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Hawaii 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 State of Hawaii. 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

Hawaii issues registration and titles for non-exempt boats operating within its jurisdiction. These are administered by the Division of Boating and Ocean Resources in Honolulu. Titling and registration of outboard motors is not provided in Hawaii. Registration is required for boat trailers but titles are not available.

Unless otherwise exempted, all boats must become registered in Hawaii. Exceptions include a vessel's lifeboat used solely for lifesaving purposes, a manually propelled recreational vessel, a recreational vessel eight feet or less in length propelled solely, and boats registered in another state for a visitation period of 90 days. USCG documented vessels used for recreational purposes are exempt from registration and titling.

Hawaii does not have provisions for bonding or conditional registrations where sufficient proof of ownership is not otherwise available.

Hawaii has adopted the Uniform Certificate of Title Act for Vessels Act (UCOTVA) which basically sets the same nationwide standards for boat titling as those for vehicles. This state also participates in the Vessel Identification System (VIS) where boat registration data is shared among government agencies throughout the nation.

There are approximately 12,355 boats registered in the State of Hawaii. This accounts for 0.4% of all nationwide registrations.

Numbering and Marking

Boat registration numbers in Hawaii begin with an "HA" designation which is followed by four numbers and then two letters. These must be displayed on all registered boats along with periodic sticker tabs. 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 DBOR for a hull number assignment. State assigned hull numbers prefixed with the letters "HAZ" are available for home made boats and those without factory designations.

Recording Methods

Hawaii issues titles for all non-exempt boats, therefore any security interests are recorded on the title certificate itself. Security interests on boats that are neither titled or Coast Guard documented will be recorded as Uniform Commercial Code (UCC) filings. Tax liens are sometimes flagged in the state's registration database, recorded as UCC 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.

Record Searches

Boat title and registration records in Hawaii are maintained in a database administered by the Division of Boating and Ocean Recreation. Insights on how to go about searching the database and obtaining current or historical records can be found in WikiLinks.

Uniform Commercial Code filings are not available online in Hawaii, therefore a search must be ordered through the Bureau of Conveyances. This can be implemented by filing a UCC Record Request form or by using a public records service provider. State and Federal tax liens on boats are not always recorded in a consistent manner and are difficult to identify. If this is a matter of concern, the services of public record vendor that has access to a broad range of personal property lien recordings may be worthwhile. 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

There is no sales tax on boats in Hawaii. However, businesses must pay a general excise tax on products sold which can be passed on to the consumer.

Insurance is only required for boats parked in Department of Land and Natural Resources Division of Boating and Ocean Recreation facilities. Liability insurance with at least $500,000 in coverage is required for all boats parked in such locations, including harbors and offshore moorings. The insurance policy must name the State of Hawaii, DOBOR as the "additional insured" or "additional interest". The policy should cover salvage costs for grounded or sunken vessels, damage to docks, pollution containment and wreck removals.

Operating and Safety

Anyone who operates a motorized boat in Hawaii’s State waters must have taken a boating safety course and show proof of certification.

The transfer, abandonment, theft, or destruction of a Hawaii registered boat must be reported to the Division of Boating and Ocean Resources within seven days.


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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3/29/2022 - Page initiated by Team BoatWiki.



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