How to Find Out Who Is on a Title for a Boat?

by Rachel Moran

If you need to find out who is on the title for a boat, you will need to gather certain identifying information from the vessel. In instances where you have been in a boating accident and the other boater sped away, you may be able to identify the boat by its name and port of hail. Keep in mind that many jurisdictions do not disclose title information about boat owners in order to protect people's privacy, but if you have an accident report or a pending lawsuit where the information is privy to discovery, you may be entitled to the information.

Check the boat's registration. Look on either side of the bow for a registration sticker. This will tell you if the boat is documented with the Coast Guard or if it is registered with the state. The sticker is usually a small square or rectangle.

Write down the boat's identifying information. Write down any information on the boat's registration sticker. Find the hull identification number (HIN). The HIN is required of all boats since the 1970s and is a unique identifier for each watercraft in the US, including jet skis or other small craft. The HIN is usually located on the stern or back of the boat on the starboard or right side of the boat when it is facing forward. Write down the name and port of hail of the boat. This is usually located on the stern, too.

Enter the boat into the Coast Guard-documented database. If the boat is registered with a state, skip to Step 4. If the boat is documented with the Coast Guard, log online and visit the Office of Science and Technology's copy of the Coast Guard's database of all vessels by name. Enter the name and port of hail as prompted and the site will return the title owner's information.

Contact the relevant state agency. Go online to find the relevant state agency and enter the HIN or vessel name into any available proprietary database. If one is not available, check the agency's website for a contact phone number and call them to request the information.


  • check If you were in a boating accident, have a copy of the police report ready before you contact any state agencies.


  • close If you are party to a lawsuit and you are entitled to discovery, check with a licensed attorney in your jurisdiction to ensure you follow all relevant rules of discovery. Failure to follow these rules could result in forfeiture of your claim or a reduced settlement amount.

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About the Author

Rachel Moran started writing in 2003. Her journalism has appeared in "Orange," "Luxury," "Creative Loafing," "tbt*" and other publications. Her fiction has appeared in the "Tampa Review," "Florida Review," "BLOW" and "Pindeldyboz." Her copywriting has served clients from Bayer to Volkswagen. Moran received her Bachelor of Arts in writing from the University of Tampa.

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