Which Vessels Must Be Registered?
Generally, every sail-powered vessel over eight feet long and motor-driven vessels not documented by the U.S. Coast Guard used on California waters are subject to registration by the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). The vessel must be located in California.
The following vessels do not have to be registered in California:
Vessels propelled solely by oars or paddles.
Nonmotorized sailboats that are eight feet long or less.
Nonmotorized surfboards propelled by a sail and a mast that the operator must hold upright (sailboards).
A ship's lifeboat used solely for lifesaving purposes (a dinghy is not a lifeboat).
Vessels currently and lawfully numbered (registered) by another state that is principally used outside of California.
Vessels brought into California for racing purposes only (exempted only during races and tune-ups).
A floating, stationary, residential dwelling not designed to have the power of its own, dependent for utilities to a source onshore.
What documents do I need to renew registration?
Use only if the name, address, insurance and vehicle information printed on the registration renewal notice has not changed.
You'll need your current registration card or renewal notice, insurance information, and a Visa, Discover Card, American Express, or MasterCard or a check for fees.
Registering a Vessel Previously Registered
Out of State Checklist.
A vessel from out-of-state must be registered within 120 days of the date of entry into California if the state of principal use changes from another state to California.
A completed Application for Registration Number Certificate of Ownership and Certificate of Number for Undocumented Vessel (BOAT 101).
Proof of ownership, such as the title issued by another state or the original or certified copy of a conditional sales contract or security interest showing the buyer's name and any lienholder and marked "PAID" and countersigned.
Any bills of sale needed to establish a complete chain of ownership.
A Vessel Registration Fee.
If the vessel was last registered in a state that does not issue a title for vessels, you will also need:
The out-of-state Certificate of Number.
If the vessel was imported from a foreign country, you will also need:
Foreign documents describing the vessel. This may be a bill of sale to the vessel owner or a bill of lading.
The U.S. Customs receipt in the owner's name.
Buying or Selling a Vessel (Changing Ownership)
What If I Purchased a Vessel That Is Already Registered in California?
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.
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