boat registration - Coast Guard vessel documentation - yacht registry

Virginia Boat Registration Summary

Virginia 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 Virginia 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.
Please read our terms of use before proceeding.

Boat Registration Agency Virginia Boat RegistrationState of Virginia
Department of Game & Inland Fisheries

Boat Registration Website
Please contribute any experience or knowledge you may have about registering a boat in Virginia ....  Wiki-Share
Boat Registration Overview Virginia issues both registrations and titles for boats operating within their jurisdiction. These are administered by the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries in Richmond. This state does not issue titles and registrations for outboard motors. However, they can be listed on the boat registration records. Boat trailer registration and titling is required in Virginia.
Sales tax applies to boat transactions in the State of Virginia.
There are approximately 224,031 boats registered in the State of Virginia. This accounts for 1.9% of all nationwide registrations.
Marking Requirements Virginia boat registration numbers begin with a "VA" 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 when applicable, 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 "VAZ" are available for home made boats and those without factory designations. The boat must be inspected by a Virginia law enforcement official if there is a discrepancy with the hull identification number.
Registration Requirements Virginia registers all non-exempt boats that operate within their jurisdiction. This includes all watercraft propelled by machinery, including but not limited to, gasoline, diesel, and electric motors. Sailboats with no motor over 18' are titled but not registered. Coast Guard documented vessels may become registered but this is not required. Exemptions include a watercraft visiting Virginia which is registered in another state for up to 90 consecutive days. A complete list of requirements and exemptions may be found on the DMV website.
Transfers of interest, abandonments, destructions, and thefts must be reported within 15 days.
Ownership and Liens  Virginia issues titles on all registered boats except for those which are Coast Guard Documented. This includes certain sailboats which are exempt from registration. This state has defined procedures for titling or registering boats when there is insufficient proof of ownership. There are also procedures for titling abandoned boats.
Security interests in state titled boats are recorded with the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries. These will be shown on both the registration and title certificates when applicable. This state has a paperless or electronic system for titles when there is 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. 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.
Title Searches Boat title and registration records in Virginia are maintained by the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries. This agency does not facilitate online searches. However, record printouts may be obtained by submitting a boat record request form. It is also reported that their office will check for hull numbers by telephone or verify information shown on boat title or registration certificates in hand.
Uniform Commercial Code searches are available online from the Secretary of State. If there are any suspected state or federal tax liens however, it may 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 documentation company for assistance in this regard.
Non-recorded maritime liens may also be a factor when conducting boat title research in Virginia. 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.
Resources Boat History Search Database
Boat Record Request Form
UCC Online Search
Public Record Vendors
Business Entity Search
National Vessel Documentation Center
Vessel Documentation Companies
Wiki Contributors Virginia Department of Inland Game and Fisheries


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.


A Division of Maritime Partners, LLC
State of Washington  USA
© Copyright 1998 - 2020.   All rights reserved.