boat registration - Coast Guard vessel documentation - yacht registry

Iowa Boat Registration Summary

Iowa 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 Iowa. 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 state agency.
Please read our terms of use before proceeding.

Boat Registration Agency Iowa Boat RegistrationState of Iowa
Department of Natural Resources

Boat Registration Web Site
Please contribute any experience or knowledge you may have about registering a boat in Iowa ....  Wiki-Share
Boat Registration Overview Boat registration and titling in the State of Iowa is administered through the Department of Natural Resources in Des Moines. Outboard motors are not titled or registered in Iowa. Boat trailer registration is required in Iowa. Titling is required on boat trailers weighing over 2,000 lbs.
Iowa state sales tax applies to boat transactions.
There are approximately 220,466 boats registered in the State of Iowa. This accounts for 1.8% of all nationwide registrations.
Marking Requirements Boat registration numbers in Iowa begin with an "IA" 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. State assigned hull numbers prefixed with the letters "IAZ" are available for home made boats and those without factory designations. Hull number inspections are not required.
Registration Requirements All boats must be registered except for inflatable vessels that are 7 feet or less in length and canoes or kayaks that are 13 feet or less in length. Coast Guard documented vessels are also subject to registration.
Titles are issued on all registered boats in Iowa except those which are Coast Guard documented. Iowa has procedures for acquiring boat titles and registrations where no evidence of prior registration has been established. Bonded boat titles are also available.
Transfer, abandonment, theft, or destruction of an Iowa registered boat must be reported to the Department of Natural Resources within 10 days.
Ownership and Liens Security interests in non-documented boats are recorded with the Department of Natural Resources. These will be shown on both the registration certificate and title when applicable. All titles with active security interests are sent directly to the secured party. A UCC financing statement must be filed if the boat is neither titled or documented. Tax liens are sometimes flagged in the state's registration database or perhaps recorded as Uniform Commercial Code filings. 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 lender's 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 Iowa are administered by the Department of Natural Resources. This agency does not facilitate online searches for the general public. However, they will check their records by telephone for a hull identification number or verify a registration certificate if you have it in hand. Upon request, the DNR will also fax, mail, or email a print-out at no charge. This can be ordered by telephone or by submitting a boat record request form. If the boat is neither titled or documented a Uniform Commercial Code search must be performed to identify any financing statements.
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.
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 Iowa. 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
Boat Record Request
UCC Search
Public Record Vendors
Business Entity Search
Vessel Documentation Companies
Wiki Contributors Iowa Department of Natural Resources


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.


A Division of Maritime Partners, LLC
State of Washington  USA
© Copyright 1998 - 2020.   All rights reserved.