Indiana Boat Bill of Sale Form


An Indiana boat bill of sale form is a multi-use document utilized by buyers and sellers to transfer ownership of a vessel permanently. The Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV) provides the free, state-approved form to residents, which allows them to complete it by hand or electronically. It has the boat’s hull identification number (HIN), year, make, model, registration number, purchase price, and sale date. Each person also enters their contact details, signature, and date of signing.

  • Statutes: IC 9-31
  • Signing Requirements: Buyers, sellers, and co-owners need to include their signatures in the document to validate it.

What is an Indiana Vessel Bill of Sale?

An Indiana vessel bill of sale captures the minutiae of a business matter between a transferor and transferee. Both parties must agree to the sale price and the exchange method. If the owner presents the vessel to another person as a gift, then the bill of sale must reflect the deal. Under all circumstances, the document functions as a critical component of boat transfers because it protects the buyer and seller from unlawful claims. Each person can use the form to prove the purchase and reassignment of ownership.

Did You Know?

Indiana driver’s licenses serve as boating permits to operate a vessel. Individuals who do not have an ID must pass a boater education course to obtain a card. This law includes fifteen (15) year old residents who cannot yet apply for a driver’s license. No one under the age of fifteen (15) can legally use a boat in the state. When driving the vessel, operators must possess their card or driver’s license (IC 14-15-11-16).

How to Register a Boat in Indiana (5 Steps)

In-state dwellers must register and title their boat within forty-five (45) days of acquiring ownership. Newcomers must transfer their information no later than sixty (60) days after establishing residency in Indiana.

Out-of-state operators can use their vessel for up to sixty (60) back-to-back days before needing an Indiana title and registration. Boat patrol closely monitors residents to ensure they have the required information. If they do not, the individual can receive fines or, in rare cases, criminal charges.

Step 1 – Qualifications

Motorized watercraft and sailboats must obtain a title and registration through an Indiana Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) office. Exemptions include:

  • Boats from another county residing in Indiana waters temporarily;
  • A ship’s lifeboat;
  • Watercraft residing within state borders for less than sixty (60) consecutive days or residing on the Indiana section of Lake Michigan for less than one hundred and eighty (180) consecutive days;
  • Government-owned vessels;
  • Boats purchased less than forty-five (45) days prior where the operator has a completed and signed bill of sale form (containing the buyer’s name and address, date of purchase, and the boat’s make, model, and HIN);
  • Watercraft for sale by the dealer; and
  • Commercial vessels that pay tonnage tax.

Step 2 – Title

Residents must title their newly purchased vessel within forty-five (45) days of acquiring ownership. Non-residents must transfer the title and registration to Indiana within sixty (60) days of moving to the state. Titling must happen before registration.

All boats operated in Indiana must have a title, including:

  • Vessels purchased before January 1, 1986;
  • Homemade watercraft;
  • New ships with a value of less than $3,000;
  • Non-residents who use or store their boat in Indiana for more than sixty (60) consecutive days per year;
  • Sailboats (no motor); and
  • Watercraft and non-motorized boats (registered per the owner’s request).

Individuals who cannot provide ownership evidence must submit a court order packet to the BMV. The bundle includes 1) an application for a certificate of title for a vehicle, 2) an application for a certificate of watercraft title, 3) an affidavit of missing title information, 4) a physical inspection of a vehicle or watercraft, 5) an odometer disclosure statement, and 6) a collection of payment information.

Step 3 – Register

After obtaining a title, the boat owner must apply for registration. If the new or previous owners want another person to carry out the tasks in their place, they must complete a limited power of attorney (Form 1940). The representative or registering office must have the form to verify their authority to act for the principal.

Taxpayers must complete a Certificate of Gross Retail or Use Tax Paid (Form ST-108) if they previously paid their annual state fees. Individuals who do not qualify (also known as “exempt”) must provide a Certificate of Gross Retail or Use Tax Paid Exemption (Form ST-108E).

Exempt individuals or residents who cannot provide the title must submit a Watercraft Ownership Affidavit (Form 551000). In addition, owners of homemade boats must request a hull identification number (HIN) from the state using the Application for Special Identification Number (Form 12907).

Provide the Following:

Step 4 – Decals + Number

Approved registrars receive a certificate number (e.g., IN-9485-FK) and two (2) excise tax decals. They have a legal duty to apply them to the boat in the manner required by the state.

The owner must paint or attach the number to both front ends of the vessel. Each section of numbers and letters must have two (2)-inches of space between them. The color must stand out against its background in block-style letters three (3) inches tall. It can only have one (1) color so that others can see it from one hundred (100) feet away.

Both decals must appear on the vessel to the right of the number. It must sit aligned with the number three (3) inches away from it.

Step 5 – Renew

Boat registrations last for one (1) year (IC 14-15-6-1). Residents must defer to the state’s expiration schedule, which determines the renewal date according to their last name. Applicants can renew online, send documents by mail, or visit an INDR location.

Mailing Address:
Department of Natural Resources
402 West Washington St.
Indianapolis, IN 46204