All you need to know about used boat buying and history reports

Table of Contents
Introduction
A. Where to begin with?
What to look for?
Where to search for HIN?
How to get a History Report?
B. Searching a Title for the Boat
How to check the Boat Title?
How to check the Title of Documented Boats?
How to check the Title of an Undocumented Boat?
C. What are the Boat Liens?
How to check for the Liens when buying?
Search at Coast Guard
Search at State Titling office
Third-Party Services
Some other Methods
D. Finding Boat’s Registration
E. The Jet Ski HINs
Checking a stolen jet ski’s HIN
How to report stolen jet skis
How to check used Jet Ski HINs?
F. Looking Up Boats Using the Hull Number
Where to look for HIN
What does HIN tell us?
Searching boat with HIN
G. Importance of the Bill of sale
Enlist the basics of the Boat
Registration Information
Payment Details
As-Is Clause & Signature
Try online templates
Conclusion

Introduction

Many people who buy boats, either new or used ones have questions and queries regarding different procedures related to their boats. Whether they are being asked to share the information by the official or they want to check the boat’s registration, they do not know what to do in these cases.

Well, if you are one of them then don’t worry, This article is all about the boasts, their registration process, understanding of the important credentials and terms related to the boats, and a detailed procedure on how to buy and transfer the boats. The article will also explain the different questions and queries in more of a simple and easy to understand way.

This article will guide you through all the procedures and methods that you can follow to get everything you need to know about the boats. It is divided into the section and subsection to make it more readable and easier to find the relevant information on the topic of your choice. So, let’s get started…!

A.  Where to begin with?

If you got yourself a boat and you want to know about its history and previous record, and you don’t know where to begin with, then don’t worry the process is simple and easy. It is just like inquiring about a car.

All you need to see is the HIN (Hull identification number) of your boat which is just like the Vehicle Identification number for cars. Using HIN you can easily look up the boat’s history by checking the public records. There are many more credentials that you can use to trace the history of a boat, this article will explain everything in detail.

What to look for?

The most essential information credential is the HIN of your boat. It tells us about the history of the boat. You can find it on the right-side rear of your boat or your vessel documentation. HIN is a twelve-character number, the first two characters of HIN indicate the country in which the vessel is registered. Each boat has a unique number. Make sure to check its validity for your safety. You should note it down with you after you make sure that it is valid.

Where to search for HIN?

Searching HIN is very important for the owners because it tells them about the boat accidents, complete history, and whether or not the boat was reported missing.

Many methods search for HIN to identify the past of the particular boat. But you should go for the online mode as it’s easy, fast, and reliable. Many websites like U.S. Coast Guard, www.Boat-Alert.com, Boat History Report, and Boatfax allow users to search the HIN and provide them with a complete report about their boat history and its validity. These sites sometimes give you multiple reports and data.

How to get a History Report?

As mentioned above there are some websites that offer boat history reports. The most value is offered by boat-alert.com based on the reviews charts analysis posted on this website. All you need to do is just type the HIN and the websites will pull up the report for you. Some of the sites can tell about the validity of the HIN for free, but for the complete report, you’ll have to pay a reasonable amount that can vary from $20 to $60.

After the payment you can see the full report containing all the history of the boat, you can download or print the document if you want. Always keep the track of the report and look for any red flags like accidents or stolen alerts.

Boat Alert Title History Report Logo

B.  Searching a Title for the Boat

If you are thinking of buying the new boat, then you’ll have to do a lot more. Like looking for the abstract of title, verifying the boat ownership, clearing the history record, and verifying the validity.

For the documented boats, you have to get the abstract of the title from the National Vessel Documentation Center (www.boat-abstract.com). You should verify the boat’s title for several reasons. For state titled boats you’ll have to reach the respective state agency.

How to check the Boat Title?

If you want to check the boat title, then you have to look for “Abstract of Title”. One service that can get this info is www.boat-abstract.com. It will be a lot easier for you if your document is registered with the Coast Guard. But there are some things to remember:

If your vessel is of net 5 tons, used in fishing or Coastwise trade then it must be documented by registration with the federal government. Some states do require that a boat used in its waters be registered and sometimes titled by the state. Some states regulate only undocumented boats, but others regulate both documented and undocumented boats. You have to see for your whereabouts and location.

