Documentation Needed To Sell A Boat: Be Ready!

There are many things to consider when selling a boat. From writing a personable ad that will make your boat sound like a dream come true to choosing the right online platform and liaising with potential buyers. Knowing exactly what documents you need to sell your boat and preparing them in advance will help you.

Prior To The Sale:

Commissioning a marine survey of your boat will help to determine the condition of your boat and it’s actual market value. The older and larger the boat, the more useful it is to keep this document up-to-date. When choosing a surveyor ensure to choose a service provider that is widely accepted and thorough.

For The Sale:

Bill Of Sale

A bill of sale is a document that outlines the terms of a transaction between a private seller and a buyer and legally transfers the ownership. There are templates available online but you can also draft your own, so long as it includes the information required by your state. An attorney can also help to prepare a bill of sale but as a general rule a bill of sale must include a description of the boat and hull number, purchase date, price, and the signature of both buyer and seller. It should also include contact information for both, seller and buyer.

Warranty Documentation

A warranty on a boat sale is a proof that there are no outstanding claims against the boat. New boats are sold with a manufacturer’s guarantee however selling a used boat often happens on ‘as is’ basis meaning that the buyer agrees to finalize the deal based on the condition of the boat on the day of the purchase. Some buyers may find this lack of security daunting so you may want to consider a warranty. If you decide to offer a warranty to your potential buyers then you will need to consider the terms you are willing to provide. Do you accept a return? If so, how long for? On what terms?

Maintenance Records

Keeping detailed records of your annual maintenance is always a good idea. That includes any repainting or cleaning you might have done over the years. All maintenance records should be handed over at the time of the sale.

Proof Of Loan Repayment (if appropriate)

Selling a boat with a loan on it is possible as long as the buyer is ok with it. You will need to present the buyer with a clear plan on how and when you will pay off your loan. You may want to repay your loan with the money from the sale, in which case, to reassure your potential buyer you might want to consider providing additional statements from the institution you have used to finance your boat. If the buyer is still uneasy, consider accompanying them to your loan provider and ask for a delegated employee to explain the process.

Getting A Title For A Boat

Selling a boat to a buyer in a different state may call for more desk work. It is legal in some states for a boat to not have a title but if your state allows it, it is a good idea to title your boat. A title proves that the boat does in fact belong to you and many buyers will inquire about it. It may often be more difficult for a new owner to apply for a new title without a previous title.

Proof of Compliance With The RCD (Recreational Craft Directive)

Check if your boat needs to be RCD compliant. RCD is a European directive which certifies your boat’s eligibility for sale and use in Europe. It may take some research to set a clear line of action on the matter, so it could be a good idea to talk to a consultant.

VAT Invoice Receipt

Not being able to provide the necessary VAT documents may delay the sale. Having the original VAT receipt is usually most desireable. In the case of an older boat, possessing the right documentation not to mention the originals may prove difficult. If that’s the case, it may be useful to contact an experienced broker who will be able to trace it for you.

After The Sale:

Remember to cancel your insurance. Some companies may be able to cancel your contract on the day of the sale. When you’ve finalized the transaction and your boat is off the market make sure to remove all the ads.

The bottom line is, being diligent about your documents is the best way to keep this process as fuss free as possible. Paperwork is just a formality and having everything ready to go will help to make the sale quick and easy!

Written by: Emma Coady

Emma Coady is a freelance writer and marine journalist who creates content for many household names in the boating industry, including YachtWorld, Boat Trader and She also writes for several boat builders as well as charter and rental companies and regularly contributes to Greenline Hybrid yachts, TJB Super Yachts and Superyachts Monaco. Emma is the founder of Cloud Copy and enjoys traveling around Europe, spending as much of her spare time as possible in or on the water.


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