What’s in a Bill of Sale for a Boat and Who Needs It

Bill of Sale for a Boat

Have you been searching for an official “USCG Bill of Sale” form? Ever wondered why our vessel documentation site doesn’t provide a readily available boat bill of sale form? There’s a simple reason for that: there’s no such thing as an official “bill of sale for a boat.” Instead, it’s something that you have to write up yourself. As the National Documentation Portal is a resource in addition to a hub of documents, below you’ll find what you need for a bill of sale. 

Bill of Sale for a Boat Basics

At its core, a bill of sale serves as the documentation between a private buyer and seller in a boat transaction, a “handshake,” if you will. It covers a broad spectrum, accommodating sales of sailboats, powerboats, and any watercraft that isn’t documented. 

While some states might not mandate a bill of sale for legal completion of a sale, it’s a wise move to have one in your arsenal. Think of it as your nautical insurance policy — providing tangible proof that the transaction did, indeed, take place, shielding you from potential problems down the maritime road.

Essential Components of a Bill of Sale

Now, what should you cram into this vessel transaction testament? Start with the basics: your name, the other party’s name, along with their contact information and address. 

Next, lay out a detailed description of the vessel itself. Length, make, model, brand, manufacturing date, HIN (Hull Identification Number) — leave no nautical stone unturned. If you’re pondering, “Should I include the state registration number?” in the bill of sale for a boat. The answer is a resounding yes. And don’t forget the trailer if it’s part of the deal.

In fact, it’s hard to have too much information in a bill of sale. If you think there’s another detail that might matter, put it in, too. 

Selling Documented Vessels

To be clear, the above advice is tailored for the undocumented vessels. Vessels that have been documented with the United States Coast Guard have to be dealt with differently. 

If your prized possession is a documented vessel, use our site’s “Transfer” form. This form is right for selling or buying a documented vessel while smoothly navigating the regulatory waters. You can’t sell a documented vessel with a bill of sale. You need an official form for the proper transfer of a documented vessel’s ownership. 

All Aboard the Documentation Express

Once you’ve sealed the deal, peruse our collection of forms to acquire or renew vessel documentation. Need a mortgage to anchor your dreams? We can help you there. Indeed, we designed our site to be a one-stop shop for all things vessel documentation, ensuring you sail through the bureaucratic concerns with ease.

Whether you’re navigating the uncharted waters of undocumented vessels or steering through the documented seas, we’ve got the forms and guidance to keep you afloat. The National Documentation Portal offers a wealth of forms to help you through every stage of documented vessel ownership. To see what we offer, click here.

Bill of Sale for a Boat