Table of Contents
How to Search for a Boat’s History
Finding the right information
Searching the HIN
Ordering a history report
How to Search for a Title for a Boat
Checking Boat Title
Checking Title of Documented Vessel
Checking Title of Undocumented Vessel
Other Elements of a Pre-Purchase Title Search
How Do I Verify There Are No Liens on a Boat I Want to Buy?
Coast Guard Search
State Title Record Search
Third-Party Online Searches
A Bit of Detective Work
How to Find a Boat Registration?
Things you will require:
Finding a Boat Registration
How to Check a HIN Number if a Jet Ski Is Stolen?
Understanding Jet Ski HINs
Reporting Stolen Jet Skis
Checking Used Jet Ski HINs
How to Look Up Boats Using the Hull Number
Locating the HIN
Decoding the HIN
How to Write a Bill of Sale for a Boat?
Start with a Template
Identify the Boat
Include Registration Information
Mention the Money
Write an Optional As-Is Clause
Sign and Notarize
If you have a new boat in your life and you want to know where it is, never fear, the process of discovering the past of a boat is just like finding a car.
Just as cars have Vehicle Identification Numbers (VIN), vessels have Hull Identification Numbers (HIN). By locating its HIN and reviewing the corresponding public records, anyone can look up the history of a boat.
Find an HIN on the boats. It has twelve characters and can be found on the right side of the rear of the vessel, and the registration documents of the boat should also be visible. The first two characters of the HIN show the country of registration of the ships. The number as a whole is special to each boat, and to ensure that it is accurate before committing to buying a boat, it is necessary to run a search for this number.
Once the HIN has been tracked, be sure to write it down so that you have it for future reference.
The age of the boat, its owners, and whether the boat has had any incidents over the years will be detailed in this article. It may also determine whether the boat is stated to have been stolen or missing.
To locate any accidents from a boat’s history, there are many ways to run an HIN against public records, but by far the best way is online. Websites such as The U.S. Coast Guard, Boatfax and Boat History Report allow you to search the HIN of a boat to ensure that the number is correct, and they also do further searches to bring up the history report of the boat, and multiple reports are often available.
Type in the HIN for the boat and order a history report. Some websites can at least let you know if the HIN is valid free of charge, such as Boatfax. But you’ll actually have to grab a credit card in order to get the whole background study. For example, the Boat History Report provides a single $40 history report or five reports (for comparison) for $55. Boat-alert.com is 20$ and offers the best value.
If you have paid, the database of the website should load the boat’s report (or reports) automatically for you to view and print. To find the full history of the vessel, read the entire report, and keep an eye out for any red flags, such as major incidents or stolen boat news.
How to Search for a Title for a Boat
For a variety of purposes, you may want to check the title of a boat. You may receive an abstract of the title from the National Vessel Documentation Center for a registered boat. Go to the relevant state department for state-entitled vessels.
You’ll need to do far more than just study the abstract of the title if you’re considering buying a boat. You will have to check the ownership and history of the boat to ensure that there are no outstanding, unknown liens on the vessel.
The document you are looking for is called the “abstract of title.” when you want to check the title of a boat to determine ownership. If the vessel is recorded with the Coast Guard, your task is an easy one. Registration with the federal government shall be documented for vessels of 5 net tonnes or more used in fishing or in coastal trade.
Some states require that the state register a boat used in its waters and also call it. Some states only govern undocumented ships, while others control both reported and undocumented ships.
If you are testing the title of a documented vessel subject to national registration, the abstract is part of the report of the Coast Guard on the vessel. You will need the name of the vessel and the official Coast Guard documentation number etched on the beam of the ship to obtain the abstract of the title. That can also be useful if you know the hailing terminal. Hailing ports are usually traced on the transom of the ships.
Through using the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Office of Science and Technology’s online searchable database, you can obtain information about all recorded vessels. To obtain the details, enter the name of the boat and the Coast Guard documentation number. You can contact the National Vessel Documentation Center if you have problems and request an abstract of the boat’s title.
What if the ship is not protected by national registration? Many states require the registration or title of vessels based within their boundaries by boat owners. Ask the vendor for information about whether registration and titling of the boat has been completed. To decide which boats must be registered, you can also consult with the state department that registers motor vehicles.
