District of Columbia Boating Requirements
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This summary is designed to inform the boating public about title options, registration requirements, recording methods, record searches, tax rules, and operational guidelines for the District of Columbia. The data is maintained as an open wiki forum where readers are encouraged to participate by sharing knowledge and experiences with this particular jurisdiction. Simply click on the above "WikiShare" link to contribute further details or suggest a revision.
Registration and Titling
The District of Columbia issues both registrations and titles for non-exempt boats operating within its jurisdiction. Visiting boaters are exempt for 50 consecutive days in District of Columbia waters. These are administered by the Metropolitan Police Department in Washington DC. Coast Guard documented vessels are subject to registration. A complete list of requirements and exemptions can be found on their boat registration website as shown in the above WikiTags.
Titles or registrations on outboard motors are not offered in the District of Columbia.
There are no provisions in the District of Columbia for bonded boat titling or conditional boat registrations when there is insufficient proof of ownership. In this case a petition must be filed with the district court for an award of ownership.
Registration and titling are required on all boat trailers.
The District of Columbia has adopted the Uniform Certificate of Title for Vessels Act (UCOTVA) which basically sets the same nationwide standards for boat titling as those established for vehicles. The act has been fully implemented except for vessel damage and salvage branding which is still under consideration. This state is also a participant in the Vessel Identification System (VIS) where boat registration data is shared among other agencies throughout the country.
There are approximately 1,780 boats registered in the District of Columbia. This accounts for 0.4% of all nationwide registrations.
Numbering and Marking
District of Columbia boat registration numbers begin with an "DC" 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 boats manufactured after 1972 are required to have a 12 digit hull identification number affixed to the vessel by the manufacturer. State assigned hull numbers prefixed with the letters "DCZ" are available for home made boats and those without factory designations. The boat must be inspected by a District of Columbia law enforcement officer if there is a hull number discrepancy.
Security interests in titled boats are recorded with the Metropolitan Police Department These will be shown on both the registration and title certificates when applicable. All titles with active security interests are sent directly to the secured party. Security interests in boats that are neither titled or USCG documented are recorded with the Record of Deeds Office as Uniform Commercial Code (UCC) filings. Tax liens may be flagged on boat registration records or recorded as UCC filings.
There are no provisions for recording mechanic's liens or other non-secured claims against state titled boats. If the vessel is USCG documented, a lender's security interest must be perfected by filing a preferred vessel mortgage. These are recorded with the National Vessel Documentation Center and priority is attained according to the date filed. Other maritime liens can be filed in the same manner although they function as notifications only. All mortgage and lien filings are indexed on the vessel's underlying abstract of title.
Boat title and registration records in the District of Columbia are maintained by the Metropolitan Police Department. This agency does not facilitate online searches for the general public due to strict privacy laws. However, record printouts may be obtained by an owner or otherwise qualified party by submitting a boat record request form. It is also reported that the registration office will check for hull numbers by telephone or verify information shown on boat title or registration certificates in hand.
Uniform Commercial Code searches are available by contacting the Record of Deeds office. If there are any suspected state or federal tax liens however, it may be advisable to use a public record vendor as they have a much broader access to such filings nationwide. 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.
Taxes and Insurance
Sales tax is assessed on boat transactions in the District of Columbia.
Liability insurance is not required for boats operating on District of Columbia waters.
Operating and Safety
The District of Columbia requires all operators of motor boats to pass a safety course and to carry a boater education card.
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.
Credits and References
3/29/2022 - Page initiated by Team BoatWiki.