Color logo with background

How to get a title for a boat without a title

How to get a title for a boat without a title 3

If you find yourself in the position of buying a boat without a title, you’re not alone.

A lot of boat owners misplace the titles for their boats and even their boat registration and don’t bother to notice they’re missing until you’re buying the boat.

The good news is that there is usually a way to get a title for a boat without a title,

except when:

The owner took out a loan to purchase the boat and has yet to pay it off


the boat is stolen!

Can you buy a boat and register it without a title?

Yes, you can buy a boat and register it without a title, and in many states, that process is quite simple.

However, in some other states, like Florida, you will need to show a title or the process becomes a bit more complicated.

How To Get a Title For A Boat With A Bill Of Sale

To get a title for a boat without a title, you will first need the Bill of Sale. This is essentially the receipt that you legally purchased the Vessel from the registered owner.

Note: Not every state will allow you to get a title with ONLY a Bill of Sale. (If the title has been lost, read our section below on lost titles)

You can download a Sample pdf Bill of Sale for Boats or even hand write your own. Either way, the Bill of Sale you use must include the following information in order to get a title:

  • Names of The Buyer ad Seller
  • Address of the Buyer and Seller
  • The purchase price
  • Detailed Boat Information:
    • Make
    • Model
    • Year
    • Color
    • Hull Identification Number (H.I.N.)
    • Boat’s Registration Number
  • A list of any items being included in the sale
    • Trailer (Include any registration, Safety Inspection, or ID numbers on the trailer)
    • Fishing equipment
    • Safety Equipment
    • Covers
  • If the seller makes any warranties or guarantees, list those as well
  • Signatures of ALL PARTIES INVOLVED
    • If you Co-Purchase with a business partner or a spouse, they must sign
  • Signature by a notary (Only required in certain states, but it doesn’t hurt)

Getting A title from the DMV or Tax Collector

Now that you have your completed Bill of Sale, it’s time to head to the DMV or Tax Collectors Office. Depending on your particular state agency, you will need to bring the following:

  • This Bill of Sale
  • A Photo I.D.
  • Picture of the Hull Identification Number
  • Tax Certificate (Select States)
  • And any other documents your state requires, which is probably a lot in a state like California!
  • Money to pay your fees
  • Manufacturer’s Certificate of Origin (New Boats in Certain States)

A title usually costs anywhere from $5 to $15 bucks.

Getting A Title For A Boat Without a Bill of Sale

There is no way I know that you can get a title for a boat that has no title without a Bill of Sale.

I strongly believe in this case, you can either test your luck by claiming the boat is homemade


you will have to hunt down the seller and get the proper documentation you should already have.

Getting A Title For A Boat With No Title- Lost title

The most common reason a boat will not have a title will be that the seller (Or you) have lost it.

In this case,

you can usually head to your local DMV and apply for a lost title, or what we call in Florida a “Duplicate title.”

Here the state will void the original title and issue you a new legal title, which will usually be marked as a duplicate.

TIP: When you apply for a Duplicate Title for a boat, the original title becomes a useless piece of paper. Fraudsters sometimes use these to scam people, so beware!

States that do not require having a title for a boat:

  • Arizona
  • Colorado
  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • Hawaii
  • Kansas
  • Alaska
  • Louisiana
  • Maine
  • Georgia
  • New Hampshire
  • North Dakota
  • Tennessee
  • Wyoming

States that do require having a title for a boat:

  • Oklahoma
  • South Carolina
  • New Mexico
  • Rhode Island
  • Utah
  • Illinois
  • Washington
  • West Virginia
  • Wisconsin
  • Nevada

States that require a title based on the length of the boat:

  • Florida (16ft and non-motorized)
  • Montana (12 ft)
  • New Jersey (12 ft)
  • Oregon (12 ft)
  • Texas (14 ft)
  • Missouri (12 ft)
  • South Dakota (12 ft)
  • Massachusetts (14 ft)
  • New York (14 ft)
  • Minnesota (16 ft)
  • Vermont (16 ft)
  • Virginia (18 ft)
  • Michigan (20 ft)
  • Ohio (14 ft)

States with Special Requirments for Boat Titles:

  • California – You must title the boat if it also has to be registered
  • Indiana – If the boat was purchased before January 1986 by an Indiana citizen, it is treated as a lifeboat for a ship; it was valued at less than $3000 when it was new, or it was built for private usage and isn’t ever going to be sold.
  • Michigan – The boat only needs a title if it has a permanent engine
  • Maryland – A boat only needs to be titled if it also needs to be registered.
  • Pennsylvania- Boats need a title if they are powered by an inboard motor, powered by an outboard motor, are 14 feet or longer, are currently titled in Pennsylvania, or are currently titled in another state when Pennsylvania becomes the state of primary use.
  • Kentucky – Kentucky only requires a title if it is to be used in public; however, if it is being used on private property, he boat is exempt from a boat title.


You might also be interested in reading:

Picture of Steve Momot

Steve Momot

Steve is an accomplished professional photographer and marketer who specializes in the Fishing, Yacht, and Boating industry. With a strong presence as an influencer and marketing expert in the Marine Industry, he has made a significant impact in the field. Additionally, Steve is the original creator and co-founder of Sportfishtrader. Prior to his career as a marine photographer, he gained extensive experience as a licensed boat and car dealer in South Florida.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Share on.