Buying or Selling a Vessel (Changing Ownership)

What If I Purchased a Vessel That Is Already Registered in California?

You must:

  • obtain the California Certificate of Ownership (title) from the seller with the owner's signature release on line "1" of the title.
  • print your name and address and sign on the back of the title.
  • submit the title to DMV with the transfer fee and use tax, if due.
  • if the title is lost, provide a REG 227 with the previous owner's releasing signature.
  • if the vessel was not purchased from the owner whose name appears on the title, you will need a bill of sale from each in-between buyer.

What If I Lose the Certificates or Stickers?

If you lost the title, complete an Application for Duplicate or Paperless Title (REG 227). If you lost the Certificate of Number or sticker, complete an Application for Replacement Plates, Stickers, Documents (REG 156) to replace the lost certificates or sticker and pay a duplicate fee for each item.


What Must I Do When I Sell My Vessel?

You must:

  • Notify the department within five days after the sale by submitting a Notice of Release of Liability (REG 138) giving the vessel information, the name and address of the buyer, and the date of sale.
  • Give the Certificate of Ownership to the buyer with your release (signature) on Line "1" of the title.

DMV vessel forms


Other Information Unique to Vessels

  • DMV will withhold a vessel transfer, if the county tax collector notifies the department that the personal property taxes are delinquent on a vessel (vessels registered in California are assessed property taxes by the county tax collector where the vessel is stored or where it is moored. Contact the county tax collector for the county in which you reside or where the vessel is moored, if you do not received your tax bill).
  • You will receive the ABCs of California Boating Laws" booklet when you first register the vessel in your name. This booklet contains the current safety and registration information.