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Do Flat Bottom Boats Have Titles?


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Have you ever wondered if Flat Bottom Boats have titles? It’s a perfectly valid question, and essential to know if you plan on purchasing a flat bottom boat or already own one. Or maybe you have a different kind of boat and are wondering about the need for a title? A title is a document that proves your ownership of an item.

Titles are standard for houses or cars, but sometimes the rules around boats’ titles can seem a little unclear. In this article, we will examine the ins and outs of title details for all kinds of boats, and share the answer to what kinds of boats have titles. 


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All pleasure craft legislation happens at the state level, so there is no universal federal rule for boat laws across the United States. Generally, if your flat bottom boat uses oars, a paddle, or a pole for propulsion, it will not require a title. 

If a motor of any kind propels your flat bottom boat, there is a strong chance that you will need to register it at the very least, and maybe even have a title. Make sure to check your specific state laws to confirm the details. 


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Boats come in all shapes, sizes, ages, and abilities, as people do. However, regardless of your boat’s measurements and capabilities, it’s essential to know the laws about boating in your area. It’s also essential to understand the rules applying to your boat connected to title, boat tags, and bills of sale.

No one wants to be spending a relaxing day on the lake with friends and get a ticket for not having the correct paperwork for their boat, right? Read on for more information about how to document your boat responsibly and ensure that you stay on the right side of state law while boating. 


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What States Do Not Require A Title For A Boat?

Legal requirements for boats can vary widely across the United States since they are determined individually by each state. Many states do not require or issue a title for boats, but most demand boat registration occurs with the state.

The difference between a flat bottom boat title and registration is that a title is simply a document that proves your legal ownership of the boat.


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Registration of a boat with your state contributes to the state record of where boats are and who owns them.

Registration fees are also a method for the state to generate income to offset the costs of maintaining boating areas. 


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Here is a list of states that do not require a boat title or issue them: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Hawaii, Kansas, Maine, North Dakota, Puerto Rico, Tennessee, and the Virgin Islands. 

Mississippi and Idaho have titling optional for boats, meaning that boat owners can choose for themselves if they want to have the title issued or not. 

What Size Boat Needs A Title?

Some states require that all boats have a title, regardless of size. These states are Oklahoma, Nevada, South Carolina, Illinois, New Mexico, Rhode Island, Utah, Washington, West Virginia, and Wisconsin. 


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In other states, your boat’s size and design can impact whether or not your state requires a title for it. Many states use the length of a boat to decide if it requires a title or not. Several states require that boat owners request a title if their boats exceed 12 feet in length.

Here is a list of Missouri, Montana, New Jersey, Oregon, and South Dakota.

If your boat is longer then 14 feet in length, you need to have a title if you live in any of these states: Massachusetts, New York, Ohio, and Texas.


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Minnesota and Vermont are the only two states that require a title if your boat is 16 feet in length or more. And Michigan only requires a boat title if it is longer than 20 feet in length unless it has a built-in engine. 

Can I Get A Title For A Boat With A Bill Of Sale?

It is possible to get a title for a boat with your bill of sale if you live in a state that issues title for your kind of boat, depending on size and type. First, you need to look up the boating laws and regulations in your state of residence.

Flat bottom boats titles criteria will vary from state to state.


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If your boat meets the criteria for boats that can have a title (or must have a title) in your state, you need to contact the government agency that handles boat registrations in your area.

In some states, to get your flat bottom boats tiles, this could be the Department of Motor Vehicles. In other instances (and other states), it might be the Department of Fish and Wildlife. 

Furthermore, most state offices will accept your copy of your bill of sale as enough evidence to issue title to you for your boat. Keep in mind that some states also charge fees and require registration, so be prepared with your wallet and personal identification. 


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How Much Are Boat Tags In Each State?

Unlike titles, boat registration is a universal requirement in the United States. Registration is still handled at the state level, so methods and fees vary. However, if you have a boat, you need to be prepared to register it and pay for that registration. 

Your boat tag is your boat registration number. It needs to be visible on your boat’s hull on both sides and painted on or displayed with durable block letter stickers. You also receive a boat registration sticker or decal for your boat that proves your registration and shows when it expires.


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Expiry dates vary from state to state, but validation periods can be as short as a year and as long as three. When your registration expires, you can apply it to renew it and receive a renewal sticker, so there is no need to change the number displayed on your boat.

The cost of registering your boat can vary widely, depending on which state you live in, the registration timeline, the kind of boat you have, and how large it is. In North Dakota, you can register a canoe for one year for $18, regardless of length.

It’s $37 to register your boat in an even year in California and $67 in an odd year. And in Nebraska, it costs $115 to register a boat over 40 feet in length for a year. To find out how much you can expect to pay, check the information for your state of residence. 

Are There Boat Title Exemptions?

The law often has to make an exception, and boat titles can find inclusion in this practice. Often, exemptions apply to some unusual situations. One example of an exemption is in Kentucky, where a boat only needs a title if used in “public” waters. If the boat is in sheltered waters, such as a privately owned lake, it does not need to be titled. 

The state of Indiana has an odd series of situations listed where boat owners can exempt from the boat title requirement:

  1. The vessel is a lifeboat for a ship.
  2. The boat was worth less than $3,000, no title is required.
  3. The boat owner has owned the boat since 1986.
  4. No need for a boat title in Indiana if there is no motor of any kind. 

They clearly state that sailboards, paddleboards, and float tubes are exempt from title requirements in Ohio. Ohio also doesn’t require a title for any boat that is owned by the government. 

The Flat Bottom Line

The requirements for boat title and registration vary widely across the United States. If you consider a boat purchase, it’s best to investigate your individual state’s legislation regarding boat documentation and costs before you make a purchase commitment.

Make sure that when you go looking for information, you get into precisely what type of boat you are interested in and provide the exact measurements. These details can make a big difference in the kind of rules you could expect to follow in your state and in how much you would be required to spend for registration. 

It’s also worth noting that if you are merely interested in a little dinghy to paddle around your local pond, almost every state is exceptionally relaxed in their regulations and requirements. It could be a viable option for anyone who is paperwork-averse.

Boating is an incredibly enjoyable pastime and a unique way to spend time with family and friends. It’s worth doing the leg work now to lay a solid foundation for responsible boat ownership so that next summer, you can ride the waves without a worry!


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