Sunday, June 16, 2024

How Do I Register My Boat In Tennessee

Taxation Of Car And Boat Sales

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Typically, automobile and boat sales in Tennessee are subject to sales or use tax. The few exceptions to this rule are when vehicles or boats are sold:

  • between spouses, siblings, lineal relatives or spouses of lineal relatives *
  • between spouses as a result of divorce
  • from a sole proprietors business to the sole proprietor personally, or by an individual converting his/her vehicle to their sole proprietor business
  • vehicles jointly owned by individuals who get the vehicles title issued in only one of their names
  • as a gift* from one individual to another without any kind of consideration
  • directly to a Tennessee qualified nonprofit entity and
  • directly to the federal government, the state of Tennessee, Tennessee county or municipality or an agency of these governments.

More information on sales and use taxes related to car and boat transfers may be found here.

When Registration Has Expired

Your registration expires if you dont pay the registration fee by the expiry date.

If your registration has expired, your boat or PWC is unregisteredand possibly uninsureduntil the fee is paid. If you operate an unregistered boat you can be fined.

You have 3 months to renew your registration after the expiry date. After this date, you will need to apply for a new registration.

Should you renew your registration during the 3 month grace period, your registration will be backdated to the anniversary date of the expired registration. A late renewal fee will apply. If you don’t want this to happen, you may apply for a new registration.

Registration By Dealers Or Manufacturers

Dealers or manufacturers may apply for registration which can be transferred from one vessel to another. A copy of the business license and sales tax number must accompany the application for a dealer or manufacturer number. Such vessels are to be used for demonstration purposes only and more than one vessel may not be operated simultaneously with the same number. In addition, vessels being demonstrated must have the Certificate of Number on board and the registration number must be correctly displayed. However, such vessels may display the number by having it attached to removable signs which can be temporarily but firmly attached to the vessel. Both original and renewal dealer/manufacture registrations must come to the central office in Nashville and cant be renewed online.

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Exemptions From Boat Registration And Titling In Alabama

Boats that do not require registration and titling in Alabama vary according to the type of boat and its use. No title is required for any boat owned in Alabama, and some vessels are also exempt from registration. If you are wondering which boats are exempt from registration in Alabama, consult the following list. Common exemptions include:

  • Vessels operating under a valid temporary certificate of number.
  • A vessel bearing a legally-issued number from another state, as long as it has not been in Alabama for more than 90 consecutive days.
  • Vessels under registration from another country that are temporarily using Alabama waters.
  • Vessels owned by the United States, or a state, county or municipality.
  • A ships lifeboat.

In addition, all vehicles not propelled by machinery, such as sailboats, are exempt from boat registration in Alabama as long as they are for private use and not for rent or hire.

Tennessee Boat Registration Fees

Norris Lake » DSCN2434

If you are wondering about registration costs, you should know that boat registration fees in Tennessee are statewide, and do not vary by county. Boat registration costs in Tennessee are as follows:

  • Vessels 16 and under: $13 $24 $35
  • Vessels 16 to less than 20: $25 $48 $71
  • Vessels 26 to less than 40: $38 $72 $107
  • Vessels 40 or longer: $51 $97 $142

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Vessels From Private Sellers

In general, to register a vessel bought from a private seller in Tennessee, you’ll need to submit the following:

  • A completed boat registration application, available only at your local county clerk’s office.
  • After paying sales tax, the county clerk will stamp your application as proof.
  • The bill of sale, to include:
  • The boats’s make, model year, hull identification number, and building materials.
  • Signatures from the buyer AND seller.
  • Then, you can turn in the required items above:

    • By mail OR in person to the address on your application for boat registration.
    • Online by uploading your registration application on the TWRA’s registration system.

    NOTE: Certain TN counties may require additional items to register boats bought from private sellerscall your county clerk’s office to confirm you have all the required materials.

    Boater Safety Courses In Tennessee

    All boaters are required to take a safety course if they plan to operate a vessel with more than 8.5 horsepower or a sailboat that has a secondary motorized method of propulsion. This Tennessee boating safety course law is only applicable to residents born after January 1, 1989. While there are many ways to take an official boater safety course in Tennessee, the most convenient option is usually an online class.

    Boating safety education is required of anyone 12 and older operating a vessel, and boaters must possess the Boating Safety Education Certificate on their person while boating. Boating safety exams will not be administered to anyone under the age of 12, nor will certification be issued. Keep in mind that it is illegal to operate a vessel powered by more than 8.5 horsepower without this certification.

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    What If I Am Missing Something

    The key to successfully registering a boat is providing adocumented path of ownership. If your state issued a title for the jon boat youare trying to register this is generally the means of doing this. The title, ifissued in the name of the seller, proves that persons right to sell the boatto you. Because the same process would have been followed when that sellerfirst obtained that title and so on back to the original owner the title, alongwith the sellers signature & bill of sale, prove path of ownership up toand including you.

