Indiana Boat Registration


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Indiana Boat Registration Summary

Indiana 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 Indiana. 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.

This information is subject to change and should be confirmed with the respective agency.

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State of Indiana

State of Indiana
Bureau of Motor Vehicles

Boat Registration Website

Registration Overview

Indiana issues registrations and titles for all non-exempt boats operating in their jurisdiction. These are administered through the Bureau of Motor Vehicles in Indianapolis. Boat transactions are basically handled in the same manner as vehicles although requirements and exemptions may vary. Outboard motors are not titled or registered in Indiana. Boat trailers must be registered in this state. Boat titling is required on boat trailers weighing over 3,100 lbs. State sales tax applies to boat transactions. There are approximately 202,093 boats registered in the State of Indiana. This accounts for 1.7% of all nationwide registrations.

Registration Requirements

All motorized boats, including motorized sailboats and jet skis must be registered in Indiana. This includes boats with trolling motors. Coast Guard documented vessels must also be registered. Titling is required for all registered boats except those which are Coast Guard documented. Indiana does not have provisions for bonded boat titles or conditional boat registrations where sufficient proof of ownership is not otherwise available. Under these circumstances, an award of ownership will be required from a court of proper jurisdiction. Indiana does not have a formal program to address boats abandoned on private property. However it does have titling and registration procedures for those abandoned in marinas. Transfer, abandonment, theft, or destruction of an Indiana registered boat must be reported to the Marine Police Division within 15 days.

Marking Requirements

Boat registration numbers in Indiana begin with an "IN" 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 "INZ" are available for home made boats and those without factory designations. Boat hull number inspections are required for first time registration applications.

Ownership and Liens

Security interests in non-documented boats are recorded with the Bureau of Motor vehicles. 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. 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. A UCC financing statement must be filed to secure an interest if the boat is neither titled or Coast Guard documented.

Boat Title Searches

Boat title and registration records in Indiana are maintained by the Bureau of Motor Vehicles. The 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. Although designed for vehicles, this form also applies to boats. It is also reported that DMV offices will provide telephone verifications on information shown on boat title or registration certificates in hand. A Uniform Commercial Code search is necessary to determine secured interests if a boat is neither titled or Coast Guard documented. 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 boat title company for assistance in this regard. Non-recorded maritime liens may also be a factor when conducting boat title research in Indiana. 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. Yacht brokers, documentation companies, and attorneys do not warrant or guarantee titles. It is therefore incumbent on the owner to stand behind any such representations. Of course it will be of no consolation if a guarantor is insolvent, non-cooperative, or can not be located. This calls for a thorough background check to ensure the owner's wherewithal for making good on any hidden liens or title deficiencies.


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