What is a Bill of Sale for Boats?

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  • Written By: Pablo Garcia
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 15 February 2020
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In the US, a bill of sale for boats is a legal document used between the seller and the buyer in boat purchases. A bill of sale includes information pertinent to the transaction, such as date of purchase, sale price and the names of the buyer and seller. The document is drafted for the purpose of protecting both parties to the transaction. The buyer may use it as proof of purchase of the boat.

Although the bill of sale for boats form may vary among state jurisdictions, it generally contains identifying information about both the parties, such as names, addresses, phone numbers, and other contact information. The bill of sale also has identifying information about the boat itself, including a description of the boat, its make and model and the year of manufacture. It will also include the boat’s identification and registration numbers. Warranty information about the boat may be included in the bill of sale in some jurisdictions.

A bill of sale for boats will have some sort of legal declaration indicating that the boat owner is transferring legal title and ownership to the buyer of the vessel. The parties to the transaction must sign and date the document, and the parties must have it notarized at signing. The terms of the sale then become binding on both parties.


In most states, the buyer must produce the bill of sale for boats in order to register the boat in her name. The bill of sale is considered proof of ownership for registration purposes. If the buyer did not pay the sales tax at the time of purchase, she must pay the tax at the time of registration.

The seller will generally be more familiar with the history and condition of the boat than the buyer will. Boat buying guides recommend that the buyer carefully inspect the vessel before signing a bill of sale for boats. This is recommended regardless of what the condition the boat appears to be. The buyer should make a careful examination of the boat’s engine, electrical parts, and deck hardware.

A buyer should also check the boats mileage, ask to look at any maintenance records, and review any warranty carefully. When inspecting a boat, looking for mismatched paint is important. This could indicate that the boat was in an accident. If there are watermarks inside the boat or on the engine, the vessel may have at some point taken on a lot of water. There should not be “soft spots” when walking the deck, this could indicate structural damage or a need for repairs.


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