If you want to verify the boat ownership, you should confirm that the boat is not having liens and do check something about its previous history. It would be really helpful to hire a boat documentation professional or attorney to get everything together and review the information for you and also to see if there is a need to hold responsible the owner if there is any disclosed liens or any other information.

You’ll have to verify all the documents from the seller. It’s good to go to the agencies to verify and review everything directly and be sure about its validation and accuracy.

Now boats are of two types, one that is documented and the undocumented ones, below it is explained that how to search the title for both of them.

How to check the Title of Documented Boats?

To check the title of a documented boat subject to national registration, the coast guard documentation of the boat will have the abstract of the title. To get the abstract of the title, you’ll need the boat’s name and the official Coast Guard documentation number on the boat’s beam.

To get the information about all documented vessels you can simply go online for a searchable database of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Office of Science and Technology. By entering the name of the boat and the Coast Guard documentation number you can get the whole information. in case of any queries or questions, you can contact the National Vessel Documentation Center and request an abstract of title for the boat.

How to check the Title of an Undocumented Boat?

To check the title of an undocumented boat subject to national registration firstly you need to know that many states require the boat owners to register or title the vessel based within their borders. You should inquire the seller about the registration process, or you could check the state department that registers the boats to check which boats require registration and whether you need it or not.

In some states, the boat owner must title all motorized boats regardless of the length. Here you should note that small boats and boats without engines do not require registration and titling process.

C.  What are the Boat Liens?

A boat lien is a claim against a boat that may be enforced by the seizure of your boat. a lien could be best described as a loan, debt, or claim against the value of the boat. For example, if you buy a boat that was financed, and the previous owner has not completely paid out the loan then there are liens that you have to deal with.

Once you buy the boat you take full responsibility for the debt that comes with it. Be sure to get rid of them before buying a boat. There are many forms of liens, just like an accident resulting in the civil suit, bills for the repairs of the damages done, unpaid debts by the previous owner, and so on.

How to check for the Liens when buying?

One of the biggest mistakes that new owners do is that they do not check for the liens. Yes, it is pleasing to buy a new boat of your own but keep in mind that ignoring these kinds of serious issues can lead you into trouble.

To check for liens on any enlisted vessel, contact the Center through its site or phone number and give the boat’s HIN. Request an abstract of title for the boat you’re interested in and when you get it, read it cautiously whenever you’ve got it to ensure you are out of trouble. Some private companies like boat-alert.com could have access to basic lein information from some states and private databases but there is no one central place for this information.

Search at Coast Guard

The best and recommended place to check for the liens is the U.S. Coast Guard’s National Vessel Documentation Center. If you are planning to buy a boat or you’ve bought one, then you should give it a visit. You can give them a call on their toll-free number and tell them the HULL number to inquire about the boat or you can simply visit their official website to request an abstract of title that you are planning to buy. The detailed report will consist of the sales, liens, mortgages, changes of ownership, and several other essential terms.

Once you’ve received the report you have to read it carefully to see if the boat is clear and you are good to go. It’s better to let an official or professional to do it for you because sometimes it can become a hectic task and difficult to understand.

Search at State Titling office

An alternative to search for the liens is the state titling office for the state where your boat is currently registered. If you’re having doubts as to whom to contact, whether the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators or NASBLA, make a list of all boating-related departments by state and firstly look for the Titling and Registration listing.

you might also be referred to the office of the Secretary of State for the corresponding state where you can find all the details about the liens from the internal revenue service, you should take a look. it’ll be worth it.

Third-Party Services

Normally not all the boats are registered with the Coast Guard and different states have different procedures and methods for the registration and titling, which of course leads to the lack of documentation, so what will you do in this case? In this case, you have to do the extra amount of work yourself.

There a several third-party services that offer the solution and you don’t have to do the heavy work. These third-party companies pull the data from all the other possible platforms like such as the Uniform Commercial Code in search of unpaid debts.

It is highly recommended to use these platforms for peace of mind if you don’t find your record in the previously mentioned services. One example of these platforms is “Marine Liens” which provides a sort of clearinghouse for liens where claims can be posted, searched, or settled.

