Pennsylvania Boat Bill of Sale Form


A Pennsylvania boat bill of sale form details the sale and purchase of a vessel within the state. It records the transaction, including specifics such as the boat’s make, model, year, price, and the names and addresses of the buyer and seller. This form serves as proof of ownership for the buyer, which is crucial when registering the watercraft in Pennsylvania or obtaining insurance. It also offers legal protection for both parties, ensuring they agree upon and acknowledge all stated terms, reducing potential disputes or misunderstandings.

  • Statutes: Chapter 53
  • Signing Requirements: Both parties must include their signatures.

What is a Pennsylvania Vessel Bill of Sale?

A Pennsylvania vessel bill of sale cements the details of a maritime transaction between a buyer and seller. Buyers must ensure that they complete the document entirely and accurately, as discrepancies might lead to complications or additional costs during registration. In addition to personal details and boat specifics, the form may highlight any warranties or ‘as-is’ clauses, specifying guarantees about the boat’s condition. To establish its validity, the buyer and seller should sign, preferably in the presence of a notary public, adding an extra layer of authenticity to the transaction.

Did You Know?

Pennsylvania legislation requires a boating license for all residents born on or after January 1, 1982, wishing to operate a personal watercraft or motorized vessel over twenty-five (25) horsepower. Residents twelve (12) years and older can apply for the Boating Safety Education Certificate after completing an approved course.

The classes are available online and in-person via the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission (PFBC) or authorized third-party organizations. Once the individual acquires their certification, they do not need to renew it as it has no expiration date. However, they must keep the documentation onboard while operating the vessel to ensure compliance with the law.

How to Register a Boat in Pennsylvania (4 Steps)

Registering a boat in Pennsylvania is essential for boat owners to ensure legal operation on state waters. Upon purchasing, new owners have a grace period of twenty (20) days to register their vessel. The PFBC supervises the process as applicants complete the paperwork in-person. Proper registration ensures compliance with state laws while aiding in identification and recovery in case of theft or emergencies.

Step 1 – Exemptions

In Pennsylvania, not all boats require registration. Vessels exempt from this prerequisite include:

  1. Boats powered by paddles or oars: This regulation includes canoes, kayaks, and rowboats.
  2. Unpowered boats operated on waters located entirely on the owner’s private property: This law applies to individuals using their vessel on their private pond or lake.
  3. Boats registered in another state: Individuals can operate out-of-state boats in Pennsylvania waters for up to sixty (60) consecutive days each year.
  4. Lifeboats: Specifically those used solely as life-saving equipment.
  5. Unpowered, inflatable boats: This exemption applies if the vessel is less than eight (8) feet long.

Boat owners should always stay up-to-date with the specific guidelines and updates from the PFBC to ensure they’re compliant, as regulations can change.

Step 2 – Title & Registration

All powered boats (motorboats) in Pennsylvania require registration with a PFBC office. However, only some need titling. These include:

  • Boats powered by an inboard motor from the 1997 model year or newer;
  • Outboard motorboats fourteen (14); feet or longer from the 1997 model year or earlier;
  • Boats with a Pennsylvania title; and
  • Vessels that were formerly titled in another state when Pennsylvania became their primary usage state. 

After the initial titling, each subsequent owner must obtain a title in their name. If the boat does not require documentation, the individual can voluntarily opt for one. Residents wishing to register and title a powered vessel in the state must complete an Application for Pennsylvania Boat Registration and/or Boat Title (REV-336). 

Vessels without a previous title or registration also require proof of ownership. Owners of watercraft from another state can use official documentation from that jurisdiction. New boats require a Manufacturer’s Certificate of Origin (MCO). Residents must also provide a bill of sale or invoice detailing the seller and purchaser’s names and addresses, the sale’s location and date, the boat’s description, and the hull identification number (for boats made post-1972).

Boats with a Pennsylvania registration or title require proof of ownership. If previously titled, the owner must provide the properly signed document. Conversely, if the vessel only had a registration, the individual must submit the card signed by the last owner or a bill of sale signed by the previous registered owner. 

In some cases, the bill of sale or the registration card/title signed by the preceding registered owner can substitute for seller details in Sections F and J of the application. Nonetheless, there might be circumstances where more paperwork is needed.

Step 3 – Number & Decals

Pennsylvania watercraft owners must display their boat’s registration number and decal. Before this step, they must register the vessel with the PFBC, after which they will receive the necessary information.

Both sides of the bow must have a registration number. The owner can permanently affix it to the body or paint it on the vessel. Regardless, it must appear in clear block letters at least three (3) inches high and of a color contrasting with the boat’s paint.

The state also provides a decal indicating that the boat has a proper registration for the current period. Owners are responsible for placing it within six (6) inches of the registration number towards the stern on both sides.

Pennsylvania law requires the proper display of the registration number and decal as it helps to identify the vessel. In addition, it ensures that it has legal tags, allowing it to operate on state waters.

Step 4 – Renew

Boat registration and decals in Pennsylvania expire on March 31 of every odd-numbered year. Renewals can occur online or by mail.

Vessel owners can use the state’s online system to renew their registration. The website lists a set of instructions for individuals to follow. The process requires the registrar to have specific information, such as their driver’s license and payment method. In some cases, they may also need their certificate of number and hull identification number available. 

Renewing boat tags and decals by mail requires several steps. First, the owner must complete the Boat Registration and/or Boat Title Application form (REV-336). They can obtain this form on the PFBC website or at a regional office. Applicants must also prepare the renewal fees, which vary based on the vessel’s length. Next, they must mail the completed application and payment to the PFBC Headquarters in Harrisburg.

Owners who misplace or destroy their boat decals, registration card, or title can request a replacement by mailing the PFBC Headquartments. They must use either a Change of Address, Status, or Request for Duplicate Certificate of Registration Form (PFBC-732) or Application for Duplicate Certificate of Title or to Record, Satisfy, or Correct Lien Information by Lienholder Form (PFBC-T2). 

Mailing Address:
Division of Licensing and Registration
PO Box 68900
Harrisburg, PA 17106-8900