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Ohio Boating Requirements


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Sep 6, 2023 - The Ohio boating requirements summary is a free resource designed to inform the boating public about boat title options, registration requirements, recording methods, record searches, tax rules, and operational guidelines for the State of Ohio. The data is maintained as an open wiki forum where readers are encouraged to participate by sharing any knowledge and experiences related this particular jurisdiction.

Registration - Titling

Boat registration is required in Ohio for all non-exempt boats operating within its jurisdiction. This represents most recreational sail and power boats, including Coast Guard documented vessels. The registration process is administered by the Department of Natural Resources, Division of Parks and Watercraft. Information about the most current requirements, exemptions, registration fees, and instructions can be found on their registration website (WikiLinks).

Titling is generally required as a pre-condition for acquiring an Ohio boat registration. However, these are handled separately by the various county clerk's offices and approved registration agents. Details on how to go about this can be found on the DNR and respective county websites (WikiLinks).

Titling is required in Ohio for outboard motors with 10hp or more. They are administered through the same offices that issue boat titles..

Boat trailer registration is also required in Ohio and titles are issued with the exception of those under 4,000 lbs. which are used for non-commercial purposes.

This state does have provisions for bonded titles when there is insufficient proof of ownership.

Ohio has procedures for registering abandoned boats if the value is less than $10,000 and it has been left for six months without permission on private property.

There are approximately 593,422 boats registered in the State of Ohio. This accounts for 5.0% of all nationwide registrations

Numbering - Marking

Ohio boat registration numbers begin with an "OH" 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 "OHZ" are available for home made boats and those without factory designations. Boats must be inspected by a law enforcement official if there is a discrepancy with the hull identification number.

Liens - Security Interests

Ownership of boats registered in Ohio is evidenced by a certificate of title unless documented with the U.S. Coast Guard. In this case the owner is issued a certificate of documentation which serves as proof of ownership.

Security interests in state titled boats are recorded with the respective county clerk's office. These will be shown on boat 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 recorded on the vessel's underlying abstract of title.

Databases - Record Searches

Ohio maintains a database for boat and outboard motor titles which is administered by the Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV). These are integrated into the same system established for vehicles. Boat registration records are on the other hand, administered separately by the Department of Natural Resources through its Division of Parks and Watercraft (DPW). Visit WikiTags for insights on conducting Boat registration or title search lookups and obtaining current or historical records.

Uniform Commercial Code searches are available online from the Secretary of State (WikiTags). However, if there are any suspected state or federal tax liens, it may be advisable to use a public record vendor (WikiTags) as they have a much broader access to such filings nationwide.

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 (WikiTags).

Taxes - Insurance

Sales or use tax applies to boat transactions in Ohio. Visit the Department of Taxation link in WikiTags for additional information.

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

Operating - Safety

All boaters born after December 31, 1981 must have an Ohio boater education certificate to operate any motorized watercraft over 10 HP.


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 WikiTags for this page.

Credits and References

Sep 6, 2023 - Page revised.



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