Vehicle Industry Registration Procedures Manual

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Section 25 of 38

Chapter 24: Vessels

24.000 Introduction

All undocumented vessels using California waters must display a current California registration number (CF number). Vessels may be registered or transferred through a Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) field office, DMV headquarters, or an authorized vessel agent.

Amphibious Vehicle/Vessel Combination—A device which may be propelled, moved, or drawn upon both water and a highway on land.

Documented Vessel—A vessel required to be documented by the U.S. Coast Guard and issued a valid marine certificate. Commercial vessels weighing five net tons or more (net tons is a ship measurement derived from gross tonnage by deducting spaces allowed for crew and propelling power) and commercial vessels 30 or more feet in length must be documented, unless exemption is granted by the U.S. Coast Guard. Yachts or pleasure vessels maybe documented at the owner’s request.

Interstate Commerce—A vessel engaged for compensation in transporting persons or property in more than one state.

Legal Owner—The person holding the legal title to a vessel under a conditional sales contract, the mortgagee of a vessel, or the renter or lessor of a vessel.

Livery Vessel—Any vessel subject to registration under the Vehicle Code (VC), that is held primarily for the purpose of renting, leasing, or chartering to others. (California Code of Regulations (CCR) §§190.04 and 190.20)

Owner—The person having lawful possession of a vessel by virtue of legal title or equitable interest therein, which entitles them to possession. This does not include a legal owner as defined above.

Registered Owner—The person/entity shown on DMV’s records as the registered owner(s) of the vessel.

Situs—Principal location of the vessel.

State of Principal Use—The state on which waters a vessel is used, or intended to be used, most during a calendar year (California Harbor and Navigation Code (CHNC) §651[o]).

Undocumented Vessel—A vessel that is not required to have, and does not have, a valid marine document issued by the U.S. Coast Guard.

Use—Navigates, operates, or employs (any vessel upon the waters of this state).

Vessel—All watercraft used or capable of use for transportation on water, except:

  • A seaplane on the water.
  • A watercraft specifically designed to operate on a permanently-fixed course, the movement of which is guided by a mechanical device to which the watercraft is attached or controlled (for example, a ferryboat).
  • A floating, stationary, residential dwelling (floating home) not designed to have power of its own, and dependent for utilities from a source on shore, with a permanent sewage hookup on shore.

Vessel Agent—A bona fide dealer, broker, or both, appointed, but not licensed, by . Refer to this chapter for additional information.

Vessel Carrying Passengers for Hire—Any vessel subject to registration under the CVC, which is held for the transportation of any person for valuable consideration, whether directly or indirectly flowing to the owner, charterer, operator, agent, or any other person interested in the vessel (CCR §190.05).

Vessel and Marine Dealer—Persons engaged in the business of selling, offering for sale, buying, or taking in trade for the purpose of resale any vessel(s) who receives or expects to receive money, profit, or any other thing of value (CCR §190.07).

Vessel and marine dealers are not licensed by DMV. Refer any questions about licenses for retail businesses selling vessels and related marine equipment to local city and county administration offices and the State Board of Equalization (BOE).

Vessel Manufacturer—Person who is engaged wholly or in part in the business of building or assembling vessels, who subsequently offers these vessels for sale and receives or expects to receive money, profit, or any other thing of value resulting from such transactions (CCR §190.06).

Waters of the State—Any waters within the territorial limits of California including private bodies of water (VC §9850 and CHNC §651[u]).

Yacht or Ship—Any vessel 16 or more feet in length under 300 gross tons used in navigating in water and designed to be propelled by machinery or sail (CHNC §701[c]).

Yacht and Ship Brokers—Brokers negotiate the purchase, sale, or exchange of yachts for compensation, but do not own the yachts. Brokers are licensed by the California State Parks Division of Boating and Waterways (DBW). Refer to this chapter for additional information (CHNC §701[a]).