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Maryland 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 Maryland. 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

Maryland issues both registrations and titles for all non-exempt boats operating within its jurisdiction. These are administered through the Department of Natural Resources in Annapolis. Outboard motors are not titled or registered in Maryland. Boat trailers are registered and titled.

Registration is required for all motorboats in the State of Maryland. Registration is not required for Coast Guard documented vessels, but a special use decal must be obtained. A complete list of exemptions may be found by visiting the DNR website

There are approximately 169,902 boats registered in the State of Maryland. This accounts for 1.4% of all nationwide registrations.

Numbering and Marking

Boat registration numbers in Maryland begin with an "MD" 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 show 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 "MDZ" are available for home made boats and those without factory designations. This state does not require hull number inspections.

Recording Methods

Titles are issued on all registered boats in Maryland except for those which are Coast Guard Documented. Maryland does not have provisions for bonded boat titling or registration. Under these circumstances it will be necessary to petition a court of local jurisdiction for an award of ownership. Maryland does have a defined process for claiming title to an abandoned boat, and also has a defined process to claim title to a boat through a mechanic's lien.

Security interests in state titled boats are recorded with the Department of Natural Resources. These will be shown on title certificates. Secured parties listed as a lienholder on a boat will receive a Security Interest Filing document at time of boat owners application to obtain title on boat. Security interests in boats that are neither titled or USCG documented are recorded with the Secretary of State as Uniform Commercial Code (UCC) filings. Tax liens may be flagged on boat registration records, 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 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.

Record Searches

Boat title and registration records in Maryland are maintained in a database administered by the Department of Natural Resources. Access to such data is available to owners and certain qualified parties. Visit WikiTags for insights on how to go about searching for Maryland boat registration, title, and historical records.

Uniform Commercial Code searches are available online from the Department of Assessments and Taxation. However, if there are any suspected state or federal tax liens, it may be worthwhile to use a public record vendor as they have much broader access to such filings.

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

Excise tax is due within 30 days of the purchase date or entry into the State of Maryland. Visit the Comptroller of Maryland link in WikiTags for additional information.

Liability insurance is not required for boats that operate on Maryland waters.

Operating and Safety

The sale, transfer, abandonment, theft, or destruction of a boat registered in Maryland must be reported to the Department of Natural Resources within 15 days.

Maryland requires that all boaters operating on their waters who were born on or after July 1, 1972 must have 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.



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