boat registration - Coast Guard vessel documentation - yacht registry

Massachusetts Boat Registration Summary

Massachusetts 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 Massachusetts. 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 Massachusetts Boat RegistrationState of Massachusetts
Massachusetts Environmental Police
Boat Registration Bureau

Boat Registration Web Site
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Registration Overview The State of Massachusetts issues both registrations and titles for boats. These are administered through the Massachusetts Environmental Police in Boston. Outboard motors are not titled or registered in Massachusetts. Boat trailers weighing over 3,000 lbs. are registered and titled.
Sales tax is levied on boat transactions in Massachusetts.
There are approximately 134,538 boats registered in the State of Massachusetts. This accounts for 1.1% of all nationwide registrations.
Marking Requirements Boat registration numbers in Massachusetts begin with an "MS" designation which is followed by four numbers and then two letters. These must be displayed on all registered boats along with registration sticker tabs. USCG documented vessels are not  subject to state numbering, but must display 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 "MSZ" are available for home made boats and those without factory designations.
A  boat must be physically inspected by a Massachusetts law enforcement officer if there is a hull number discrepancy.
Registration Requirements Registration is required in Massachusetts for all motorized boats unless otherwise exempted. USCG documented vessels are not registered. A complete list of exemptions may be found by visiting the MEP website.
Ownership transfers of boats registered in Massachusetts must be reported within 15 days.
Ownership and Liens Titles are issued on all registered boats over 14' in Massachusetts, except for those which are Coast Guard Documented. Massachusetts does not have provisions for bonded boat titles or conditional boat registrations where sufficient proof of ownership is not available. These situations are handled on a case-by-case basis through the Boat Registration Bureau. Massachusetts has defined procedures for titling abandoned boats.
Security interests in state titled boats are recorded with the Boat Registration Bureau. 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 Secretary of State as Uniform Commercial Code (UCC) filings. Tax liens may be flagged on boat registration records, recorded as UCC 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 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 Massachusetts are maintained by the Boat Registration Bureau. This agency has an online record request form for individual records. Record printouts may be obtained by submitting a boat record request form. It is also reported that the registration office will provide telephone verifications on information shown on boat title or registration certificates in hand.
Uniform Commercial Code searches are available online from the Secretary of State. If there are any suspected state or federal tax liens against the boat, it may be worthwhile to use a public record vendor as they have a much broader access to such filings .
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 Massachusetts. 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 documented vessels.
Resources Boat History Search Database
Boat Record Request Online
Boat Record Request
National Vessel Documentation Center
UCC Search Online
Public Record Vendors
Vessel Documentation Companies
Wiki Contributors Massachusetts Environmental Police


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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