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Indiana Boating Requirements


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Nov 24, 2023 - 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 Indiana. 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

Indiana issues registrations and titles for all non-exempt boats operating in their jurisdiction. These are administered through the Bureau of Motor Vehicles in Indianapolis. Boat transactions are basically handled in the same manner as vehicles although requirements and exemptions may vary. Outboard motors are not titled or registered in Indiana. Boat trailers must be registered in this state. Boat titling is required on boat trailers weighing over 3,100 lbs.

All motorized boats, including motorized sailboats and jet skis must be registered in Indiana. This includes boats with trolling motors. Coast Guard documented vessels must also be registered.

Titling is required for all registered boats except those which are Coast Guard documented.

Indiana does not have provisions for bonded boat titles or conditional boat registrations where sufficient proof of ownership is not otherwise available. Under these circumstances, an award of ownership will be required from a court of proper jurisdiction.

Indiana does not have a formal program to address boats abandoned on private property. However it does have titling and registration procedures for those abandoned in marinas.

There are approximately 202,093 boats registered in the State of Indiana. This accounts for 1.7% of all nationwide registrations.

Numbering and Marking

Boat registration numbers in Indiana begin with an "IN" 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. State assigned hull numbers prefixed with the letters "INZ" are available for home made boats and those without factory designations. Boat hull number inspections are required for first time registration applications.

Recording Methods

Security interests in non-documented boats are recorded with the Bureau of Motor vehicles. These will be shown on both the registration certificate and title when applicable. All titles with active security interests are sent directly to the secured party.

Tax liens are sometimes flagged in the state's registration database or perhaps recorded as Uniform Commercial Code filings. 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 lender's 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.

A UCC financing statement must be filed to secure an interest if the boat is neither titled or Coast Guard documented.

Record Searches

Boat title and registration records in Indiana are maintained by the Bureau of Motor Vehicles. Boat data is integrated with the vehicle database system. Access to such information is made available to the owners and certain qualified parties. Insights on how to go about implementing searches and obtaining record copies can be found in WikiLinks.

A Uniform Commercial Code search is necessary to determine secured interests if a boat is neither titled or Coast Guard documented.

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. Given these disparities, it may be worth obtaining the services of a public record vendor that has access to a broad range of personal property lien recordings.

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.

Taxes and Insurance

State sales tax applies to boat transactions.

Indiana does not require liability insurance for boats operating on their waters.

Operating and Safety

Those who are at least 15 years old and will be operating a motorboat or PWC, but do not have an Indiana driver’s license, must pass an approved boater safety course

Transfer, abandonment, theft, or destruction of an Indiana registered boat must be reported to the Marine Police Division within 15 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.

Credits and References

Nov 24, 2023 - Page revised.



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