boat registration - Coast Guard vessel documentation - yacht registry

Maryland Boat Registration Summary

Maryland 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 Maryland. 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.
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Boat Registration Agency Maryland Boat RegistrationState of Maryland
Department of Natural Resources

Boat Registration Web Site
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Registration Overview The State of Maryland issues both registrations and titles for boats. These are administered through the Department of Natural Resources in Annapolis. Outboard motors are not titled or registered in Maryland. Boat trailers are registered and titled.
Excise tax is due within 30 days of the purchase date or entry into the State of Maryland.
There are approximately 172,304 boats registered in the State of Maryland. This accounts for 1.4% of all nationwide registrations.
Marking Requirements Boat registration numbers in Maryland begin with an "MD" 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 show 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 "MDZ" are available for home made boats and those without factory designations. This state does not require hull number inspections
Registration Requirements Registration is required for all motorboats in the State of Maryland. Registration is not required for Coast Guard documented vessels, but a special use decal must be obtained.  A complete list of exemptions may be found by visiting the DNR website.
The sale, transfer, abandonment, theft, or destruction of a boat registered in Maryland must be reported to the Department of Natural Resources within 15 days.
Ownership and Liens Titles are issued on all registered boats in Maryland except for those which are Coast Guard Documented. However they are optional on boats 24' or less in length. Maryland does not have provisions for bonded boat titling or registration. Under these circumstances it will be necessary to petition a court of local jurisdiction for an award of ownership. Maryland does have a defined process for claiming title to an abandoned boat.
Security interests in state titled boats are recorded with the Department of Natural Resources. 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 Maryland are maintained by the Department of Natural Resources. 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. Although designed for vehicles, this form also applies to boats. It is also reported that DNR offices will provide telephone verifications on information shown on boat title or registration certificates in hand.
Uniform Commercial Code searches are available online from the Department of Assessments and Taxation. However, if there are any suspected state or federal tax liens, it may be worthwhile to use a public record vendor as they have 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 Maryland. 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
UCC Search
Public Record Vendors
Business Entity Search
Vessel Documentation Companies
Wiki Contributors Maryland 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.


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