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New Mexico 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 New Mexico. 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

New Mexico issues both registrations and titles for all non-exempt boats operating within its jurisdiction. These are administered through the Motor Vehicle Division in Santa Fe. Boat transactions are basically handled in the same manner as vehicles although requirements and exemptions may vary. New Mexico does not title or register outboard motors. However, the engine identification number may be listed on the registration application. Boat trailer titles and registrations are handled through the Motor Vehicle Division.

Unless otherwise exempted, boat registration in New Mexico is required for every boat 10' or longer propelled by machinery, whether or not machinery is the principal source of propulsion as in a sailboat. Coast Guard documented vessels are exempt from registration. A complete list of exemptions may be found by visiting the MVD website.

There are approximately 30,918 boats registered in the State of New Mexico. This accounts for 0.3% of all nationwide registrations.

Numbering and Marking

New Mexico boat registration numbers begin with an "NM" 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 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 "NMZ" are available for home made boats and those without factory designations. Boats must be inspected by a New Mexico law enforcement officer if there is a hull number discrepancy.

Recording Methods

New Mexico issues titles on all registered boats except for those which are Coast Guard Documented. This state also has bonding provisions for establishing boat titles without sufficient evidence of ownership.

Security interests in state titled boats are recorded with the Motor Vehicle Division. These will be shown on both the registration and title certificates when applicable. All titles with active security interests are sent directly to the secured party. 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 New Mexico are maintained in a database which is administered by the Motor Vehicle Division. Access to such data is available to boat owners, those authorized by the owner and other entitled parties. Insights on how to search for boat registration, title or historical information and where to obtain record copies can be found in WikiLinks.

Uniform Commercial Code searches are available online from the Secretary of State. However, if there are any suspected state or federal tax liens, it may be advisable to use a public record vendor as they have a 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. It may be worthwhile to contact a professional vessel title company for assistance in this regard.

Taxes and Insurance

An excise tax is levied on boat transactions in New Mexico. Visit the Taxation and Revenue website link in WikiTags for more information.

Liability insurance is not required for boats operating in New Mexico waters.

Operating and Safety

Boat operator licensing is required in New Mexico. All motorized boat and PWC operators born after January 1, 1989, must pass a boater safety course and to carry a boater education card.

Transfers and abandonments must be reported to the Motor Vehicle 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.

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



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