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South Dakota 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 South Dakota. 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

South Dakota issues registrations and titles for all non-exempt boats operating within its jurisdiction. These are administered by the Motor Vehicle division in Pierre. Outboard boat motors are not subject to titling and registration in South Dakota. Boat trailer registration and titling are required in this state.

South Dakota registration is required on all boats over 12' and all motor boats regardless of length. Coast Guard documented vessels are also subject to registration. A visitation period of 60 days is allowed for boats that are registered in another state, Coast Guard documented, or registered in a foreign country. A complete listing of requirements and exemptions can be found on the Boat Registration website link in WikiTags.

South Dakota does not have provisions for bonded or conditional registrations when there is insufficient proof of ownership. In these cases it will be necessary to petition a local court of law for an award of ownership.

There are approximately 60,557 boats registered in the State of South Dakota. This accounts for 0.5% of all nationwide registrations.

Numbering and Marking

South Dakota boat registration numbers begin with an "SD" 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 boats 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 "AKZ" are available for home made boats and those without factory designations. The boat must be inspected by a South Dakota law enforcement official if there is a hull number discrepancy.

Recording Methods

South Dakota issues ownership titles on all registered boats except for those which are Coast Guard Documented. These are administered by the Motor Vehicles Division. Security interests in titled boats are recorded with the Division of Motor vehicles. These will be shown on both the registration and title certificates when applicable. This state has an electronic lien and title system. As a result, a certificate is not printed on any title that indicates a lien.

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.

 f 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.

There are no provisions for recording mechanic's liens or other non-secured claims against state titled boats.

Record Searches

Boat title and registration records in South Dakota are maintained in a database which is administered by the Division of Motor Vehicles. Access to such information is available for owners, owner authoirzed and certain other qualified parties only. Insights on how to implement database search lookups in South Dakota and where to obtain boat registration, title and historical records can be found in WikiTags.

Uniform Commercial Code searches are not available online in this state. It will accordingly be necessary to file an information request form or use a public record provider. If there are any suspected state or federal tax liens it may also be advisable to use a public record vendor 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.

Taxes and Insurance

Sales and excise taxes are levied on boat transactions in South Dakota. Visit the Department of Revenue website link in WikiTags for more information.

South Dakota does not require liability insurance for boats operating on its waters.

Operating and Safety

South Dakota does not require a boat operator's license.


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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