Some other Methods

Apart from the above-mentioned sources, you can also try to do a bit of a search on your own. If you are having any reservations about the seller, or about the boat’s history, while you are buying that boat then you might have to do a bit of detective work yourself. You can ask around local marinas and boating-related retailers to see whether the boat and its current owner have a reputation that’s needed, whether he has a clear status i.e. the payment of everything or not. If so, you may have to take extra pains to make sure you identify any potential creditors and arrange to have the debts paid before you sign off on your boat purchase.

A bit of smart work is better to keep yourself safe and aware of any hazard, it is good to go by the book.

D. Finding Boat’s Registration

Finding a boat’s registration is not so complicated work, whether you have lost your documents or you want a new boat. You’ll have to just follow a few simple steps. All you need is a HULL identification number, HULL registration number, Title paperwork, and Photo ID and you are good to go.

  1. Firstly, write down the state registration number, located on the hull. If your boat has been registered in any state in the past, it will have a state-issued registration number on the hull.

The registration number is started with the state number, and then four to six numbers and then two more numbers. These numbers appear on the boat in conspicuous lettering and should contrast with the color of the hull. If this number does not appear anywhere on the hull, do not worry, either your boat is new and never registered or it is too large.

  • Then write down the “HIN”, hull identification number. Every person is required to stamp or paste that number to their boats, its law. Many boats have this number etched into the back of the hull of the boat. On bigger boats or yachts the number can be on the helm. the HIN could be as short as six or seven letters or numbers, or as long as 20 or more depending on the type of the vessel. HIN number is the same as Car number for vehicles.
  • For the third step, you have to gather all the paperwork of the boat, like all of your documentation to prove you have a right to access your boat’s registration or to apply for new registration. It is very important to have each and everything ready for the process to be fast and easy to make sure to have it all with you.
  • While you have everything that’s needed so far, you have to go to the department of the motor vehicle. There can be two cases, the first one is that you lost your registration paperwork and you want a new one, then present them with all the documentation and paperwork mentioned above along with you photo ID, they will process the paperwork and issue you a new registration.

If you are registering the boat for the first time you only need to present the HIN, your photo ID, and ownership documentation. After getting the new registration, keep it safe with yourself as not having the document with you can result in fines if you are ever inspected or searched by the Police or Coast Guard officials.

E.  The Jet Ski HINs

You may have heard of the jet ski HINs, if not then we are here to explain. Since 1972, federal law requires that every boat manufacturer must be assigned with a HIN to each vessel built. This includes personal watercraft and ships. This hull identification number is unique for each boat and it is used to keep track of the vessel. It can be a combination of 12 or 14 letters. This number is embossed on a vessel.

some states require that boats be registered like cars. Jet ski registration helps prevent stolen boats from being resold in the state.

Checking a stolen jet ski’s HIN

Now that you have understood jet ski HINs, let’s talk about what if it’s got stolen and you want to check a HIN. The HIN is a unique number that appears on every jet ski and you can use it to report the stolen craft. If you are planning to buy a used jet ski then it’s recommended to run a HIN through the online databases to check whether someone is trying to sell a stolen one to you.

How to report stolen jet skis

Every year thousands of watercraft get stolen. The thieves stole the watercraft and sell them for money. It is very important to get to the respective authorities for fast and reliable recovery. There are measures that you may want to follow in these cases, Firstly, every owner of the jet ski should write down the HIN and save it somewhere safe.

If a jet ski is stolen you should contact the harbormaster and assurance company if you have insured, it. You should also provide the HIN to the local police and ask them to pass information to the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) computer.

How to check used Jet Ski HINs?

If you have purchased a used jet ski or planning to buy one, then it is suggested to look for their HINs. That is because it could have been stolen before, transferred illegally, or have debts of any kind. To be sure of these things you want to know about the HINs, to check used HIN you have to follow some simple steps.

If you live in a state in which it is required to register the skis, then you are lucky enough because these skis can be traced and see when your boat is been purchased, sold or transferred, or even stolen! each and everything.

In some states, the local police do have the database but not all. You can try websites like HinDecoder to run the HIN number through various state databases to get a summary of your boat. The report will include accidents, liens, sales, and stolen alerts.

