The Free Boating Encyclopedia



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Records Release Authorization - Forms
DPPA Privacy Restrictions - Definitions
Vessel Identification System - Definitions
Boating Requirements - Resources



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California Boat Registration Database Search


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Oct 23, 2023 - The California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) maintains a database for boats registered within its jurisdiction. This is integrated within the same system as those for motor vehicles. The following information will provide some insights on how to search for boat registration records in the State of California.

Privacy Restrictions

California currently restricts access to its boat registration records under provisions of the Federal Driver's Privacy Protection Act (DPPA)(WikiTags). Although written for vehicles, it has been adopted to cover titled and registered boats. This means that such data is only available to the owner and certain qualified parties as defined in 18 U.S.C 2721.

Online Access

California offers online access to its boat registration database, however, it is restricted to the owner who must first establish an account (WikiTags).

Telephone Access

It has been reported that the California DMV will confirm whether a hull number exists in their system or verify information from a title or registration certificate in hand. Although it is unlikely that it will offer any further data. See WikiLinks for DMV contact information.

Boat Record Request Forms

In addition to the online access method, an owner may submit a formal request form (WikiLinks) without establishing an account. This can include current and archived records as needed. Mailing information and fees are shown on the form.

Non-owners are not allowed online access, but may submit a formal request form (WikiLinks). This can include current and archived data as needed. However such requests are restricted to certain qualified parties as specified in DPPA privacy restrictions (WikiTags). An unqualified requester must include the owner's Record Release Authorization (WikiLinks). Mailing information and fees are shown on the request form.

A Boat registration records request form for is available for use in conjunction with certain California statutory lien sales (WikiLinks).

The DMV has a special boat registration request form for attorney usage (WikiLinks).

Bulk Records

Boat registration records are available in bulk for certain commercial usages such as boat dealers (WikiLinks).

Nationwide System

California subscribes to the Vessel Identification System (WikiTags) which is administered by the U.S. Coast Guard. This is a nationwide database wherein most states contribute boat registration data in real-time. Access is only available, however, to law enforcement agencies and other governmental institutions. Anyone concerned about a boat that may have been stolen, abandoned, involved in an incident or is being utilized for illicit activities in state jurisdictional areas should contact a local enforcement agency or boat registration office.


The information provided herein has been obtained from various sources and is subject to change without notice. Any such concerns should be addressed with the respective government agency.

Credits and References

Oct 23, 2023 - Page revised.

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