Rhode Island 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 Rhode Island. 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.
Division of Registration and
Boat Registration Website
Please contribute any experience or knowledge you may have about registering a boat in
Rhode Island ....
||Rhode Island is a "registration only" state and does not issue
titles for boats. Registrations on non-exempt boats are administered by the
Department of Environmental Management. This state registers outboard motors but
does not issue titles. Registration
is required on all boat trailers in Rhode Island. Titling is
required on all 1973 and later year models weighing over 3,000
approximately 39,685 boats registered in the State of Rhode
Island. This accounts for 0.3% of all nationwide
||Boat registration numbers in Rhode Island begin with an "RI" 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. Owners with older boats may apply with the Marine Police Division for a hull
number assignment. State assigned hull numbers prefixed with
the letters "ALZ" are available for home made boats and those without factory
designations. A Rhode
Island law enforcement official must inspect the boat if there
is a discrepancy in the hull identification number.
||All non-exempt boats over 13' must be registered in the state of
Rhode Island. Coast Guard documented vessels must also be registered. Exemptions
include lifeboats, vessels used only for racing, rowboats less than 12 feet long,
and a canoe or kayak. Visit the Division of Registration and Licensing website for a
complete list of requirements and exceptions.
Rhode Island does not have provisions for registering abandoned boats. In this case,
it will be necessary to petition a local court of law for an award of ownership.
The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management must be notified within 15
days regarding a change of address, transfer of interest or if the vessel was
abandoned, destroyed, or stolen.
Ownership and Liens
Rhode Island is a registration only state and does not issue boat titles.
Registration certificates may however serve as quasi-proof of ownership unless the
vessel is USCG documented. Security interests in boats that are neither titled or
documented are therefore recorded through Uniform Commercial Code filings.
Tax liens are sometimes flagged in the state's registration database, 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 registered boats which are not USCG documented.
If the vessel is USCG documented, a security interest is 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 registration records in Rhode Island are maintained by the
Department of Environmental Management. This agency does not facilitate online
searches for the general public but registration information may be obtained by
submitting a boat record request form. It is also reported
that the registration office will confirm hull identification numbers or provide
telephone verifications on registration certificates
Rhode Island is a registration only
state and does not issue boat titles. Security interests in non-documented boats are
accordingly filed with the Department of State as Uniform Commercial Code
recordings. Online UCC searches are available from their web site or by using a public record vendor.
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 documentation company for assistance in this
Non-recorded maritime liens may also be a factor when conducting boat title research
in Rhode Island. 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
Public Record Vendors
Vessel Documentation Center
Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management