    But what if you do not have a title? Honestly, this can be a difficult hurdle to overcome. Again, it depends on the specific state and why you do not have a title.

    Here are some of the more common reasons your newly acquired jon boat may not come with a title and how to rectify the problem:

    Never Titled

    if the boat was never titled, which is usually due todiffering requirements when moving a boat from one state to another, simplyapply in the state where you are located and supply whatever supportingdocuments are required.

    Seller Lost Title

    If the person selling the boat has a title but can not findit the easiest, and often only, recourse is for the seller to apply for aduplicate title and then provide that to you. Most states will NOT allow youthe buyer to apply for this replacement title.

    Seller Refuses to Provide Title

    Seller Was Not Last Title Holder

    Outstanding Lien

    Boat Was Titled/Registered in Another State

    Complete Affidavit of Ownership

    Bill Of Sale For Boat

    What do you need to register boat in Arkansas?

    A Bill of Sale for a boat must have adequate information to positively link the BOS to the boat, similar to the example WRD BOS.

    Owners of Georgia registered boats must notify the Department, in writing, of sale or transfer, theft or recovery, or destruction or abandonment of a boat within 15 days.

    The following should be on the BOS:

    • GA or Other State Registration Number
    • HIN #
    • Hull Material
    • Sellers and Buyers Signature

    It is a judgment call whether WRD believes the BOS received is adequate to link the vessel to the BOS in a reasonably sufficient manner, or whether other documents such as a transferred title, a manufacturers statement of origin, or other information supports the submitted BOS. A BOS does not have to be witnessed OR notarized, although this is acceptable.

    If it is determined that a BOS is not available at all or is not adequate, the customer should obtain an adequate BOS. If a BOS cannot be obtained, the Affidavit of Vessel Ownership process may be completed.

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    Boats 15m Or More In Length

    If your boat is 15m or more in length applications for new registration, transfer of ownership or change of boat details must be endorsed by Maritime Safety Queensland before the registration can be processed by Transport and Main Roads. Email your completed Queensland regulated ship registration application to for endorsement, or take the application to a transport and motoring customer service centre or, if you live in a rural area, a QGAP office, Magistrates Court or local police station that provides registration services.

    Tn Boat Registration Renewals & Replacements

    Your Tennessee boat registration will be valid for 1 year, 2 years, OR 3 years, depending on what you choose. Before your registration expires, the TWRA will send you a renewal notification.

    You can renew your vessel registration:

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    With The Online Vessel Registration System You Can:

    • View/Manage Your Current Vessel Registration Records and Check the Status of Pending Vessel Applications.
    • Renew Existing Registrations in Your Name Online Using a Debit / Credit Card .
    • Upload Your completed Application for Boat Certificate of Number certified by a TN County Clerk or TN boat dealer to complete your first-time registration.
    • Submit & Pay for Your Application Online .

    Renewing a registration that does not involve a change of ownership

    Renewals can be done online. You may also renew instantly by going to any business that sells TWRA hunting and fishing licenses or any of the TWRA Regional Offices in Jackson, Nashville, Crossville, or Morristown. You must have the boat registration TN number and the license agent will ask for your last name, date of birth, and last 4 of your SSN. You will receive a temporary registration which will allow you to operate your boat until your new decals and registration card arrive by mail, in about 2 weeks.

    Auto Renew for Vessels

    Hull Number Correction Information

    Norris Lake » DSCN2432

    The U.S. Coast Guard has mandated that all registered vessels in the State of Tennessee provide a properly formatted Hull Identification Number to TWRA.

    The Hull Identification Number is a 12 character serial number that uniquely identifies a boat and is formatted according to US Coast Guard standards. The HIN is similar to the VIN on a car. Vessels manufactured or imported before 1973 are EXEMPT because they often do not have a HIN. All boats manufactured or imported after 1972, must have a HIN, and this HIN must be identified during the boat registration process. HIN numbers are typically located:

    • On sport and fishing boats, they can be found on the back right outside corner.
    • On pontoons, they can be found on the right side of the frame above the pontoon, but below the deck.
    • On personal watercraft, they can be found under the seat as well as on the lip of the footrest.

    If you are unable to locate the HIN number in any of these locations, photos of these areas of the vessel will be required.

    Customers with an invalid HIN may renew their boats but within the next three years, our system may decline these renewals and any new owner applications in order to comply with the Agencys Coast Guard deadline.

    It is imperative to correct these numbers in the system before that deadline.

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    Boat Is Registered In Another State

    From a vessel title state: Buyer should obtain a detailed bill of sale from the seller and the original out of state title showing transfer to their name, and the original state registration card if available. All transfers of ownership must be on the title.

    From a non-title state: Buyer should obtain a detailed bill of sale from the seller and the original state registration card. The seller should be the owner if record in that state, and if not bills of sale back to the owner of record must be submitted.

    All are Title States/Territories except those below.

