A boat (vessel) bill of sale is a form used in the boat selling process to provide a buyer with proof that they paid a sum of money in exchange for ownership rights to an ocean or lake-based watercraft. A bill of sale is often required in the registration process, as it lets the DMV know that the new owner obtained the boat lawfully.
- Proves ownership of a new or used boat.
- Often required by state DMVs for first-time registrations.
- Can be thought of as a “receipt” for the sale of watercraft.
- New Hampshire
- New Jersey
- New Mexico
- New York
- North Carolina
- North Dakota
- Rhode Island
- South Carolina
- South Dakota
- West Virginia
A boat bill of sale, in conjunction with a title, proves one is the rightful owner of a boat they purchased. It lists what type of boat was sold, the names and addresses of the buyer and seller, how much the boat sold for, and any other useful information the parties want to include. It’s important to know that a title is the true mark of ownership – a bill of sale merely reinforces the fact that the new owner obtained the title legally.
“The two happiest days in a boat owner’s life are the day they buy a boat, and the day they sell it”
Although a joke among boat owners, there lies a considerable amount of truth in the saying above. Make the moment of selling truly special by sticking to the following guide:
When scoping out boats for sale, buyers will often gravitate towards those for sale that need little to no repairs. Not to mention a clean, glimmering boat will separate it from the competition.
Should it be hired out? Not necessarily, although it could be a full or several-day process depending on the size of the boat and the number of hands working. With that said, professional boat detailers will often provide a level of clean difficult to attain by weekend warriors. According to KelleyMobileDetail, professional boat detailing will cost anywhere from $8 to $40 per foot. But remember, if the seller intends to detail their boat themselves, they will need to factor in the cost of purchasing cleaning supplies (if not already owned).
Listing a used boat for a price that matches its value is easier said than done. However, there are resources that make the process easier. Use NADA Guides to receive a ballpark figure as to what the boat is worth. Be honest with the questions it asks. While all boaters want to think their boats are in good or excellent condition, only a few truly earn that mark. Often the best way of identifying a good value for a boat is by searching online for what boats of the same make, model, year, and condition are selling for (see Step 3 for recommended websites).
Factors that affect boat pricing
- Location (geographically)
- Aftermarket parts
Sellers can list their boat for sale online (best option), put their boat in view of heavy foot or vehicle traffic, and/or purchase ads in newspapers and other types of media. Listing online is the most recommended option, as it reaches out to a wide audience of buyers with relatively little cost. The recommended websites for listing a boat include:
- Boats.com – Starting at $30 for two (2) weeks
- BoatTrader.com – Starting at $59 for two (2) weeks
- eBay Motors – Boats – Cost varies on the sale price of the boat
Once the ad is live, shoppers will start to inquire about the boat, and will often request to view it in-person. The amount of effort the seller wants to put into their showing is solely up to them. For particularly expensive boats, bringing the boat on a test-run is common. This shows the prospective buyer that the boat is in good working condition and that the seller is confident in their offering. When a buyer is interested in purchasing, the negotiating can begin. Prior to the negotiations, the seller should determine ahead of time the lowest price they are willing to go. This monetary wall helps the seller know when to put their foot down and reduces the chance they lose out due to a heated sale.
The bill of sale can be completed by either party, although it is customarily filled out by the seller since they are more familiar with the boat being sold. A bill of sale form can be obtained by either:
- Completing an attorney-drafted bill of sale through eSign (easier option); or
- Using our free state-specific bill of sale.
Regardless of the option the seller chooses, the following information will need to be entered into the form:
- Names of the buyer(s) and seller(s).
- Date of the sale.
- Total amount ($) paid for the boat and, if applicable, the trailer/motor.
- The signatures of the buyer(s) and seller(s).
Notarization is optional, although suggested.
The original bill of sale should be provided to the buyer after money changes hands. A copy can be made for additional parties if desired.
- Step 1 – Buyer and Seller
- Step 2 – What was Sold
- Step 3 – Prices
- Step 4 – Signatures
- Step 5 – Notarization (Optional)
At the top of the first (1st) page, enter the names of the buyer(s) and the seller(s). There is typically just one buyer and seller, although two (2) names may be written if the purchase is made by a married couple, for example. Beneath the names, write the day, month, and year the sale is being finalized. Underneath the date, write the amount ($) the buyer is paying in total for the boat, trailer, and/or motor(s).
Depending on what was sold to the buyer, one (1) or all of the checkboxes should be marked. For example, if the buyer is purchasing a boat without an engine, only the first box should be selected. However, if the boat includes a trailer and two (2) engines, all checkboxes should be marked.
If “Boat” was checked, enter the following information:
- Make (e.g., “Lund Boats”)
- Model (e.g., “Fury”)
- Year (e.g., “2012”)
- Length (e.g., “15’2”)
- Title Number (e.g., “A12-45BB”)
- Hull ID Number (e.g., “IN 8691 WZ”)
If “Trailer” was checked, the following will need to be entered:
- Make (e.g., “Bass Cat”)
- Model (e.g., “Sport”)
- Year (e.g., “2018”)
- Axles (e.g., “1”)
- VIN (e.g., “1A2B3C456789DEFGH”)
- License Plate (e.g., “ABC1234”)
Finally, if one (1) or more “Motors” were checked, the following will need to be entered for each:
- Make (e.g., “Mercury”)
- Model (e.g., “1F10201KL”)
- Year (e.g., “2019”)
- HP (e.g., “9.9”)
- Serial Number (e.g., “AX12344BL-9”)
- Engine Hours (e.g., “15”)
For each option selected, enter the price the buyer is paying for each. All of the amounts added together should be equal to the amount entered in Step 1.
At a minimum, the buyer and seller will need to sign their name, enter the signing date, and write their printed name. However, if they want additional proof that they both signed the form, they can have up to two (2) witnesses view the signing of the form. Each witness would need to sign and date their name, and print their name legibly.
Notarization has to be provided by a licensed notary public. If used, a Notary will witness the signing of the buyer and seller, and place a digital or physical stamp onto the document. This adds “weight” to the parties’ signatures, further proving the validity of the form. It can be considered optional in the majority of cases, although the parties should check their local boat registration laws to be sure.