Maine Boat Bill of Sale Form


A Maine boat bill of sale form finalizes the transfer of vessels from one person to another. After discussing the terms of the arrangement, the buyer and seller fill out the document together. They both must agree on the information provided therein, including (but not limited to) a description of the boat, the contact details for each person involved, and the payment method. The document holds legal value once the parties sign their names.

  • Statutes: Title 12, Chapter 935
  • Signing Requirements: The buyer and seller must inscribe in the noted fields.

What is a Maine Vessel Bill of Sale?

A Maine vessel bill of sale reports a compromise between a buyer and seller. A person looking over the document should immediately know how to contact either party and how they reassigned boat ownership. Since the document functions as a legal contract, both people must fulfill their role in a written manner. If they do not, the other person can file a lawsuit or take other relevant legal action, depending on the situation at hand.

Private sales do not include warranties or allow for returns and reimbursements. Therefore, the buyer should research the vessel beforehand to make sure its suitable for use and does not have an accident history. Buyers can legally have a mechanic look over the boat before purchasing to ensure it does not have extensive damages, rust, or other issues that could impact its usability.

Did You Know?

Per Maine law, individuals twelve (12) years or older can operate a vessel over ten (10) horsepower if 1) they have a boating license or 2) a person sixteen (16) years or older is in the boat. Drivers must have their boating license with them while operating the watercraft. Otherwise, they must pay fines and can receive additional penalties. The state offers both online and in-person courses through its government website.

How to Register a Boat in Maine (6 Steps)

Boat registrations run from January 1st to December 31st each year. Residents must obtain the necessary documentation from a Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW) Regional Office.

Individuals from another state or county can use their boat in Maine waters for up to sixty (60) consecutive days before needing an in-state registration.

After selling a boat, the previous owner must take off the decal stickers and destroy them. Then, they must notify the MDIFW within ten (10) days of the transfer.

Step 1 – Exemption

Most boats require registration in Maine; however, the following do not apply to the requirements:

  • Boats that have a U.S. marine document;
  • Commercial fishing boats (weighing more than five (5) net tons);
  • Military vessels;
  • Public boats;
  • Government-used watercraft;
  • The lifeboat of a ship; and
  • Boats registered with the racing association.

Step 2 – Excise Taxes

Boaters must pay their annual excise taxes before registering their boat for the year (or first time). Residents must pay their town directly, whereas non-residents must send payment to the city where the ship resides most of the time.

The vessel’s owner needs to obtain proof of the paid taxes. Then, they must submit the document with their registration application. Boats that do not require registration still need to attach a paid annual excise tax sticker.

Per state law, only specific watercraft must pay yearly excise tax. This requirement does not pertain to the following boats:

  • Lifeboats or rafts towed by another vessel;
  • Boats listed as “for sale” by a dealer;
  • Commercial vessels that do not have an operation base in Maine;
  • Watercraft not in Maine for greater than seventy-five (75) days of the year;
  • Manually-propelled boats twenty (20) feet or less; and
  • Vessels exempt from property taxes.

Step 3 – Register

Maine registers but does not title vessels. Residents can find application information online or call a registered agent at 207-287-8000.

First-time registrations happen in person. Before attending the appointment, the boat owner must pay their excise tax (or obtain exemption documents). Otherwise, the state will turn them away, thus delaying registration.

Step 4 – “Preserve Maine Waters” Sticker

Maine requires in-state and out-of-state boaters to have a “Preserve Maine Waters” (or “Milfoil”) sticker visible when operating it on rivers and lakes in the state. The bodies of water, otherwise known as inland waters, can quickly become contaminated by aquatic invasive species (AIS).

Since AIS deteriorates boats, it impacts drivers’ ability to use the lake or river for leisure activities, such as driving, fishing, or swimming. As a result, the state considers it “illegal” to place a contaminated boat in Maine’s inland waters.

Residents automatically pay the sticker fee of $15 when registering their boat. Non-residents must obtain a sticker online for $45. It takes about one (1) to two (2) business days to mail to the listed address. Agents can also provide stickers to out-of-state boaters. Interested parties can call the MDIFW at 207-287-8000.

Step 5 – Number + Decals

Once the MDIFW accepts the registration, they provide a unique number and decals to the registrar, who must attach them to the boat. The number begins with “ME,” which stands for Maine. Next, it has four (4) numerals and two (2) alphabetical letters. The entire sequence could appear in the following format: ME 4950 FH.

Federal law requires the owner to display the information on the vessel in the manner listed below. It is illegal to operate a boat without an adequately expressed registration number and decals.

  1. The owner must exhibit the number in paint or a decal on the boat’s front half (the “bow).
  2. Displays must extend left to right on both sides of the vessel.
  3. Each number must stand at least three (3) inches high in a block-style format.
  4. The sequence’s color must stand out from its background (i.e., the boat’s paint).
  5. All three (3) sections must have a space between them.
  6. Other numbers and stickers cannot appear near the number or decal on the bow.
  7. The decal must go on both sides of the ship, three (3) inches to the right of the number, and aligned with it.

Step 6 – Renew

Boat registrations last for one (1) year as they extend from January 1st to December 31st each year. Owners can renew in person, by mail, or online (if their municipality qualifies). They must provide their personal information and the boat’s details, such as the serial number and registration number. Online renewals require an electronic form of payment (i.e., a credit or debit card).

Individuals can begin renewing starting on December 1st of the year. However, they must pay their excise taxes before they become eligible to reapply.

Owners must notify the MDIFW within ten (10) days of changing their address. They must also report to the state if the boat is stolen, destroyed, recovered, abandoned, or permanently removed from Maine.

Mailing Address:
Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife
41 State House Station
Augusta, ME 04333-0041