Maine Boat Registration Summary
Maine 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 Maine. 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 Maine
Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife
Boat Registration Web Site
Registration OverviewMaine is a boat registration only state and does not issue titles. All non-exempt boats operating within this jurisdiction are administered by the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife in Augusta. Registration and title certificates are not issued for outboard motors in the State of Maine. Boat trailer registration is required and those weighing over 3,000 lbs. are also titled. Sales tax is due on boat transactions and a yearly excise tax applies to boat registrations. There are approximately 108,721 boats registered in the State of Maine. This accounts for 0.9% of all nationwide registrations.
Registration RequirementsAll motorboats of any size must be registered in Maine except lifeboats and boats used exclusively for racing purposes. Coast Guard documented vessels are exempt from registration. Maine 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. Maine does not have provisions for bonded or conditional boat registrations where sufficient proof of ownership is not otherwise available. Under these circumstances it will be necessary to petition a court of local jurisdiction for an award of ownership. There are no special provisions for registering abandoned boats in Maine. Abatement is handled through the local county sheriffs office. Transfer, abandonment, theft, or destruction of a Maine registered boat must be reported to the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife within 10 days.
Marking RequirementsBoat registration numbers in Maine begin with an "ME" 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.
Ownership and LiensMaine 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 USCG 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.
Boat Title SearchesBoat registration records in Maine are administered by the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife. This agency does not facilitate online registration searches for the general public. However, they will check their database for a hull identification or verify an existing certificate if you have a copy in hand. You can also request a printed report for an existing record by telephone, fax, or email. Maine is a registration only state and does not issue boat titles. Security interests in non-documented boats are accordingly filed with the Secretary of State as Uniform Commercial Code recordings. Online UCC searches are available from their web site or can be obtained from a public record vendor. 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 title company for assistance in this regard. Non-recorded maritime liens may also be a factor when conducting boat title research in Maine. 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. 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.