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 of property. When selling a boat, a boat bill of sale is perhaps one of the most important documents you will need to have ready when you’re ready to actually sell your boat. On the flip side, if you’re buying a boat, you’ll want to make sure you have a clear bill of sale along with the title for the vessel and any other equipment being sold to you, such as the trailer and the engine. Let’s take a look at some of the basics of writing a boat bill of sale.
Above: Screenshot of an example Boat Bill Of Sale from Boat Trader. Click to download the above sample boat bill of sale now.
Legal Requirements: Federal, State & Local
Each state in the U.S. may have their own requirements for a bill of sale for a vessel, and it may differ by size, weight and class (such as motorboats versus sailboats versus non-motorized, as well as boats under certain lengths/horsepower). Regardless of your state’s requirements, having a clear bill of sale is always wise because it can protect you legally should any future disputes arise. Plus it helps keep historical record.
Example Boat Bill Of Sale
Boat Trader has provided an example bill of sale that you can download here and edit as needed, to adhere to your local regulations as well as any state and federal laws and guidelines, in order to meet your specific needs. A boat bill of sale should include the information required by your state and local town. There are many templates available online but you can also draft your own but an attorney can also help to prepare a bill of sale.
What A Boat Bill Of Sale Should Include
As a general rule there are a few things that a boat bill of sale must include. Without this basic information your sale could potentially be challenged in court and/or may not even constitute a valid transaction. Not to mention you may face issues when you go to register your boat, get your required boat decals and stickers and pay the appropriate sales taxes and fees. Let’s take a look at the basic information that should be on every boat bill of sale.
Basic Vessel Information And Hull ID (HIN)
First, you will need some required information about the boat you are purchasing, who built it, and when it was constructed. This information includes the following:
Beyond the basic information about the vessel, if you’re buying or selling a motorized vessel, you will likely be required to provide some information about the engine as well. This can include the outboard engine’s horsepower, fuel type, size/displacement and more. For all sales of powerboats (i.e. motorized vessels) we suggest including the following the following information on your bill of sale in regards to the engine(s):
- Engine Brand, Model And Serial #
- Engine Manufacture Date
- Engine Horsepower (or equivalent)
- Engine Size/Displacement (often given in liters, cubic centimeters or cubic inches, depending on size)
Trailer Info & Additional Equipment
Next your bill of sale should include any additional equipment being purchased as part of the transaction. Many used boats will come with a boat trailer and thus you will need to include the information about the trailer as well. Required information for a trailer can vary by state and local jurisdiction, but often trailers will have their own unique VIN or serial number on a manufacturer plate. Generally you should look to include the following information about the trailer on a boat bill of sale:
- Trailer Brand, Model And Serial #
- Trailer Manufacture Date
- Trailer Length And Width
- Trailer Capacity (found on the trailer’s capacity plate usually affixed to the forward left side of the trailer)
- Trailer Axles (trailers with more than single axles – i.e. tandem trailers – may require special permits)
Transaction Details And Date
Your bill of sale should also include a full description of the boat including what type of boat it is, the purchase date, the agreed upon price and the signature of both the boat buyer and boat seller. It should also include contact information (i.e. address and telephone number) for both the seller and buyer.
Get Help From The Pros – Boat Brokers & Dealers
If you’re uncomfortable writing your own bill of sale or managing this aspect of the sales process, you can always consider bringing your boat to a professional boat dealership and seeing if they will offer you a trade-in amount, or sell your boat on consignment. Another alternative would be to work with a yacht broker to help facilitate the process of selling your boat for you to a private buyer. Keep in mind that yacht brokers often get around 10% of the sales price, which may seem high at first, but when you consider all they do and the time they save you, plus the fact they may be able to get a higher price for the boat, it is often worth it (especially in the case of larger vessels).
Download An Example Boat Bill Of Sale