If you are going to buy or sell a boat, it is important to make this operation according to the existing rules and recommendations to avoid possible problems. A boat bill of sale may be one of the documents that you will need to use in this case. In this article, you will find detailed information about it, including explanations of what it is, whether you are required to have it regardless of your state, where you can get a printable PDF file with this form, and more.
Initial Information on a Boat Bill of Sale
It is a document created for two main purposes:
- Provide proof of purchase
- Determine important warranties
In essence, it is like a receipt. This document proves that ownership has been transferred to you from the seller or from you to the buyer.
Is it an obligatory document when it comes to selling or buying a boat? This aspect depends on the peculiarities of your state’s legislation:
- Required (Arizona, Illinois, Louisiana, and others)
- Required in some cases (Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Mississippi, and others)
- Not necessarily required (Iowa, Missouri, New Hampshire, and others)
- Not required (Wisconsin, West Virginia, Utah, and others)
While the term “boat” is used here, the document is used for any watercraft, from a huge cruise ship to a simple sailboat. It is suitable to the same extent for deals with motorized or non-motorized boats.
It is a rather simple legal document that contains basic information about the deal, such as names of previous and current owners, price, and some watercraft’s details. All other terms applied to the deal should be determined in the contract or agreement. They may include cancellation of purchase, payment terms, and other conditions. When using this document for registration, you should make sure that it matches the relevant requirements of the registration department of your state.
How to Prepare a Boat Bill of Sale
It is not that important how the document looks like; it is crucial what information it includes.
The following is the information that you need to include based on the requirements in Vermont:
- The make
- Hull Identification Number
- Purchase price
- Date and signature of Seller
Remember that the document is intended not only for the registration of your watercraft but also for ensuring warranties. You may also want to include other details, such as a description of a motor. It is recommended to add more details to the bill of sale if it is the only document that you use for making your deal.
You should find a free template on the website of the relevant boat registration body in your state. Even if it is not required in your state, and you cannot find a template to download on the official website of the registration department, there are many of them available on the web.
Different forms may be required, depending on whether a boat has been titled in the state or not. We will take the examples from the official website of the Maryland Department of Natural Resources to give you insights into the differences:
- Boats that have been titled in Maryland
- New boat (DNR Form B-240)
In many states, you will have to ensure that signatures on a boat bill of sale are witnessed by at least two people. Another option is to notarize the document, which is required in such states as New Hampshire, Maryland, West Virginia, and some others.
Generally, you will need to take the following steps:
- Determine which department is regulating the registration of boats in your state;
- Find out whether the bill of sale is required;
- If yes, find the relevant template file on the department’s site. If there is no one, read what information must be included in the documents and find suitable templates on the Internet.
Why Get a Boat Bill of Sale Even if It Is Not Required?
Remember that even if such a document is not required by the relevant registration department, you should still get it. Shaking hands after the deal would not prove that it actually happened. If something is wrong, you may need to provide a relevant legal document in the court.
For example, if you sell your boat, and the new owner then makes damage to someone else’s property using this watercraft, you may have serious problems. You will have to prove that the boat does not belong to you any longer. If you are a buyer, your watercraft can simply be taken from you if you do not have proper proof of your ownership. Therefore, it is essential to have a proper bill of sale on a watercraft whoever you are a buyer or a seller. Considering that it is quite a simple document, which comes with a few fields, you should use it for finalizing your deal.
Remember to make sure that the document includes the specification of the motor your boat has. It is recommended to add it to the list of all the purchased items, such as skis, personal floatation devices, and so on. Some states require registering the trailer as well to make sure that it is in your document if you also purchase it. The document should also include mentions about watercraft condition.
How to Register Your Boat Using a Bill of Sale?
Although requirements applied to the registration of watercraft vary depending on the state, usually, the procedure begins with a bill of sale. It works as proof of the transferring ownership. While sometimes you may find information that only the seller’s signature is obligatory, it is recommended to add two signatures on the document to avoid any possible problems.
Check the requirements in your state regarding your document notarization. If such a procedure is required, you must opt for it to make a bill of sale legal in your state. Taxes are another important matter that you should remember about. To get your boat registered, you will need to pay taxes, depending on the amount of transaction. Therefore, it must be added to the document. In some states, you will be required to make an upfront payment when you register and title your watercraft. If you are purchasing a new watercraft, you will get a statement of origin (MSO). In all other cases, you will get a title per se.
The other documents that you will need to provide along with a bill of sale are:
- A valid photo ID
- Proof of the HIN (not in all states)
It is possible to submit your application for registration in several ways, including:
On the website of the registration department operating in your state, you should be able to find detailed explanations of how you can submit your documents.
If you are a new owner, you may be required to pay a registration fee. Fees vary state by state. They also depend on a range of factors, such as the watercraft’s length, materials, and age. Find out information about the fees that you will have to pay on the official website of the registration body. If you have purchased a boat, you should also remember about paying renewal fees when the time comes.