This is written for the sake of documenting the process of “going cruising” from a “How to” standpoint. If you aren’t, then skip this post. Whether you buy a boat from an individual or from a broker, you should know what forms you will need to get your new boat’s ownership documentation transferred from the previous owner to you. There are decisions to be made about where you will call “home”. These differ from State to State, so educate yourself in advance so you won’t end up scrambling for signatures after the closing.
We live in Texas. However, we will soon be cruising and are strongly considering calling St. Petersburg our “home port” in the next year or two. We thought about listing that on our documentation to cut out a step, but decided that we will leave Corpus Christi as our home port, at least for now…
Our new boat held current US Documentation through the US Coast Guard. The USCG requires the use of their own Bill of Sale (Form CG 1340) when transferring ownership, which must accompany form CG 1258 and the appropriate fees which can be paid by credit card (using the form for that…). The entire process is quick and easy assuming that you’ve got these forms signed by the seller at closing. You do not have to send in the executed previous US Documentation certificate if you have the completed Bill of Sale. This saves you money as they charge you by the number of pages you submit. It can all be submitted by faxing the forms with a cover letter to Fax #304-271-2415. DONE! You will receive your certificate which must be kept on board. There are specific requirements for displaying your Official Number as well.
Texas passed a law a few years back that requires boat owners to pay sales tax on boats purchased out of state or show proof of sales tax paid. Before this law was passed, US Documentation could be filed on a vessel in lieu of State Registration. This caused a lot of grief for people who bought their boat outside of the date allowed to dodge the tax for “grandfathered” boats. We paid it on our previous boat. I guess we will be paying it again for Dos Libras, although we really won’t be here forever. You must register your boat in Texas and must show proof that you’ve paid the sales tax to do so. You must go to the Texas Parks and Wildlife and download form PWD 143. This form is used in registering boats in several different situations. It was the right one for us. We also registered the dinghy and the outboard motor. Texas requires the completion of form PWD 504 for outboards even though many other states have no registration/title process for outboard motors.
When selling or purchasing a boat, it is also a good idea to have a signed manifest. This is a list of all of the items that will transfer with the sale of the vessel. Be sure to list everything that isn’t attached permanently to the boat. Otherwise, if it’s visible in the listing photos or if it’s on the boat when you show it to a potential buyer, it goes with the boat. You should list exclusions specifically. This will cut out any issues and takes precedence over verbal representations of items “included in the sale”.
That’s it! You own it… well… after you write that big check that is.