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Delaware Boat Registration Summary

Delaware boat registration summary is a free resource designed to inform the boating public about registration requirements, recording methods, and title search guidelines for the State of Delaware. 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.

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Boat Registration Agency Delaware Boat RegstrationState of Delaware
Department of Natural Resources
Division of Fish and Wildlife

Boat Registration Website
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Registration Overview Delaware boat registrations are administered by the Division of Wildlife in Dover. Delaware is a registration only state and does not issue boat titles. Titling and registration is not required in for outboard boat motors. Boat trailers are subject to titling and registration.
No sales, excise, or personal property taxes are assessed on boats registered in Delaware.
There are approximately 58,557 boats registered in the State of Delaware. This accounts for 0.3% of all nationwide registrations.
Marking Requirements Boat registration numbers in Delaware begin with a "DL" 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 vessels manufactured after 1972 are required to have a 12 digit hull identification number affixed to the vessel by the manufacturer. Owners with older boats may apply with the Division of Fish and Wildlife for a hull number assignment. State assigned hull numbers prefixed with the letters "DLZ" are available for home made boats and those without factory designations. The hull number must be inspected by an enforcement official if there is a related discrepancy.
Registration Requirements Delaware requires the registration of all non-exempt motorboats, including those powered by electric motors. Exceptions include vessels which are registered in another state for a period not to exceed 60 consecutive days and Coast Guard documented vessels.
Delaware is a registration only state and does not issue boat titles. Although current registration certificates may be recognized as proof of ownership in some cases, they do not qualify as titles when it comes to security interests.
Ownership transfers, thefts, destructions, and abandonments must be reported within 15 days. Boat registration is available to non-residents if the boat's principal area of operation is within the State of Delaware. The Division of Fish and Wildlife does not have provisions for registering abandoned boats and does not offer bonding or conditional registrations where sufficient proof of ownership can not be provided.
Ownership and Liens Delaware does not issue boat titles therefore security interests in non-documented boats are recorded through Uniform Commercial Code filings. Tax liens are sometimes flagged in the state's registration database, recorded as Uniform Commercial Code filings, shown on state revenue records, or filed with a county clerk's office. There are no provisions for recording mechanic's liens or other non-secured claims against registered boats which are not documented.
If the vessel is USCG documented, a security interest may be perfected by filing a preferred vessel mortgage. These are recorded with the National Vessel Documentation Center with the earliest submissions taking priority. Other lien claims can be filed in the same manner although these function as notifications only. All such filings are indexed on the vessel's underlying abstract of title.
Title Searches Boat registration records in Delaware are administered by the Division of Fish & Wildlife. This agency does not facilitate online searches for the general public. However, the boat registration unit will verify registration information by telephone if you have a copy of the registration in hand. They will only provide print-outs upon special written request from the current registered owner. A  boat record request form can be used for his purpose.
Delaware is a registration only state and does not issue boat titles. State level boat liens are accordingly filed with the Department of State's Office as Uniform Commercial Code recordings. Online UCC searches are not available therefore it will be necessary to use a state approved UCC service provider. The Department of State will also provide UCC search information by telephone.
State and Federal tax liens on boats are not always recorded in a consistent manner and are therefore difficult to identify. They may show up as a red flag on state registration records, as UCC filings, in state revenue records, in a county clerks records, or on a vessel's abstract of title for documented boats. Given these disparities, it may be worth obtaining the services of a public record vendor that has access to a broad range of personal property lien recordings. Information about business and legal entities that own boats registered, titled, or documented in Delaware can be obtained by searching the Secretary of State's business records online..
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 Delaware. 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 is 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 boat manufacturers.
Resources Boat History Search Database
Business Entity Search
State Approved UCC Search Vendors
Boat Record Request
National Vessel Documentation Center
Public Record Vendors
Vessel Documentation Companies
Wiki Contributors  


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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