The Free Boating Encyclopedia


Participate TranslateAbout



The nation's premier boat history report with a full compliment of title search resources. Includes eight maritime databases all rolled into one convenient interface. A must-have service for any prospective buyer, marine lender, or maritime professional.

Visit Now


Owner Background Search

Criminal Records
Assets - Properties
Personal Details

Know your seller!

Sponsored by


Iowa Boating Requirements


BoatWiki - Resources


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 Iowa. 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

Iowa issues boat registrations and titles for all non-exempt boats operating within their jurisdiction. These are administered through the Department of Natural Resources in Des Moines. Outboard motors are not titled or registered in Iowa. Boat trailer registration is required in Iowa. Titling is required on boat trailers weighing over 2,000 lbs. Iowa state sales tax applies to boat transactions.

All boats must be registered except for inflatable vessels that are 7 feet or less in length and canoes or kayaks that are 13 feet or less in length. Coast Guard documented vessels are also subject to registration. Titles are issued on all registered boats in Iowa except those which are Coast Guard documented.

The Department of Natural Resources has bonding procedures for acquiring boat titles and registrations where an applicant can not provide sufficient evidence of ownership.

There are no provisions for registering or titling abandoned boats in this state

There are approximately 215,321 boats registered in the State of Iowa. This accounts for 1.8% of all nationwide registrations.

Numbering and Marking

Boat registration numbers in Iowa begin with an "IA" 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 "IAZ" are available for home made boats and those without factory designations. Hull number inspections are not required.

Recording Methods

Security interests in non-documented boats are recorded with the Department of Natural Resources. 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. A UCC financing statement must be filed if the boat is neither titled or documented. 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.

Record Searches

Boat registration records in Iowa are administered by the Department of Natural Resources. Boat title and and registration information is available to the owner and certain qualified parties. Visit WikiTags for insights on how to go about searching the boat database and obtaining current and historical boat title, lien or historical data.

If a boat is neither titled or documented a Uniform Commercial Code search must be performed to identify any financing statements.

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.

Taxes and Insurance

Sales tax applies to boat transactions in Iowa. Visit their Department of Revenue website for more information.

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

Operating and Safety

Transfer, abandonment, theft, or destruction of an Iowa registered boat must be reported to the Department of Natural Resources within 10 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

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



Float Your BoatWiki

Learn about the role you can play
in supporting the internet's most reliable
source of free boating information.


Stay informed about urgent matters of
boater fraud and the latest changes in
 boat registration or safety regulations.



A Division of Maritime Partners, LLC
State of Washington  USA
© Copyright 1998 - 2024 All rights reserved.

boatwiki boatwiki