boat registration - Coast Guard vessel documentation - yacht registry

District of Columbia Boat Registration Summary

District of Columbia boat registration summary is a free resource designed to inform the boating public about registration requirements, recording methods, and title search guidelines for the District of Columbia. The data is maintained as an open wiki forum where readers are encouraged to participate by sharing knowledge and experiences with this particular state. Simply click on the "Wiki-Share" link to contribute further details or suggest a revision.

The information presented here is subject to change and should be confirmed with the respective registration agency.
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Boat Registration Agency Washington DC Boat RegistrationDistrict of Columbia
Metropolitan Police Department

Boat Registration Web Site
Boat Registration Summary The District of Columbia issues both registrations and titles for boats operating within its jurisdiction. These are administered by the Metropolitan Police Department in Washington/ The district does not issue titles or registrations on outboard motors/Registration and titling are required on all boat trailers in this district.
Sales tax is assessed on boat transactions in the District of Columbia.
There are approximately 2,512 boats registered in the District of Columbia. This accounts for 0.05% of all nationwide registrations.
Marking Requirements District of Columbia boat registration numbers begin with an "DC" designation which is followed by four numbers and then two letters. These must be displayed on all non-documented boats along with registration sticker tabs. Coast Guard documented vessels may not display the state registration numbers. However they must display the state registration tabs, an owner designated vessel name, and a hailing port. An official documentation number must also be affixed to a visible interior location in the hull itself or an integral part of the hull.
All boats manufactured after 1972 are required to have a 12 digit hull identification number affixed to the vessel by the manufacturer. State assigned hull numbers prefixed with the letters "DCZ" are available for home made boats and those without factory designations. The boat must be inspected by a District of Columbia law enforcement officer if there is a hull  number discrepancy.
Registration Requirements The District of Columbia registers and titles all non-exempt boats operating within its jurisdiction. These are administered by the Metropolitan Police District in Washington. Coast Guard documented vessels are also subject to registration. A complete list of requirements and exemptions can be found on the Metropolitan Police Department website.
Washington D.C. does not have provisions for bonded boat titling or conditional boat registrations when there is insufficient proof of ownership. In this case a petition must be filed with the district court for an award of ownership.
Ownership and Liens The District of Columbia issues titles on all registered boats except for those which are Coast Guard documented.
Security interests in titled boats are recorded with the Metropolitan Police Department These will be shown on both the registration and title certificates when applicable. All titles with active security interests are sent directly to the secured party. Security interests in boats that are neither titled or USCG documented are recorded with the Record of Deeds Office as Uniform Commercial Code (UCC) filings.
Tax liens may be flagged on boat registration records or recorded as UCC filings, There are no provisions for recording mechanic's liens or other non-secured claims against state titled boats.
If the vessel is USCG documented, a lender's security interest must be perfected by filing a preferred vessel mortgage. These are recorded with the National Vessel Documentation Center and priority is attained according to the date filed. Other maritime liens can be filed in the same manner although they function as notifications only. All mortgage and lien filings are indexed on the vessel's underlying abstract of title.
Title Searches Boat title and registration records in the District of Columbia are maintained by the Metropolitan Police Department. This agency does not facilitate online searches for the general public due to strict privacy laws. However, record printouts may be obtained by an owner or otherwise qualified party by submitting a boat record request form. It is also reported that the registration office will check for hull numbers by telephone or verify information shown on boat title or registration certificates in hand.
Uniform Commercial Code searches are available by contacting the Record of Deeds office. If there are any suspected state or federal tax liens however, it may be advisable to use a public record vendor as they have a much broader access to such filings nationwide.
Ownership, mortgage, and lien search recordings for USCG documented vessels can be obtained by ordering an abstract of title and a copy of the certificate of documentation from the National Vessel Documentation Center. However, these are encoded and can be difficult to interpret, especially on older vessels with numerous recordings. It may be worthwhile to contact a professional vessel documentation company for assistance in this regard.
Non-recorded maritime liens may also be a factor when conducting boat title research in the District of Columbia. These include liabilities for items such as services, equipment, fuel, storage, parts, supplies, and damages which can become attached to the boat itself regardless of ownership. One of the most useful tools for doing this kind of research is our premier boat history search database. It offers a gathering of eight nationwide databases into a single interface which can be searched by numerous criteria. These include records for stolen boats, marine lien claims, boating accidents, pollution incidents, auctioned boats, factory recalls, and documented vessels.
Resources Boat History Search Database
Boat Record Request Form
Recorder of Deeds Office
Public Record Vendors
Business Entity Search
National Vessel Documentation Center
Vessel Documentation Companies
Wiki Contributors District of Columbia Metropolitan Police Department


Visit our database page for the nation's premier boat history report with a full compliment of title search resources. Includes eight maritime databases all rolled into one convenient interface. A must-have service for any prospective buyer, marine lender, or maritime professional.


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