Tennessee 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 Tennessee. 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
Tennessee is a boat registration only state and does not issue titles. Registration of all non-exempted boats operating in its jurisdiction is administered by the Wildlife Resources Agency in Nashville. This state does not issue titles or registrations for outboard motors. Titling and registration are optional for boat trailers in Tennessee.
Unless otherwise exempted, all boats must become registered in Tennessee. Coast Guar documented vessels are also subject to registration. A complete list of requirements and exemptions can be found on the Boat Registration website link in WikiTags.
Tennessee does not have provisions for bonded or conditional boat 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 246,190 boats registered in the State of Tennessee. This accounts for 2.1% of all nationwide registrations.
Numbering and Marking
Boat registration numbers in Tennessee begin with a "TN" 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. Owners with older boats may apply with the Marine Police Division for a hull number assignment. State assigned hull numbers prefixed with the letters "TNZ" are available for home made boats and those without factory designations. The boat must be inspected by a Tennessee law enforcement official if there is a hull number discrepancy.
Tennessee is a registration only state and does not issue boat titles. Registration certificates may however serve as quasi-proof of ownership unless the vessel is Coast Guard documented. Security interests in boats that are neither titled or documented are therefore recorded through Uniform Commercial Code filings.
Tax liens are sometimes flagged in the state's registration database, recorded as UCC filings, shown on state revenue records, or filed with a county clerk's office.
If the vessel is USCG documented, a security interest is perfected by filing a preferred vessel mortgage. These are recorded with the National Vessel Documentation Center with the earliest submissions taking priority. Other lien claims can be filed in the same manner although these function as notifications only. All such 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 registered boats which are not USCG documented.
Boat registration records Tennessee are maintained by the Wildlife Resources Agency. This agency does not facilitate online searches for the general public but registration information may be obtained by submitting a boat record request form. It is also reported that the registration office will confirm hull identification numbers and provide telephone verifications on registration certificates in hand.
Tennessee is a registration only state and does not issue boat titles. Security interests in non-documented boats are accordingly filed with the Secretary of State as Uniform Commercial Code recordings. Online UCC searches are available from their web site or by using a public record vendor.
State and Federal tax liens on boats are not always recorded in a consistent manner and are therefore difficult to identify. They may show up as a red flag on state registration records, as UCC filings, in state revenue records, in a county clerks records, or on a vessel's abstract of title for documented boats. Given these disparities, it may be worth obtaining the services of a public record vendor that has access to a broad range of personal property lien recordings.
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 is required on all boat transactions in Tennessee. Visit the Department of Revenue website link in WikiTags for more information.
Liability insurance is not required for boats operating on Tennessee waters.
Operating and Safety
Tennessee requires anyone born after January 1, 1989, to pass a boater safety course and to carry a boater education card.
Transfers or abandonments must be reported 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.
Credits and References
3/29/2022 - Page initiated by Team BoatWiki.