5 Steps to Transfer Boat Registration or Title Paperwork

By Debbie Hanson

Apr 18, 2019

Learn steps to transfer boat registration, transfer boat title in your state. General guidelines, examples of boat registration steps, start boating today

If you are thinking about purchasing a pre-owned boat, you might be wondering about the steps you need to take to transfer boat registration or title paperwork.

To start, it's important to understand that a boat registration isn't technically transferrable. In some states the registration number may be transferred to the new owner (if available), but the new owner of the boat will always receive new registration paperwork that has been filed using the new owner's name and contact information.

The title of a boat, on the other hand, is transferrable from one owner to the next. These are a few of the steps you may have to follow when completing a boat title transfer.

  1. Check with the fish and wildlife agency or department of motor vehicles in your state to be sure you understand the laws that apply to transferring a boat title. Most states have similar requirements to transfer boat title paperwork as they do to transfer a car title.
  2. Before you can have the title to your pre-owned purchased boat transferred into your name, the seller must fill out the transfer section on the back of the title and sign it. You will also need to find out if your state requires this step to be completed in the presence of a notary.
  3. Complete an application for the title at a tax collector's office or with a license plate agent. States that require boat titles will provide an application form that you need to fill out with your name, address, and other important information regarding the boat you have purchased.
  4. Pay any titling fees, registration fees, and sales tax.
  5. Once the boat title transfer has been made, be sure to keep your title on file in a safe place at home.

Be aware that some states (such as Arizona, Colorado, New Hampshire, and North Dakota) do not require a boat to be titled or have the requirement to transfer boat title paperwork. In these instances, the buyer should obtain the detailed bill of sale from the seller and copies of bills of sale going back to the owner of record and the original state issued registration card if the boat is registered in a non-title state.

While you won't have to go through a boat registration transfer, you will need to keep your boat registration paperwork aboard your newly acquired vessel. Part of learning how to boat is making sure you have valid title and registration documents based on your state's requirements.

Debbie Hanson
Debbie Hanson
Debbie Hanson is an award-winning outdoor writer, women’s sport fishing advocate, IGFA world record holder, and freshwater guide living in Southwest Florida. Hanson’s written work has appeared in publications such as Florida Game & Fish Magazine, BoatUS Magazine, and USA Today Hunt & Fish. To learn more about her work, visit shefishes2.com or follow her on Instagram @shefishes2.