In Texas, for example, boat owners are required to title all motorised boats irrespective of their length, all sailboats 14 feet or longer, and any sailboats of any length with an auxiliary engine. Note that small boats and motorless boats (such as sailboats, canoes and rowboats) are not normally subject to the regulations on registration and titling of boats.
Having an abstract title will give you the name of the owner of the boat. But if you’re thinking of buying a cruise, far more than this must be included in your study. Confirm that the boat is free of liens and encumbrances and learn more about its past in addition to confirming the ownership of the boat with title. Hiring a boat documentation specialist or solicitor to gather and review the details for you might be worthwhile.
This type of extended boat title quest begins with the seller’s information, who can include full specifics about the description of the boat and how it is named and/or registered. Any pending liens, encumbrances or lawsuits against the boat, as well as the background of the boat, should also be reported in writing by the seller.
To support these facts, the seller should provide evidence, such as copies of the boat’s title, registration, Coast Guard documentation and any funding records.
Both registration and title documents that you obtain from the seller will need to be checked. To make sure they’re reliable and current, go straight to the departments. Look for any recorded and non-recorded liens, which include unpaid mooring bills, maintenance and supplies related to the running of the boat. Such connections can be hard to track down. If the sale is consummated, an attorney can insert language in the sales contract to keep the seller liable for any undisclosed liens.
If you have grown up on the water or are a relatively new enthusiast, it’s still an exciting time to purchase a boat of your own. It’s also a big buy, one to be taken seriously and handled with due diligence. One of the classic beginner mistakes is purchasing a boat burdened with liens, so plan to spend a bit of time and a few dollars testing government and third-party databases to ensure that there are no liens on the boat you choose to purchase.
A lien is simply a loan, or claim, against the boat’s value. If you purchase a boat that was financed, and the previous owner has not fully paid out the loan, one obvious instance occurs. There are also other ways in which liens can arise: an accident may lead, for example, to a civil action and judgment against the former owner or a large repair bill. Even an unpaid moorage fee or fuel bill can result in a lien, and the lien attaches to the boat rather than the owner of the boat, sadly. If you claim ownership of the ships, whether you want to or not, you will take responsibility for the debt as well. As the customer, it is your job to ensure that your pockets are not looted to pay off those unpaid debts.
In the U.S., the first place to look for ties is Global Vessel Documentation Center by the Coast Guard. The Coast Guard tracks the majority of boats over 30 feet in length, and several smaller vessels. Contact the Center via its website or toll-free phone number to search for liens on any registered vessel and include the official hull number of the boat. Request a title abstract for the boat you are interested in and read it carefully once it has been obtained. It’s a biography of your boat, from construction to the present owner, so to speak. Sales, liens, mortgages, ownership changes and several other details of the history of the boat will be described. To confirm that all the named liens and mortgages have been discharged, read it carefully, or employ a specialist to do it for you.
Another spot to check for unpaid liens is the state titling office for the state where the boat is actually registered and whether they are different in the home state of the seller. The National Association of State Boating Law Administrators, or NASBLA, keeps a list of all boating-related departments by state if you are unsure who to contact. Second, search for the listing for Titling and Registration. Not all states need the title of a small watercraft, so you can also be referred to the office of the corresponding State Secretary of State. That’s where you’ll find Internal Revenue Service liens, so it’s always worth a look unless you’re keen to pay the tax bill of someone else.
Not all vessels are registered with the Coast Guard, and the standards for titling and registration are broadly different for states. The lack of clear documentation means that often you will have to search deeper to find connections to a particular vessel. A variety of firms provide third-party searches that check for unpaid debts by dredging other data sources, such as the Uniform Commercial Code. Marine Liens, one such site, offers a sort of lien clearinghouse where claims can be written, searched or settled. Using one of these third-party searches clarifies many of the remaining potential sources of liens and may provide a fair degree of peace of mind, but the unsuspecting purchaser can still have unreported liens lying in wait.
Unreported liens also emerge from the continuing costs, such as mooring fees or fuel expenses, of the operation of vessels. If you have any reservations about the seller, or about the background of the boat, you may have to do a little investigation in person. To see whether the boat and its current owner have a reputation for slow payment or non-payment, inquire about nearby marinas and boating-related stores. If so, before you sign off on your boat purchase, you will have to take extra pains to ensure that you locate any possible creditors and arrange to have the debts paid.
