Texas Boat Registration Summary
Texas 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 Texas. 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 Texas
Parks and Wildlife Department
Boat Registration Website
Registration OverviewTexas issues boat registrations and titles on all non-exempt watercraft operating within its jurisdiction. These administered through the Parks and Wildlife Department. The home office in located in Austin and there are regional service centers located throughout the state. All outboard motors, except electric trolling motors, are subject to titling, but not registration. Boat trailer registrations are handled through a local tax assessor office. Boats and motors in Texas are subject sales and use tax. There are approximately 577,144 boats registered in the State of Texas. This accounts for 4.9% of all nationwide registrations.
Registration RequirementsRegistration is required on all boats except sailboats under 14 feet in length and non-motorized boats such as canoes, kayaks, punts, rowboats, and rubber rafts. Coast guard documented boats are also subject to registration. Titling is required on all registered boats in Texas, except those which are Coast Guard documented. Texas has provisions for bonded boat titling in situations where there is insufficient proof of ownership. Texas has procedures for titling or registering a boat subject to storage or mechanic's possessory liens. Transfers of ownership, abandonments, destructions, and thefts must be reported within 15 days.
Marking RequirementsBoat registration numbers in Texas begin with a "TX" prefix which is followed by four numbers and two letters. These must be displayed on all registered boats except those which are Coast Guard documented. A hull inspection by a Texas law enforcement official is required if there is a discrepancy or for boats requiring a state assigned hull number.
Ownership and LiensBoat and outboard motor title or registration records in Texas are administered by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. If you need further boat or motor details, lien-holder information, or historical data, it will be necessary to submit a written request. Boat registration records are maintained for 10 years in Texas. Security interests on non-documented boats which are state titled must be recorded on the state title records. On Coast Guard documented vessels, a preferred mortgage must be recorded on the vessel's abstract of title. A UCC financing statement must be filed if the boat is neither titled or 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 Title SearchesBoat title and registration records in Texas are maintained by the Parks and Wildlife department and are retained for indefinite periods. This agency provides online searches for boats and motors which will show the owner and any lienholder information. Full record printouts may be obtained by submitting a boat record request form. It is also reported that the Parks and Wildlife office will provide telephone verifications on information shown on boat title or registration certificates in hand. State and Federal tax liens on boats are not always recorded in a consistent manner and are therefore difficult to track down. 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. Information about business entities that own boats registered, titled, or documented in Texas can be obtained by searching the Secretary of State business records online. This includes corporations, Limited Liability Companies and other legal entities. 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 well 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 Texas. 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 boat manufacturers. 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.