boat registration - Coast Guard vessel documentation - yacht registry

Michigan Boat Registration Summary

Michigan 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 Michigan. 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 Michigan Boat RegistrationState of Michigan
Department of State

Boat Registration Website
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Registration Overview The State of Michigan issues both registrations and titles for boats. These are administered through the Department of State. This state does not issue title or registration certificates for outboard motors. Registration is required for boat trailers and titles are required on those weighing over 3,000 lbs.
Sales tax applies to boat transactions.
There are approximately 798,544 boats registered in the State of Michigan. This accounts for 6.7% of all nationwide registrations.
Marking Requirements Michigan boat registration numbers begin with an "MC" 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 "MCZ" are available for home made boats and those without factory designations. Hull identification numbers must be verified by a state official if there is a discrepancy.
Registration Requirements Unless otherwise exempt, all boats must be registered in Michigan including USCG documented vesse;s. Exemptions include those 16 feet or shorter, propelled by oars or paddles, and not used for rental or commercial purposes; non-motorized canoes and kayaks not used for rental or commercial purposes, rafts, surfboards, sailboards, and swim floats, regardless of length; and Watercraft registered in another state and used only temporarily in Michigan. Visit the Department of State website for more requirements and exemptions.
Changes in ownership, abandonments, destructions, or theft must be reported to the Secretary of State within 15 days.
Ownership and Liens Michigan issues titles on all registered boats 20' and over or those on any length with a permanently affixed engine. Coast Guard documented vessels are exempt from titling. Other non-documented boats may be titled as an option. Bonded titles are available when there is no sufficient proof of ownership.
Security interests in state titled boats are recorded with the Department of State. 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.
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 Michigan are maintained by the Department of State. 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 Department of State 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 Secretary of State. However, if there are any suspected state or federal tax liens, it may be advisable 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 Michigan. 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  -  Owner's
Boat Record Request  -  Non-owner's
National Vessel Documentation Center
UCC Search
Public Record Vendors
Business Entity Search
Vessel Documentation Companies
Wiki Contributors Michigan Department of State 


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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