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New York Boating Requirements


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Feb 14, 2024 - 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 York. 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 York issues registrations and titles for all non-exempt boats operating within its jurisdiction. These are administered through the Department of Motor Vehicles in Albany. Boat transactions are basically handled in the same manner as vehicles although requirements and exemptions may vary.

Boat trailer registration is required in New York. Titles are issued on those weighing over 2,000 lbs.

Unless otherwise exempted, registration is required on all motorized boats in New York. Coast Guard documented boats used for recreational purposes are also subject to registration. A list of exemptions can be found on the DMV website.

There are approximately 433,457 boats registered in the State of New York. This accounts for 3.7% of all nationwide registrations.

Numbering and Marking

New York boat registration numbers begin with an "NY" 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 "NYZ" are available for home made boats and those without factory designations. The hull identification number must be inspected by a law enforcement official if there is a discrepancy.

Recording Methods

New York issues titles on all registered boats 14' and longer and newer than 1985 except those which are Coast Guard documented. New York has no provisions for bonded titles where sufficient proof of ownership not otherwise available. Under these circumstances it will be necessary to obtain an award of ownership from a local court.

Security interests in state titled boats are recorded with the Department of Motor vehicles. 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.

On boats that are neither titled or USCG documented, security interests 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 York are maintained in a database which is administered by the Department of Motor Vehicles. Such data is available to owners, owner authorized, certain qualified parties and the general public. Visit WikiTags for insights about boat registration and title database search lookups and ordering current and historical boat records.

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.

Taxes and Insurance

Sales tax applies to all boat transactions in New York. Visit the Department of Taxation website link in WikiTags for more information.

Liability insurance is not required for boats operation on New York waters.

Operating and Safety

Boat operator licensing is required in New York. This is being implemented in a phase-in-by-age law that will require a new age group to become certified each year, requiring all motorized boat and PWC operators to pass a boater safety course and to carry a New York boater card by January 1, 2025. All motorized boat operators born on or after January 1, 1993, will ultimately be required to carry the New York boater 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.

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Feb 14, 2024 Page revised..



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