Buying or Selling a Boat in Texas
General Questions (800) 262-8755 or (512) 389-4828
Parks and Wildlife Code states:
“SUBCHAPTER B-1. CERTIFICATES OF TITLE FOR VESSELS AND OUTBOARD MOTORS
Sec. 31.045. OWNERSHIP OF VESSELS AND OUTBOARD MOTORS; CERTIFICATES OF TITLE.
- The ownership of a vessel or of an outboard motor is evidenced by a certificate of title issued by the department, unless the vessel or the outboard motor is new.
- The ownership of a new vessel or a new outboard motor is evidenced by a manufacturer's or an importer's certificate executed on a form prescribed by the department.
- Separate certificates of title are required for vessels and for outboard motors.”
Effective January 1, 1994, all motorboats and all outboard motors must be titled. Also sailboats 14 feet and over in length must be titled.
- All motorized boats, regardless of length;
- All sailboats 14 feet in length or longer or any sailboat with an auxiliary engine(s); and
- All internal combustion (gasoline/diesel powered) outboard motors must be titled.
Purchasing Used Vessels – DO NOT purchase a used boat or outboard motor without receiving a title signed on the front and back along with a bill of sale from the person(s) listed on the title or from their legally documented representative. If a legal representative signs the title for the recorded owner(s), you must obtain a copy of the documentation authorizing them to act on behalf of the owner(s).
- USCG Documented vessels are exempt from titling with the State.
- USCG Documented vessels require State registration and proof of current USCG documentation.
- Non-motorized canoes, kayaks, punts, rowboats, or rubber rafts (regardless of length) when paddled, poled, or oared and sailboats under 14 feet in length when windblown. Adding an outboard or trolling motor to one of these types requires titling and registration.
- An exempt boat may have previously been titled as a motorboat. You can check whether a title has been issued for free – Query Ownership
Vessels that are currently registered and not titled must be titled at the time of transfer. Sailboats 14 feet and over will be registered and titled as owners become aware of these requirements. Currently owned untitled outboard motors must be titled when transferred.
Applications for transfer of title and ownership must be filed not later than 20 working days from date of purchase, or tax penalties and interest will be applied.
Brand New Vessels and/or Outboard Motors
A Manufacturer's Statement of Origin (MSO) is required to register and title all new boats and outboard motors.
In a private sale, whenever possible, both the seller and buyer should go to the nearest participating office to transfer the boat title and registration and outboard motor title into the name of the purchaser. Trailers are registered/titled separately through your County tax office.
Seller – by accompanying the buyer to the local office you are assured that the record is transferred out of your name and future liability for the vessel eliminated. The vessel and outboard motor title will remain in your name until a new title is applied for and processed by the local office or through the mail. If you do not accompany the purchaser to your local office, be sure to submit a Vessel/Boat or Outboard Motor Ownership Transfer Notification form PWD 1340 to Texas Parks and Wildlife.
Purchaser – you can avoid unwanted surprises about your purchase by having the seller accompany you to the local office. If there are any problems with the title, they can be resolved by the seller at that time. Do not purchase a used boat or outboard motor without receiving a signed title from the person(s) listed on the title or from their legally documented representative. If a legal representative signs the title for the recorded owner(s), you must obtain a copy of the documentation authorizing them to act on behalf of the owner(s). Purchases or gifts of boats or outboard motors that do not acquire the title and bill of sale will not be eligible for immediate transfer. These may be titled through a more expensive and lengthy bonded title process.
The seller must:
- Complete the tax affidavit portion of the Vessel Application form PWD 143 (PDF 434.8 KB) and/or Outboard Motor Application form PWD 144 (PDF 354.9 KB), sign and date each form; and
- If the boat or outboard motor is required to be titled, the seller must
provide one of the following in their name:
- MSO (if brand new); or
- Texas title; or
- Out of state title/registration (whichever is required by the previous state)
- On the back of the MSO, title or out of state title/registration, the seller must print the name of the purchaser, sign, and date. Brown colored titles (newer format for boats & motors) have spaces on the back of the title to fill in for the bill of sale information.
- If a hand written bill of sale is provided instead of on the title or signed tax affidavit portion on the PWD 143 (PDF 434.8 KB) and/or PWD 144 (PDF 354.9 KB), list the price of the trailer separately from the price of the boat and outboard motor. A valid bill of sale must contain the date of sale, sales price (excluding trailer), description of the boat and outboard motor (make, year, and TX or serial number), purchaser(s) name and seller(s) signature(s).
The purchaser must:
- Obtain the title signed on the back along with a bill of sale.
- Complete the rest of the application in the new owner's name, sign and date; and
- Out of state or not previously titled boats and motors must verify the serial number (HIN/MIN) by completing form PWD 504 (PDF 241.8 KB) (pencil tracing or photograph of the boat hull/identification AND/OR motor identification/serial number); and
- Submit application(s), assigned title(s), supporting documents, required fees and tax within 20 working days to Texas Parks and Wildlife Headquarters in Austin, a Texas Parks and Wildlife Law Enforcement field office or a participating County Tax Assessor-Collector office.
- Applications for transfer of title and ownership filed later than 20 working days from date of purchase are subject to tax penalties and interest.
A title printed in the seller's name is required to transfer ownership of a previously owned vessel and/or outboard motor titled in Texas. Check the Certificate of Number card. If there is a title on the boat, it will be designated "TITLED" on the card. The following forms may be used to replace a lost or destroyed Texas title.
- To replace a lost or destroyed Texas title for a vessel/boat, submit form PWD 143M (PDF 746.6 KB).
- To replace a lost or destroyed Texas title for an outboard motor, submit form PWD 144M (PDF 335.8 KB).
- The owner of record must apply if there is no lien. If there is a lien on our record and the lien has not been paid, the lien holder must apply. If there is a lien on our record and the lien has been paid, the owner of record may apply for a replacement title with the lien released by submitting form PWD 403 (PDF 298.2 KB), and one of the following:
Submit application and required fees to Texas Parks and Wildlife Headquarters in Austin, a Texas Parks and Wildlife Law Enforcement field office or a participating County Tax Assessor-Collector office.
Standard replacement titles print 21 days after being processed and are mailed from TPWD Headquarters. For an additional fee, you can expedite the printing of a replacement title. Quick titles print one day after being processed and are mailed from TPWD Headquarters.
Vessels and/or outboard motors coming from title states must surrender the title. Vessels coming from non-titling states (Registration Only), must surrender the registration certificate. Out of state boats and motors must verify the serial number (HIN/MIN) by completing form PWD 504 (PDF 241.8 KB) (pencil tracing or photograph of the boat hull/identification AND/OR motor identification/serial number).
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