F.   Looking Up Boats Using the Hull Number

Every boat in the US manufactured or imported has a unique Hull identification number (HIN). By using online databases, you can check whether the boat registration is valid to its history simply using the HIN. It’s really helpful to see the boat life history.

Where to look for HIN

HIN for the boats is the same as the vehicle identification number for every vehicle. It is a 12-character number use to identify the boats.it is a mixture of letters and numbers.

There are some federal laws that you need to be aware of regarding the placement of the Hull number of the boat. HIN should be placed on the starboard outside of the transom if the boat has a transom. If don’t, then HIN must be attached to the starboard outboard side of the hull. One HIN code should be placed on the aft crossbeam.

Another place to place the 2nd hull number is any protected location on the inside of the boat anywhere inside or under any hardware. Make sure to add the HIN in the following placing to avoid any trouble by the officials.

What does HIN tell us?

Knowing your HIN is okay but have you ever wondered what it means? That 12 letter number is described below in a simple way for everyone to understand.

Let’s take an example of the HIN and then decode the whole number bit by bit.

Example: xyz12345B613

  • XYZ is the Manufacturer Identification Code or MIC
  • 12345 is the Manufacturer’s Serial Number that can contain information about the boat length.
  • The next group of four characters gives you the certification year and model number of the boat.
  • B6 is the Manufacture date where B=month (you can look up the table for understanding), 6=year (last digit of the year)
  • 13 are the last 2 digits of the model year, for example, if the last group of four characters is A588, it means that the boat was certified in January of 1988 with the model year of 1988.
  • Isn’t it interesting? Now do check yours and see what it tells you.

Searching boat with HIN

You may want to want to look up the boat’s hull number to verify the number, to see the boat’s history, its liens, and many more details. Several websites can decode the HIN for you. Often thieves try to alter the HIN to avoid any mishaps.

US Coast Guard also keeps the record of the boats under their registration with the name Port State Information Exchange database. It provides all the necessary data about the boats. You can access that data online using the HIN. If you are planning to buy a boat, then it is highly recommended to use these databases.

G.  Importance of the Bill of sale

A bill of sale is the document that makes the transfer of the boat from the seller to the buyer and it serves as proof of the ownership for future use. The document tells us that who is the owner, who is selling the boat, the price, and how the boat is being sold.

It is complete data for the seller and the owner to make the deal legal and valid. You’ll have to provide the bill to your state’s boating license agency to get a title and registration for your boat as well as your insurance agency for insuring the vessel.

Below is explained what to include in the bill of sale and how to write and make it look more professional and appealing.

Enlist the basics of the Boat

While writing the bill of sale it is very important to mention the boat height, length, year, make, model, and serial numbers. It would be good to mention all these under the heading “Boat Description”. Any other additional features should also be added like the color of the boat and material used etc.

Registration Information

Include the complete registration number of the boat under the “Registration Information” heading on the document. Add all the numbers of your boat to the document and make sure to add them correctly to avoid any difficulties in process of the sale or transfer.

Payment Details

You should mention the sale price on the document under the “Sale price” heading. The price should include a total of the vessel including each and everything. One can also mention the price of each part or equipment separately under the subheading. Payment details are important for future tax purposes that is why you should always mention them.

As-Is Clause & Signature

As-It is an optional addition to the document, you can add it to make the document look more professional. You have the option of transferring the boat “as is” or with express warranties regarding the condition of the vessel. Be sure to be clear about the boat guaranty, whether it is with the guaranty or not.

And at the end make sure to add the space of signature and dates for both the buyer and seller. At the time of transfer make sure to get the document signed on time.

Try online templates

It is suggested that instead of creating the whole bill of sale from the scratch you should use the templates that are available online on many websites and provided with boat-alert reports and they are free to use. Just keep in mind to use the template that follows the rules that your states demand, and it consists of all the information that is necessary and compulsory. Enlist the credentials of the buyer and seller under their respective headings.

Conclusion

Whether you are a boat lover or not if have a boat or you are planning to buy one then you should have this knowledge. It is recommended that you follow all the rules and regulations should check your boat alert history often to avoid any seizure of the property or getting any kind of liens. We have tried to put everything in this article so don’t have to look elsewhere. Read it thoroughly and get yourself up to date.