South Dakota Boat Registration Summary
South Dakota 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 South Dakota. 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 South Dakota
Department of Revenue
Motor Vehicles Division
Boat Registration Website
Registration OverviewSouth Dakota issues registrations and titles for all non-exempt boats operating within its jurisdiction. These are administered by the Motor Vehicle division in Pierre. Outboard boat motors are not subject to titling and registration in South Dakota. Boat trailer registration and titling are required in this state. Sales and excise taxes are levied on boat transactions in South Dakota. There are approximately 60,557 boats registered in the State of South Dakota. This accounts for 0.5% of all nationwide registrations.
Registration RequirementsSouth Dakota registration is required on all boats over 12' and all motor boats regardless of length. Coast Guard documented vessels are also subject to registration. A visitation period of 60 days is allowed for boats that are registered in another state, Coast Guard documented, or registered in a foreign country. A complete listing of requirements and exemptions can be found on the MVD website. South Dakota does not have provisions for bonded or conditional registrations when there is insufficient proof of ownership. In these cases it will be necessary to petition a local court of law for an award of ownership.
Marking RequirementsSouth Dakota boat registration numbers begin with an "SD" 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 boats 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 "AKZ" are available for home made boats and those without factory designations. The boat must be inspected by a South Dakota law enforcement official if there is a hull number discrepancy.
Ownership and LiensSouth Dakota issues ownership titles on all registered boats except for those which are Coast Guard Documented. These are administered by the Motor Vehicles Division. Security interests in titled boats are recorded with the Division of Motor vehicles. These will be shown on both the registration and title certificates when applicable. This state has an electronic lien and title system. As a result, a certificate is not printed on any title that indicates a lien. 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.
Boat Title SearchesBoat title and registration records in South Dakota are maintained by the Division of Motor Vehicles. This agency does not facilitate online searches for the general public. 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 applies to boats. It is also reported that DMV offices will check for hull numbers by telephone or verify information shown on boat title or registration certificates in hand. Uniform Commercial Code searches are not available online in this state. It will accordingly be necessary to file an information request form or use a public record provider. If there are any suspected state or federal tax liens it may also be advisable to use a public record vendor as they have a much broader access to such filings nationwide. 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. On-recorded maritime liens may also be a factor when conducting boat title research in South Dakota. 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 offers 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.