Boat Bill of Sale Form

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A boat bill of sale is a document used to record the change of ownership of a watercraft. A boat bill of sale may be used for any motorized or non-motorized vessel and is required in most jurisdictions in order to register after purchase. Once the document is signed, the sale becomes final whether or not the funds have been given to the seller. Therefore, it’s highly recommended the seller does not authorize a bill of sale until they are paid in full.

Table of Contents

By State

What is a Boat Bill of Sale?

A boat bill of sale is used when you have made the decision to sell your boat and is one of the many essential documents needed to make the transfer of title successful. Whether purchasing or selling a boa, a bill of sale must be included in the transaction. A bill of sale helps protect the buyer from accusations of fraud by showing proof of payment in good faith while also protecting the Seller if any problems are to arise after the sale.


Common Types (10)

  • Canoe
  • Catamaran
  • Kayak
  • Jet Ski
  • Motor/powerboat
  • Row boat
  • Sailboat
  • Skiff
  • Tugboat
  • Yacht


What Should be Included?

Information pertaining to the following subjects is needed prior to completing your Boat bill of sale:

  • Boat Details – The boat’s condition and specifics which include the Make, Year, Title Number, Hull ID, and Odometer reading are to be inscribed in the bill of sale. If there is a trailer and/or a motor also being bought/sold in the sale, including the specifics of those items.
  • Buyer’s Details – The Name and Signature of the purchasing party.
  • Seller Details – The Name and Signature of the party offering an item of purchase.
  • Purchase Price – The amount to be given from the buyer to the seller in exchange for the vessel.
  • Location – In the Certificate of Acknowledgement, name the County and State in which the transaction takes place.

How to Buy/Sell a Boat

Before we can divulge into the bill of sale process, we need to learn the proper steps prior to completing a bill of sale. This explanation is written in the eyes of the seller.

Step 1 – Decide what You’re Selling

When an individual decides to sell their boat he or she must decide what will be going along with the boat including, but not limited to, outboard motor(s), trailer(s), life jackets, and other gear. Whether or not these items are included will determine the final value of the sales price depending if it’s wanted by the buyer.

Step 2 – How Much is Your Boat Worth?

This will most likely be the most difficult part of the process. Most owners know, more or less, the value of their boat. In the chance you do not know the value, using can give you a general range of what to look for. Otherwise, a seller’s best bet is to look up what the exact make, model, and year of the boat is selling for in your market.

Step 3 – Listing the Boat for Sale

The first (1st) question to ask yourself is, “do I need a broker?”

Hiring a Broker – Generally, if the boat will be selling for more than $40,000 then it’s best to hire a broker at a local marina. They will not only list it for the fair market value but also clean the boat and presentable to potential buyers.

Selling it Yourself – If the value is under $40,000 then it’s advised to sell the boat yourself. Most brokers will not accept a boat lower than this amount.

In either case, if the seller decides to list the boat on their own it’s best to use the following websites (6):

Before you even think about listing your boat online or with a broker, it’s a good idea to clean and brush up your boat, whether that’s by making cost-worthy repairs or by hiring a cleaning service to give your boat the best opportunity to sell. First impressions can go a long way.

Step 4 – Presenting the Boat to Buyers

Depending on the location of the boat it can be a challenge to show to potential buyers. For example, if your boat is on a mooring, it will be harder for potential buyers to see its exterior as you will need to skiff people to and from the boat every time someone wants to take a look. The best possible option is to have your boat stationed to a dock for easy access, this way buyers can get a true sense of what it’s like to be on your boat in the water.

If docking is not a viable option, the next best and cheapest way of viewing is to park your boat on land. Either placed in a trailer or positioned on a stand.

Step 5 – Completing Negotiations

All States require that a boat bill of sale form (Download) be signed by the buyer and seller in order to complete the sale. The parties may also use the form to record the sale of the outboard motor and trailer. Copies of the should be given to each party with the buyer requiring a copy for registering and obtaining title with the State.

Step 6 – The Transaction

At closing, the parties should provide:

  • Buyer – Payment.
  • Seller – Title (signed over to the buyer) and any current registration documents.

The buyer and seller will have to negotiate which party will be subject to the sales tax (%). In most transactions, this is split between the parties.

Step 7 – Buyer Registers the Boat

In most States, the buyer is required to immediately register the boat after the sale has been completed. This is commonly completed by providing the State with the signed bill of sale and title forms along with any registration documents. Depending on the State, there may be a sales tax which is required to be paid at this time. If the seller accepted partial responsibility for it, it still must be paid by the buyer.

