Navigating the Sale of a Coast Guard Documented Vessel

Buying or selling a Coast Guard-documented vessel can be both exciting and overwhelming. The idea of having some money and being done with a boat you no longer want or need is enticing and gives you the funds to buy something new. However, as a boat documented with the USCG, it’s important to follow all of the steps for a smooth and successful sale, which also saves time and money. Here’s what you need to know.

What is the Bill of Sale for Boats?

While you can still create a bill of sale on paper, in today’s digital world, it’s much easier to do so online. Either way, this document is a vital piece of selling of a boat and must contain very specific information to make it valid. You’ll need a very comprehensive description of the boat, that includes length, weight, date of manufacture, make and model, as well as anything that distinguishes the boat. The bill of sale must also include the hull identification number, the names and contact information of the parties involved in the sale, and a state registration number if the boat has one. There’s no penalty for including more information than is necessary, but there could be fines if you don’t include everything. 

Selling a Documented Vessel

The above information applies to all boats, including those that are not documented. However, if your boat is documented with the United States Coast Guard, you will also need a Transfer/Exchange form to make the sale. This allows you to transfer ownership to the buyer in such a way that the US Coast Guard is aware of the sale and has current and up-to-date information on ownership of the vessel. You will also need to take care of outstanding mortgages before the sale can be finalized. Being sure you follow the proper channels when you sell your boat saves time and money because you won’t have to risk fines, penalties, or having to re-process documentation. 

Coast Guard Documented Vessel

What to Know if You’re the Buyer

If you are the person buying the boat, rather than the seller, there are some things to keep in mind. Be sure you have an Abstract of the Title for the boat you are considering purchasing. This document tells you everything you need to know about the background of the vessel, including past ownership data and any and all maintenance work that has been done on the boat. This is important information to have because you’ll be aware of potential issues with the boat, as well as any financial issues that could become your responsibility if you buy. If the seller can’t produce the Abstract of Title, you’re likely better off buying something else. Selling (or buying) a Coast Guard-documented vessel can be an overwhelming process, but we’re here to help. Contact the US Vessel Registrar today and we can help you facilitate the paperwork and answer any questions you have about the right way to buy or sell a documented boat.