Spring is often prime boat-buying season, but before selling  a boat, you must know that you are not in the free and clear until critical paperwork is done right. BoatUS has a helpful seller’s paperwork to-do list to make sure there are no surprises. 

selling a boat
If you have an EPIRB attached to the boat, make sure it is updated with new owner contact information. Photo courtesy of BoatUS 

1. Cancel the boat insurance policy. This is the first thing most boat sellers do right. It’s super important to cancel a vessel’s insurance policy once the sale goes through. Not doing so potentially adds unnecessary risk and potential liability to the seller. Also don’t forget to cancel any automatic bank payments that were set up to pay policy premiums.

2. Release the DSC-VHF radio’s Maritime Mobile Service Identity (MMSI) number. If you’re selling your boat, remember a key fact about MMSIs: Once issued, the MMSI number stays assigned to the boat (installed VHF radios). The emergency contact information, among other data, requires updating. If a seller forgets to release the MMSI number to the buyer, a future mayday distress aboard the vessel could delay first responders. BoatUS members can release or update an MMSI for no cost at BoatUS.com/MMSI.

3. A seller will need to ensure an Emergency Position-Indicating Rescue Beacon (EPIRB) attached to the boat is updated with new owner contact information. To update an EPIRB go to NOAA’s Beacon Registration site and change the status to “Sold/Transferred.” Once this happens, the new owner can register the beacon in their name with their own emergency contact information.

4. Contact the state boat registration agency to advise them that the boat was sold. Sending a letter by mail or email to your state’s boat registration agency acknowledging the boat has a new owner may help prevent future misdirected registration renewal notices. In some states it is a legal requirement to report any change in vessel ownership status within a certain number of days with the name of the purchaser, purchase price, and date of sale.

For more tips, check out the BoatUS free Boat Buying and Selling Guide at boatus.com/guide.