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


Kentucky 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 Kentucky. 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

Kentucky issues boat registrations and titles on all non-exempt boats operating within this jurisdiction. Although titling and registration transactions are administered by the respective county clerk offices, such records are maintained by the Division of Motor Vehicles. Outboard motors are not titled or registered separately in Kentucky although they can be listed on the boat registration records. Although registration and titling is not required for boat trailers in Kentucky, it is optional and would be required when operating in most other states.

Registration is required in Kentucky for all motorized boats with certain exemptions. Coast Guard documented vessels are exempt from registration. A visitation period of 60 days is allowed for boats that are Coast Guard documented, foreign titled, or registered in another state. Kentucky issues titles for all registered boats except those which are Coast Guard documented.

There are approximately 156,800 boats registered in the State of Kentucky. This accounts for 1.3% of all nationwide registrations.

Numbering and Marking

 Boat registration numbers in Kentucky begin with a "KY" 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 "KYZ" are available for home made boats and those without factory designations. Kentucky does not require hull identification number verifications.

Recording Methods

Security interests in state titled boats are recorded with the Department of Fish and Wildlife 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. 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. Security interests in non-documented and non-titled boats are recorded as Uniform Commercial Code filings.

Record Searches

Although boat titling and registration in Kentucky is administered by the respective county clerk offices, the records are maintained by the Kentucky Transportation Department, Division of Motor Vehicles. Insights on how to go about searching their database and obtaining current or historical records can be found  in WikiTags.

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

Sales, use, and personal property taxes are assessed on boats in Kentucky.

Liability insurance is not required for boats operating in Kentucky.

Operating and Safety

The state of Kentucky does not require boaters to have a driver's license in order to operate a boat. However, they do require operators who are 12-17 years of age to get certified with a Boater Education Card, if they wish to operate a boat powered by a motor of 10 hp or more.

Transfer, abandonment, theft, or destruction of an Kentucky registered boat must be reported to the County Clerk's Office 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

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