How to Find a Boat Registration
It is a very simple method to find a boat’s registration, whether you have lost your registration papers or bought a new boat. Easily accessible from your vessel, you just need some basic facts.
- Pen and paper
- Hull identification number
- Hull registration number
- Title paperwork
- Photo ID
Write down the identification number for the state found on the hull. If your ship has been registered in some state in the past, it will have on the hull, usually towards the bow, a state-issued registration number. Generally, the identification number appears as the initials of the state, followed by four to six numbers and then two more numbers or letters. A boat in Texas, for instance, may have a registration that reads: TX 1234 AB. These numbers appear in prominent lettering on the boat and should contrast with the hull’s colour.
Skip this move and proceed to Step 2 if this number does not appear anywhere on the hull, either because your boat is new and never registered or because it is too big.
Write down the hull identification number (“HIN”). Each manufacturer of sail and power boats is allowed by law to permanently stamp or affix to its boats a hull identification number. This number is carved into the transom (back) of the boat’s hull in most warships. The number might appear near the helm or on a fuse panel on larger yachts. The HIN may be as short as six or seven letters or numbers, or as long as 20 or more, depending on the manufacturer. A HIN on a boat is very similar to the number of a vehicle identifier found on a car.
Gather the paperwork or loan papers for your word. Gather all of your ownership documents to show you have a right to use your boat’s registration or to apply for a new registration whether you own a boat directly or are financing a boat.
Carry your details to your motor vehicle department. If you have lost your registration documentation, present them, along with your photo ID, with any or all of the above details and documentation and they will give you a new registration. You just need to show the HIN, ownership documents and your photo ID if you are registering the boat for the first time, or are transferring the boat to another state.
When you have a new registration, be sure to keep it just as you would register your car in a secure location on your person or on your boat. If you are ever inspected or “pulled over by police or Coast Guard units, failure to carry your boat registration can result in fines.
How to Check an HIN Number, if a Jet Ski Is Stolen
A special number that appears on any jet ski manufactured in the U.S. is the hull identification number, or HIN, and owners can use this number to report a stolen vessel. Run the HIN via an online database before you purchase a used jet ski to decide if anyone is trying to sell you stolen goods.
Federal legislation requires any manufacturer of recreational boats to allocate an HIN to each vessel constructed since 1972. It covers personal watercraft. For each boat, the hull identification number is distinctive, a kind of serial number used to keep track of the craft. It is a blend of letters and numbers in the U.S., with a total of 12 characters. In Europe, there are 14 characters in HIN. This number is embossed above the waterline on a vessel, but for personal watercraft, it is found on a plate on the aft section. Furthermore many private watercraft have “Datatag” which carries the identification data of the theory.
Furthermore, some states require boats to be licenced like vehicles. You have to register when you buy one. For example, in Connecticut, jet skis are among the watercraft that need to be registered. Jet ski registration helps avoid the re-sale of stolen boats in the state.
Jet ski owners should write their watercraft’s HIN and keep it outside the boat somewhere. The owner can contact their harbor master and insurance provider if a jet ski is stolen. She should also provide the local police with the HIN numbers and request that the data be given to the computer of the National Crime Information Center (NCIC).
More than 5,000 watercraft, with the highest occurrence in Florida, are stolen each year. Many of the robbers with the intention of selling them take watercraft.
You’ll actually pay less for the watercraft if you opt to buy a used jet ski instead of a new one. But you don’t want to buy a jet ski that someone else has stolen. You may be compelled to give up the boat and get into trouble with the law as well. You might obviously ask the seller where the boat came from but it’s doubtful he’ll say the truth if the jet ski is stolen.
You’re in luck if you live in a state that allows jet skis to be licensed. You will be able to track the registration to see when and from whom the boat was bought by your seller. But to assess if it has been reported stolen, you’ll still want to run the HIN through a database.
Such a database might be open to the local police, but others do not. And they cannot open it to the public even though they do so. Without their help, you can find what you need, and you’ll find more than one database online. The National Marine Registry is the first one to try. Just type in the number of the HIN and click search.”
