Close the Deal: Legality, Registrations, Insurance, and More

Proper paperwork is essential to hassle-free boat sales

Proper paperwork is essential to hassle-free boat sales

Whether you’re selling your family canoe, a large poweryacht, or something in between, finalizing the transfer of ownership will require some paperwork. Make sure you find out exactly what you will need ahead of time so you don’t hold up the final sale. Notarizing all paperwork (to validate your signature) is not always required, but it’s always a good idea.

State Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV)

First of all, check with your state Department of Motor Vehicles (or whatever agency controls boat sales) to find out what documentation you need to give the buyer. Most agencies have a checklist on their website.

Bill Of Sale

The bill of sale must include a description and hull number, purchase date, price, and the signature of both buyer and seller. Usually the seller creates this as a simple document, but there are several automobile templates available online that can be easily adapted for boats.

Boat Titles

Titles are issued by state, and a new one is created every time a boat changes hands. If you have an outstanding loan on your boat, the title will include that information and the buyer won’t be able to register the boat until the loan is cleared. Check with your lienholder to see what sort of paperwork will be provided and how much lead time is needed; you may have to pay off the loan first.

Other paperwork

Warranty cards, maintenance records, and any other paperwork should also be handed over at the final sale. And once the deal is final, make sure you cancel your insurance. Some companies will let you date the cancellation back to the actual day of sale, even if you call a few days later.

Got A Boat Trailer?

If your boat is on a trailer, your state may require separate paperwork. You may also have to handle the registration separately. Again, the state agency that handles boat sales should have a checklist with this information.

With a bit of planning and organization, passing papers to complete a boat sale is only slightly more than a formality. Best of all, it is the last step before your final handshake.

Document Checklist

NOTE: The following list is intended as a general guide and may not include every document for your specific situation. For a complete list of requirements, check with the state agency that controls boat sales in your area.

Boat Sales Documents Required To Complete The Boat Sale
Basic boat sales document: all should be notarized

  • Bill of Sale
  • Title
  • Proof of loan payoff
  • Trailer registration
  • Trailer title

Courtesy documents:

  • Warranty cards
  • Maintenance records

After The Sale:

  • Cancel insurance
  • Remove all ads

Back to: FSBO Seller Resource Guide

>> Sell My Boat Now on Boats.com