Boat Bill of Sale

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The boat bill of sale is a form that documents the sales transaction of a boat. It formally transfers ownership of the craft from one person to another. Sometimes called a boat purchase agreement, this document formalizes and details the terms of the transaction. It works like other forms of bills of sale. The boat bill of sale is specific to boats, both those with and without motors.

Boat Bill of Sale Template

By State

A private seller from a dealership will include a bill of sale for the boat. A private seller offering a used boat will need to find a boat bill of sale as well.

The boat bill of sale operates just like other bills of sale. A person buying a used car will receive a bill of sale. A bill of sale is used when a person buys an animal, like a horse. They are proof that the legal ownership of the item is moving from one person to another. It is the specifications that vary from each.

A boat bill of sale is quite similar to other vehicular bills of sale. It closely resembles the car bill of sale. The seller will need to note the same information.

  • Personal information of the seller
  • Personal details of the buyer
  • Make and model
  • Odometer/hours reading
  • Year of manufacture
  • Date
  • Amount Paid

The boat bill of sale requires a few specific pieces of information. The seller must include the

  • length of the boat
  • hull identification number.
  • state registration number

The boat must be either state or federally registered, but not both.  Different states require different components, but all states require that the boat gets registered with the state. Not all boats need to be registered. Kayaks, canoes, and other human-propelled boats do not need to be registered and therefore do not require a bill of sale. The boat bill of sale is for all boat sales or any major money transaction.

The bill of sale acts as a transfer of ownership. A bill of sale for a boat should be used in every state. In some states, the bill of sale needs to be notarized. Florida is a state that requires a notary while Washington does not, unless by mail. Research the state-specific requirements for the boat bill of sale.

Drafting a Boat Bill of Sale

Those in need of a boat bill of sale have two options. The easiest option is to download a free boat bill of sale online. The second option is to draft one. For the most part, all boat bills of sale follow the same guidelines.

A free, printable boat bill of sale is available online for every state. These templates have all the specific information details required by the state.

Where to Find a Free Boat Bill of Sale

The ideal place to get and use a free boat bill of sale is from a government website. The DMV provides boat bill of sale templates for free. State-specific bills of sale are preferred as they have all their particular information listed. These are found easily by searching the Internet for “boat bill of sale + state”

Drafting a boat bill of sale is an option when selling a boat that does not need to be registered. The government-provided templates have sections that are not necessary for these transactions.

Some information can be omitted when selling boats like canoes and kayaks if the seller is drafting their bill of sale. Examples of unnecessary information are the hull identification number, registration number, year, and length.

Boat Bill of Sale Breakdown

A bill of sale should only begin after the terms of the transactions have been agreed upon. Once the seller has found a buyer and agreed on a price, they can choose which boat bill of sale they will use. A free online template or drafting their own.

Even before securing payment, a seller can begin filling out a bill of sale by using a deposit. A deposit can provide peace of mind for both buyer and seller. The boat may need to get inspected for repairs before full payment. The bill of sale can start to be drafted at this point.

Seller Information

A boat bill of sale starts with the personal information of the seller. The seller will include their name, address, and contact information. Contact information will be either email or phone number, often both.

Buyer Information

This section is filled out by the individual purchasing the boat. It includes all the same information that the seller fills out.

Boat Information

The seller fills out the necessary boat information. This section is the specifications of the boat.

Brand, Model, Make

This section may vary depending on the template. The language is what will be different, but the idea is the same. All boat bills of sale will require this information.

Include the company that manufactures the vessel and the model. Sometimes, the type of boat will be required. Indicate if the boat is a dingy, fishing boat, catamaran, etc.

In addition, include the year of the manufacture.


The length is a requirement specific to the boat bill of sale. Boats are measured lengthwise, tip-to-tip.

Hull Identification Number

All boats manufactured in the U.S come with a hull identification number (HIN). The number is at the stern. They are all a twelve-character identification.

The ID number has three components.

  • a three-letter manufacturer number
  • Five characters serial number
  • Month and year of production

The HIN is full of information for the boat bill of sale. This includes the manufacturer and year of production.

Registration Number

The state or federal government registers all boats.

State registration numbers are located on either side of the boat. They take the form of the first two letters indicating the state, four numbers, and two letters.

Federal registration numbers are located around the boat. They are on parts of the boat visible when it is in the water.

If not found, call the state with the HID.


Indicate the agreed-upon price of the boat.

Sometimes, there is a section to indicate a deposit. The deposit is part of the overall final price.

Date and Signature

The boat bill of sale is complete once the document is dated and signed.


If the boat is sold with a motor, it needs to be on the bill of sale. The information is less comprehensive than the boat. The price can be indicated separately or included in the final price as an addition.

The motor has four pieces of information required.

  • Manufacturer
  • Year
  • Horsepower
  • Serial Number

All this information is on the engine.


If a trailer is sold with the boat, it needs a separate section. The state does not require a separate bill of sale for the trailer. The trailer needs its section for the price. It is not to be included in the price of the boat.

There are three necessary pieces of information needed for the trailer.

  • Manufacturer
  • Year
  • Vehicle Identification Number

Some free bills of sale for boats have additional pieces of information required for a trailer. The weight and license plate, for example.


No. The boat bill of sale is the prerequisite for obtaining the title. A title for the boat is the certification of ownership as seen by the government. The boat bill of sale is proof of transfer and must be signed before a title is given.

The title is not required in all states. The title is to prove legal possession of the boat in the event of theft.

A state may require the boat to be titled depending on the size, horsepower, or type of boat. No matter the reason, the boat bill of sale is required to title.

Some equipment needs to be specified on the boat bill of sale. Trailers and motors need their section if they are part of the transaction.

Electronics, spare props, and recreational equipment, if part of the deal, do not need sections on the bill of sale.

Some templates have subsections where the seller can list any additional equipment that is part of the transaction. This is where the seller can list out whatever small equipment is included. It is not technically required. A boat bill of sale drafted from scratch should include a section for additional equipment.

Some states require the boat bill of sale to be notarized. If this is the case, there are two options. The seller can visit an institution like a bank, law firm, or notary public. Physically delivering the bill of sale is more effort, but often less expensive.

The easier option is a digital signature. There are websites online that provide digital signatures for digital documents. These are more expensive than a public notary, but only require the seller to send the signed boat bill of sale digitally.