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Foreign Registry - Definition
Apostille - Definition
Bill of Sale - Definition - Form
Power of Attorney - Definition - Form
Admeasurement - Definition



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Foreign Vessel Ownership Transfer


How to transfer ownership of a foreign registered vessel with step by step instructions.

BoatWiki - Guidelines


Transferring ownership of a foreign registered vessel into state registration or Coast Guard documentation can be somewhat challenging. This is due in part to variations between state and Coast Guard requirements. There is also a matter of dealing with various foreign languages, translations, and notarizations.

Step 1 - Obtain a copy of the certificate of registry.

The states and Coast Guard are both going to require a copy of the vessel's foreign certificate of registry. The owner should be able to produce this or obtain a copy from the respective registrar if already surrendered. If not available in English, it will need to be translated by a qualified service. The service must also provide a certification as to their qualifications.

Step 2 - Obtain evidence of removal from registry.

Most states and the Coast Guard will also require evidence of removal from the respective registry. It is a standard practice for foreign agencies to provide a certification thereof. This must again be translated and certified by a qualified service if not available in English.

Step 3 - Obtain a Bill of Sale

Obtain a bill of sale from the owner of record. Although some states have more relaxed rules, the Coast Guard is very stringent in their requirements. The instrument must contain certain citations and become notarized in a specific manner. Unless notarized within the U.S. or by a U.S. Consulate, it must contain a certification known as an Apostille. As this is often difficult to obtain, many owners will simply provide a limited power of attorney for a U.S. resident to sign on their behalf. Oddly enough, the Coast Guard does not require a copy of the power of attorney.

Step 4 - Determine the need for admeasurement.

If a vessel is re-documented subsequent to being placed into a foreign registry, you will need to provide the appropriate admeasurement certification. This applies, even though previously submitted.

Step 5 - Continue on with the registration process.

You should now be in a position to continue on with a state registration or Coast Guard documentation. Before doing so, however, it is recommended that you contact the respective agency to confirm their requirements. This is especially true on the state level as such rules may vary among jurisdictions.


Use of these guidelines and related forms may have legal, financial, and tax implications. You should consult with an attorney or boat registration professional about any such concerns.

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Nov 17, 2022 - Page initiated by Team BoatWiki.



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