When you have a boat to sell, you will need a correct and complete boat bill of sale to make the sale final. Without this important document, the buyer might not be able to insure their new boat or register it, and you could be on the hook for costs that you did not incur while using the boat. Just like with a car or a house, you will want to make sure that you have the boat bill of sale form ready to be used when you transfer ownership of the boat to someone else.
Boats are often very expensive to buy, which also means that you will want to document that the sale of the boat has been completed correctly and completely through the boat bill of sale template that you have written. Sales documents are always a good idea for any sale, big or small, so you will want to be sure that you get used to creating bills of sale or items that you have sold to another person.
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Boat Bill of Sale Templates
What is a bill of sale for a boat?
The bill of sale that you write for your boat is proof that the new owner paid in full and took possession of the boat that you had for sale. You can use a generic boat bill of sale for smaller purchases, but if the boat is very expensive, you might need to add some additional information to make the details of the sale clear. This is the official record of the sale of the boat, and it is one that will be needed for various processes related to the transfer of ownership.
This document might also be called the purchase agreement, or it could be called the bill of sale. Either name is acceptable. The legal nature of the document is not changed just because of the name of the document itself. There might be standard naming conventions that are used for this kind of sale in your state, and you can stick to those standards when drafting your boat bill of sale if you wish.
Boat sales can include some additional items that might impact the way that the contract is written. These are the types of sales that you might need to document when selling a boat:
- Boat Sold Without a Trailer. This is not a common way to sell a boat since the trailer that your boat is transported with is made to match it. Boat trailers are not like other kinds of trailers and cannot be used with different boats. Most boat sales are made with the trailer that came with it when it was sold to the original owner. If you are selling your boat without a trailer, you need to specify this clearly in the sales documents.
- Boat Sold With a Trailer. This is by far the most common way to sell a boat, and most boats will be sold with a trailer. You will need to have information for the trailer to include in the bill of sale, and you will need to add some additional cost to your sale to cover the trailer in most cases. The trailer will also need to be registered and licensed for use by the new owner, so you will want to include this information in your sales document.
- Coast Guard Sale. When your boat is federally documented (registered with the US Coast Guard), you will need to write a document that indicates the information related to this registration. You will also need to collect an official Coast Guard Bill of Sale to add to the documentation that you are creating for the sale. This is critical for the new owner, and the process of transferring this kind of boat is more complex due to this factor that impacts the use of the boat.
Boat Purchase Agreements
How to write a bill of sale for a boat
Remember that you might be selling your boat with or without a trailer. Make sure that you have the trailer information on hand before you start writing your boat bill of sale. It can take a few days to collect the information that you need for the trailer if you do not have it on hand, which can delay the sale of the boat.
- Buyer and Seller Information. The buyer and the seller need to be carefully identified in this part of the document by their legal names. Make sure that you do not use nicknames, and be sure that you have all the parties who are buying the boat listed in the document. You cannot leave out someone who is going to be named on the boat title, or the sales document might be invalid or could cause issues for the new owner when they transfer ownership. Make sure that all the parties provide their current address and a phone number or email for this section as well. This helps to facilitate contact between the parties and makes it easier to identify the people who are involved in the sales process.
- Watercraft Description. The description of the boat should be detailed and thorough in this part of the contract. Boats can have many modifications made to them, and a make and a model are not usually enough information to correctly identify a boat. There will be a hull identification number that you need to include, and you will want to indicate the condition, any modifications that have been made to the boat, and additional items that might be sold with it. These details will help to prove that the buyer has the boat that is named in the sales document, and this will also make registration and insurance transfers much easier for the new boat owner.
- Title and Registration. The title for the boat will need to be signed over to the new owner, and the registration information will need to be provided to help make sure that registration is transferred correctly. It is in the best interest of the current owner of the boat to facilitate all of the necessary processes that need to be completed to transfer ownership of the boat to the new owner. The more detail that you include in this part of the document, the better.
- Price and Payment Method. The price of the boat will need to be clearly stated, and you will want to indicate if you are taking cash, a check, a money order, or some other form of payment for the boat. You can also indicate that you have done a trade for something of equal value. If a trade has taken place, make sure that the information about the traded item is clearly stated in this part of the documentation. This kind of action can lead to disputes in the future if there is no clear documentation of the items that were traded during the boat sale. If you are accepting payments, you will need to make it clear that the payments are to be delivered on certain dates, in certain amounts, and through specific delivery methods. The clearer that you are about the expectations related to payment, the better.
- Date and Location of the Sale. The date of the sale and the place where it was completed are important details in case there are discussions about the validity of the sale later on. You will need to be sure that this part of the document is correct and make adjustments if the date or the location of the transfer of ownership changes after the document has been drafted.
- Signatures of All Parties Involved. All of the people who are named as new owners of the boat need to sign and date their signature lines. The current owner of the boat will need to do the same. This validates the boat bill of sale and makes it active and correct. Make sure that you do not miss any of the necessary signatures, or the new owner will not be able to register the boat or place insurance on it.
- Notary if Needed In some states, your boat bill of sale might have to be notarized. Make sure that you verify if this step is needed in order to make the agreement legally binding. This is not always required, but when a notary witness is needed, you cannot sign the documents until a notary is present.
Consider adding a warranty as to the condition of the boat as well. Most people sell boats as-is, and you will want to consider this a good default way to clear yourself of any responsibility for things that are not exactly as the new owners wish they would be down the road. Boats can require a lot of upkeep and care, and you do not want to be left on the hook for damage that the new owner caused and now wants you to pay for.
Make sure that you consider getting pictures of the boat on the day of the sale as well. You will need to be thorough in your documentation of the condition of the boat on the day that it was sold, just in case the new owner wants to contend that damage that they have caused was present on the day that they bought the boat.
Boat Bill of Sale Forms
Ways to make the boat sales process easier
There are some things that you can do to make your boat sales process simple. Make sure that you are prepared to sell your boat, and the day of the sale will be much easier.
- Clean and Photograph the Boat. Make sure that the boat is clean and that you have photographed all the various parts of the boat carefully. This will prevent disputes down the road and proves the condition of the boat at the time of the sale.
- Gather Documentation. Make sure that you give a copy of all of the records and information about the boat to the new owners if you have this information. This might be repairs, insurance documentation, the boat title, and anything else that has been recorded about the boat during your time as its owner.
- Make Sure That the Price is Not in Dispute. Be sure that you and the buyer have agreed upon a price before the day of the sale. Haggling over the price of the boat should be long over with by the time that the transfer of ownership is to take place. You will need to have the current sales price information in the documentation that you have created to finalize the sale. Changing the sales price of the boat on the day of pickup and transfer can cause an issue with the boat sales documentation that you will want to avoid.
Generic Boat Bill of Sale
Boat sales documents are key to finalizing boat sales
If you have a boat that is for sale, you need to be sure that you have a boat bill of sale on hand to finalize the sales process. A boat is the kind of item that you never want to sell without proper documentation to back the sale. This is a simple document to draft, and you will be glad that you took the time to learn to write a quality bill of sale for future sales that you might need to complete.
When you are selling a boat to someone else, the more detail that you include in your sales documentation, the better. The clarity of your records and your identification of the boat in question will help to ensure that the sales process is smooth and that the new owner can register and insure the boat right away when they take ownership. You will save both you and the new owner time when you create a well-constructed bill of sale to finalize your boat sales process.