    Non-Title States and Territories :

    • Alabama

    What Is A Hull Identification Number

    The Hull Identification Number is a 12 or 14 character serial number that uniquely identifies a boat. The HIN is analogous to a VIN on a car. All boats manufactured or imported on or after November 1, 1972, must bear a HIN, and this HIN must be identified during the boat registration process. Vessels manufactured or imported before 1972 are EXEMPT because they often do not have a HIN.

    The HIN is found on a metal or plastic plate, typically on the transom of the boat, usually on the right starboard side of the transom within two inches of the top of transom, gunwale, or hull/deck joint, whichever is lowest. On vessels without transoms, or impractical to use transoms, the HIN is usually affixed to the starboard outboard side of hull, aft, within one foot of the stern and within two inches of the top of the hull side, gunwale or hull/deck joint, whichever is lowest. On catamarans and pontoon boats with replaceable hulls, the HIN is usually affixed to the aft crossbeam, within one foot of the starboard hull attachment.

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    How Do I Get A Hull Identification Number

    • Boat owners should use every effort to determine if a boat has an existing HIN or resolve problems with a HIN for use in the registration process.
    • A HIN is required for boats manufactured after November 1, 1972. If the HIN is unavailable and unknown, the boat owner must first contact the boat manufacturer to obtain a replacement HIN .
    • If the HIN is known but the plate is missing or the HIN not inscribed on the boat, the boat owner is responsible for permanently affixing the HIN to the boat.
    • If the HIN is an improper format, the applicant will be asked to electronically upload or send a picture or pencil tracing of the HIN to DNR for verification and further instruction.
    • If the manufacturer is out of business or will not assist the boat owner, a DNR HIN Inspection is necessary. DNR will assign a HIN number after the inspection process and the boat owner is responsible for permanently affixing the HIN to the boat. Information on arranging an inspection can be found at .

    Watercraft & Boat Trailers

    How To Get Your Boating License in the USA in 3 MINUTES

    All boats should be registered in the State of Tennessee. Sales tax is only collected at our main office, 700 2nd Ave South, Suite 101, Nashville, TN 37210, between the hours of 8 a.m. 4 p.m. Sales tax on watercrafts can be collected at any of our offices. To read more about boating in Tennessee click here.


    Boat fees are shown on form APPLICATION FOR BOAT CERTIFICATE OF NUMBER and are made payable to: Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency. Fees cannot be transferred or refunded.


    If a boat and/or trailer is purchased from a Tennessee dealer, the Davidson County Clerks Office does not collect the Tennessee State Sales Tax. The dealer will issue form APPLICATION FOR BOAT CERTIFICATE OF NUMBER to the customer after certifying payment of sales tax on the form. If the dealer does not have the form in stock, please contact the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency at 781-6522. The form may also be obtained from the Davidson County Clerks office at 700 2nd Ave South, Suite 101, Nashville, TN 37210 but the form must still be completed by the dealer.


    If you do not have the previous owners Boat Registration card you will need the previous owners name and complete address. Also, if you have Tennessee registration numbers affixed to the boat you will need to provide that information.




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    Change Or Transfer Your Registration Details

    If you have sold your boat, you may be eligible to transfer the registration online as the seller.

    If you have bought a recreational boat, you need to change the ownership details into your name within 14 days of the purchase. Take with you:

    Alternatively you may be eligible to transfer the registration online as the buyer. Note: The seller needs to complete their part of transfer online or in person before you can transfer the registration into your name online.

    If you have bought or sold a boat with a registered trailer, you also need to transfer the trailer registration.

    Requirements For Boater Registration In Tennessee

    What do you need to register a boat in Tennessee? is one of the first questions a new boat owner should ask. The first step is obtaining a TN boat registration form from the closest county clerks office. Registration instructions dictate across all counties that certification of sales tax paid upon purchase must be provided for boats that have never previously been registered.

    Note: The county clerks office will stamp the application for registration as tax paid.

    Requirements to register a boat in Tennessee that has previously been registered include a bill of sale showing last and new ownership. TN boat registration form applications must then be mailed or delivered in person to the address indicated on the form. All registration applications for boats take about 30 days to process.

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    How To Register A Jon Boat Without A Title

    You have found the perfect jon boat. This beauty is clean,well maintained and best of all cheap. But there is a catch there is notitle. Is the deal too good to be true? Or have you found a true treasure thatwill only take a little bit of paperwork before hitting the water? How do you register a jon boat without atitle?

    The process of registeringa jon boat without a title will vary from state to state. In some cases, boats manufacturedprior to a certain date or beneath a certain propulsion threshold or length willnot require a title in order to be registered. You will need to contact the departmentin your state to understand the specific requirements.

    Like automobiles, boats often require both registration andtitling. However, the specific requirements will vary state to state. Whetheryoure considering purchasing a jon boat and want to know in advance theregistration requirements, or already own one but dont have a title, wellexplain what to do from here and who you can contact.

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