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Colorado Boating Requirements


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May 26,2023 - The Colorado boating requirements summary is designed to inform the public about title options, registration requirements, recording methods, record searches, tax rules, and operational guidelines for the State of Colorado. The data is maintained as an open wiki forum where readers are encouraged to participate by sharing knowledge and experiences regarding this particular state. Simply click on the above "WikiShare" link to contribute further details or suggest a revision.

Registration - Titling

Colorado is a boat registration only state and does not issue titles. Registration of all non-exempt boats operating in this state are administered by the Parks and Wildlife department in Littleton. Titling and registration is not required in Colorado for outboard boat motors. Boat trailers must be both registered and titled.

Unless otherwise exempted, any power or sail boat must become registered in Colorado. Registration of U.S. documented vessels is also required. Exemptions include vessels which are registered in another state for a visitation period not to exceed 90 days. 

The Colorado State Parks division must be notified within 15 days if a boat is transferred, stolen, abandoned, or destroyed.

There are approximately 94,385 boats registered in the State of Colorado. This accounts for 0.2% of all nationwide registrations.

Numbering - Marking

Boat registration numbers in Colorado begin with an "CL" designation which is followed by four numbers and then two letters. These must be displayed on all non-documented boats along with registration sticker tabs.

Coast Guard documented vessels may not display the state registration numbers. However they must display the state registration tabs, an owner designated vessel name, and a hailing port. An official documentation number must also be affixed to a visible interior location in the hull itself or an integral part of the hull.

 All vessels manufactured after 1972 are required to have a 12 digit hull identification number affixed to the vessel by the manufacturer. Owners with older boats may apply with the Parks and Wildlife department for a hull number assignment. State assigned hull numbers prefixed with the letters "CLZ" are available for home made boats and those without factory designations.

Liens - Security Interests

Colorado does not issue boat titles therefore security interests in non-documented boats are recorded through Uniform Commercial Code filings.

Tax liens are sometimes flagged in the state's registration database, recorded as Uniform Commercial Code filings, shown on state revenue records, or filed with a county clerk's office.

There are no provisions for recording mechanic's liens or other non-secured claims against registered boats which are not documented.

If the vessel is USCG documented, a security interest may be perfected by filing a preferred vessel mortgage. These are recorded with the National Vessel Documentation Center with the earliest submissions taking priority. Other lien claims can be filed in the same manner although these function as notifications only. All such filings are indexed on the vessel's underlying abstract of title.

Databases - Record Searches

Boat registration records in Colorado are maintained by the Parks and Wildlife department (CPW). Information on searching their boat registration database and obtaining records can be found in WikiTags.

 Boat security interests in non-documented boats can be found by searching the state's Uniform Commercial Code records. This can be performed online or by using a public record vendor. State and Federal tax liens on boats are not always recorded in a consistent manner and are therefore difficult to identify. They may show up as a red flag on state registration records, as UCC filings, in state revenue records, in a county clerks records, or on a vessel's abstract of title for documented boats.

Ownership, mortgage, and lien search recordings for USCG documented vessels can be obtained by ordering an abstract of title and a copy of the certificate of documentation from the National Vessel Documentation Center. However, these are encoded and can be difficult to interpret, especially on older vessels with numerous recordings.

Information about business and legal entities that own boats registered, titled, or documented in Colorado can be obtained by searching the Secretary of State's business records online.

Taxes - Insurance

Sales tax on boats in Colorado only applies you when you buy from a dealer. Sales from an owner directly to the buyer are not taxable.

Operating - Safety

Any motorized boat operator in Colorado that is 14 or 15 years old must pass a boater safety course and to carry a boater education card.

Liability insurance is not required for boats operating on Colorado waters.


The information contained herein is subject to change without notice and may contain errors or omissions. Be sure to check with the respective government agency before taking action on any such data. More detailed information about all of these topics can be found in the above WikiTags.

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May 26, 2023 - Page revised.



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