How to Write

Download in Adobe PDF, Microsoft Word (.docx), or Open Document Text (.odt).

1. Location Of Sale

(1) Bill Of Sale Date. Some basic facts surrounding the boat transaction must be established for proper reference (and proof) in the future. The date when this paperwork is completed with the specifics of this sale should be recorded.

(2) County And State Of Sale.  

2. The Parties

(3) Boat Buyer. The Purchaser of the boat or sea vessel must be identified by name and mailing address. Make sure the mailing address recorded is up-to-date.

(4) Seller Of Vessel. The Boat Owner or Dealer who will release his or her ownership of the concerned vessel to the Buyer according to the terms and pricing of this paperwork must be named as well. The Boat Owner or Boat Dealer’s mailing address should be paired with the Seller’s identity.

3. The Exchange

(5) Cash Payment. It must be indicated if the Boat Owner or Boat Dealer expects payment from the Buyer in exchange for the sea vessel or boat. A statement expecting documentation of the US Dollar (USD) amount the Buyer must submit should be selected to establish that this is a money or cash transaction.

(6) Trade-In Payment. Boat Sellers, or especially Boat Dealers, may help the Buyer offset the price of the vessel being sold by accepting Buyer’s boat as a substitution for some or all of the payment the Buyer must submit. This option can be set as the payment terms by marking the appropriate checkbox and recording the dollar amount that the Buyer must submit in addition to the trade-in.

(7) Trade-In Information. If a trade-in vessel will be accepted in lieu of money for part or all of the boat payment, then the information needed to identify it should be documented in this paperwork. Begin with a production of the Trade-In Manufacturer’s name (known as the vessel’s make), continue with the year it was produced, then the title number. This information, as well as the boat trade-in’s hull ID number and odometer reading, can be found with a visual inspection of the vessel and a review of the trade-in’s boat title.

(8) Vehicle As Gift. The Boat Seller, Boat Dealer, or Boat Owner may be releasing this vessel as a gift to a Private Party or an Organization or Business (i.e. a charity). An option to document this as the reason behind this transaction is available but requires the value of the Seller’s boat (being sold) to be recorded in USD.

4. Boat/Motor(s)/Trailer Description

(9) Boat. The vessel being sold must be identified for our purpose. The name of the Manufacturer (i.e. the make), the year of the vessel’s manufacture, its title number, hull ID number, and odometer reading must be documented. A physical inspection of the hull will enable a report on these values while the title number can be transcribed from the boat’s title.

(10) Trailer Description. Several additional pieces of equipment may be included in the boat transaction being discussed. If so, then some basic information regarding such equipment is necessary. In a case where a trailer will be purchased with the boat, its make, year, VIN number, and license plate number will need to be documented in this form. A visual inspection of the trailer will yield this information. The license plate will be on the frame in the rear while the VIN is typically found on a decal near the front of the frame.

(11) Motor Description. The motor(s) on the Seller’s boat will also need to be documented with the make, year of manufacture, horsepower, and the serial number of each motor being sold. The make, model, and serial number can be found on a plate typically located on the side of the motor.

5. Values

(12) Price Breakdown. The pricing of the Seller’s boat, motors, and trailer should be recorded separately. If two motors are on the boat, then record their combined total.

(13) Total. The total amount of money expected by the Boat Seller from the Buyer should be dispensed. This number should be equivalent to the previous entries summed to a single value. If Boat Seller expects the Buyer to submit sales tax directly with this payment, then these taxes should be included in the total as well.

6. Taxes

(14) Boat Sales Tax Status.  A statement declaring whether the Boat Seller has included the taxes required by the concerned jurisdiction in the purchased-rice should be tended to. A checkmark placed just before the appropriate phrase in this statement will allow a report to be dispensed easily.

8. Authorization

(15) Buyer Signature. The Boat Buyer must formally agree to meeting the conditions needed to gain ownership of the vessel. This will require the demonstrated proof of intent that a signature provides thus, the Boat Buyer must sign this completed form to formally accept the defined pricing.

(16) Signature date Of Buyer. The Buyer’s executed signature requires the current date distributed.

(17) Buyer Name. The printed name of the Buyer should be displayed to show when he or she has agreed to the boat transaction’s required payment.

(18) Seller Signature. The Boat Seller must also show his or her willingness to carry out this transaction by releasing his or her vessel to the Buyer once the payment conditions are met. To this end, the Boat Seller must complete the signature line by signing it.

(19) Date Of Seller Signature.

(20) Seller Name.

(21) Notary Acknowledgment. The signatures provided to this document should be observed by a Notary Public. This Party will utilize the last section to notarize the execution of this transaction record.