You should try the HinDecoder website for a full history of the used jet skis you’re looking at. Via various state databases, it will run the HIN number and include a rundown of the history of the boat, including any collisions, lies and sales, and any reported theft.
How to Look Up Boats Using the Hull Number
A unique hull identification number, known as an HIN, is required for any boat produced in or imported to the United States. An online database, like that run by the U.S., can be used. Coast Guard, to check that the HIN is correct for a boat and to learn the history of the boat.
In the same way that a vehicle identification number identifies a car, the HIN is a 12-character number used to identify a boat. The number of the hull is a combination of numbers and letters.
You have to show the hull identification code on the boat hull in two separate locations under federal regulations. The primary HIN must be located near the top of the transom on the starboard outboard side of the transom. The first HIN must be fixed to the starboard outboard side of the hull, aft, within 1 foot of the stern and near to the top side of the hull, if the boat does not have a transom. The primary HIN code should be affixed to the aft crossbeam within 1 foot of the starboard hull connection on catamarans and pontoon boats (with hulls that are easily removed and replaced).
On the inside of the boat, the second hull identification number must be put in a safe spot. It can be put under some hardware as well.
If you know how to decipher it you will learn quite a bit about the ship from the HIN. Different information is given by each character group. There are three classes of characters, the first three of them the next five of them, and the last four of them.
The Manufacturers Index Code, or MIC, is the first group of three characters. The next group of five digits represents the serial number of the boat that can contain boat length information. The final four character category gives you the year of certification and the boat’s model number. Of these, you are told the month by the first character (with A being January, B February, and so on and the next character lets you know the last digit in the year the boat was accredited. The final two digits give you the year of the model. For instance, if the last group of four characters is A585, this means that the vessel was certified in January 1985 for the 1985 model year.
To check it, you may want to look up the boat’s hull number, or you may want to see its repair history to see if that model has been recalled. Only with a used boat is verification possible. The thief may attempt to escape detection by changing the HIN if a boat has been stolen, but it is a federal offence.
You’ll find some reputable websites that decode the HIN number of a boat free of charge. For instance, you can type in an HIN at hindecoder.com to learn if it is a valid number. It will inform you if not. It will tell you, if it is, who made the boat and its model, serial number and date of certification. If the model was subject to reminders, it will also inform you.
The Port State Information Exchange database is also maintained by the U.S. Coast Guard. It provides information about boats which have sailed in U.S. waters, including recreational boats. This database can be searched using HIN numbers online.
How to Write a Bill of Sale for a Boat
A sales bill records the selling or transfer of a boat from the seller to the buyer and acts as evidence of possession by the buyer. Write a waterproof sales bill by addressing the following questions: who buys and sells the boat, whether the boat is being sold, what the price is and how the boat is being sold, for example, with warranties or simply “as is.” You can provide the bill to the boating licencing agency in your state to get a title and registration for your boat as well as your own insurance agency to insure the vessel.
Start with a prototype instead of designing the bill of sale from scratch. From a legal or business forms website, you can download a boat sales bill-just verify that the template is compliant with your state’s laws before you begin. Under the heading “Buyer.” write the current date and complete buyer address and driver’s license information. The address of the seller and driver’s license information should be specified under the “Seller”
Identify the form and exact size of the boat under the heading ‘Description,’ i.e. the year, build, model, serial number and any distinctive markings. Identify any additional features included in the sale in this section as well. For instance, if a boat trailer is included in the sale, this information should be added. Under the overview heading, all other major devices should be included.
List the vessel’s complete registration number under the heading “Registration information” on your document. This number can be found on the boat’s title documents and printed on the ship’s hull. Make sure the numbers match exactly, because when you try to register the boat on your behalf, you can run into difficulties.
Under a separate heading for “Price.” define the purchase price clearly. The overall cost of the vessel should be included in the price. If a trailer or other machinery is sold, this portion of the boat sales bill can be broken down into components. As you’ll need it for future tax purposes, it is necessary to get this section right.
You may transfer the boat “as is or express guarantees with regard to the condition of the vessel. Be sure to mention whether the boat is sold with or without a warranty and provide for any adjustments to the vessel that the seller may make.
Enable space for both the buyer and the seller on the bill of sale to have full signatures and signature dates. If required by your state, leave additional space to allow for notarized stamps.