters, documented
vessels also enjoy certain protections afforded under international law
that apply to U.S. flagged vessels.
3. A documented vessel can enjoy certain
sales or property tax advantages in some states and
may even be exempt from yearly registration fees.
4. Within the
boating community, documentation is viewed as a more prestigious method
of titling. In the realm of national registry, a documented vessel joins the ranks of other
luxury yachts and ships that carry the U.S. flag. In addition,
documented vessels are not required to display state registration
numbers on the vessel's exterior.
There are many
reasons for titling a vessel either on the state level or with the
federal government. However, in some cases it may simply come down to a
matter of personal preference.
The UCC-1 filing that was for so many years a primary method for
recording vessel liens has now taken a back seat to state titling. Of
course, in those few remaining states that do not issue vessel titles,
this is still a viable alternative. Although a majority of marine
lenders no longer file these in titling states, some continue the
practice just as an extra precaution, or perhaps to cover accessories
that are not essential to the vessel. Blanket filings on a vessel
dealers inventory are also quite common.
One of the more
convenient aspects of securing on a state title or through a preferred
mortgage is that once filed, they require no further maintenance. This
is not the case with UCC filings as they are usually periodic and must
be renewed from time to time. On the positive side, many states have now
converted to centralized UCC systems that eliminate the need for
locating the appropriate county clerk. In addition, most states have adopted a universal or
generic UCC-1 form that is much easier to record.
There is a common
perception that all vessels are simply titled with the appropriate state,
just like automobiles and recreational vehicles. However, the methods for
recording a vessel's ownership can vary widely depending on its size,
intended usage, and the waters on which it will navigate. Among the various
governmental agencies that regulate vessel titling, licensing, and
registration are the U.S. Coast Guard, individual states, U.S. territories,
counties, and foreign countries.
A typical vessel larger
than 25 feet in length may have become subject to one, several, or perhaps
all of these conditions during its lifetime. Smaller vessels are more likely
to have been titled and registered in the same manner as a vehicle. However,
there are still some differences on how boats are handled even on the state
level. All of the states issue periodic registrations, but some do require
or even provide vessel titling. Vessel registrations are also administered by
different agencies depending on the state. In some cases, they are handled
by a fish and game or natural resources department rather than the
department of licensing or motor vehicles.
The manner in which an
owner or prospective buyer elects to title or register the subject vessel
can have a major impact with respect to taxes, security, and operations.
Although there is no substitute for the advice of an attorney or
professional accountant, you will find a great deal of information on these
subjects right here in our web site.