Rhode Island Boat Bill of Sale Form


A Rhode Island boat bill of sale form records the transaction details of a vessel transfer between two (2) parties. It outlines the sale’s specifics, including the buyers’ and sellers’ names and addresses, a detailed boat description, and the agreed-upon price. Completing this form grants the buyer legal proof of ownership, facilitating a smooth and transparent transfer process. Individuals using this form should ensure that it is filled out accurately and retained for record-keeping, fulfilling both legal obligations and providing a concrete reference of the sale, safeguarding both parties involved.

  • Statutes: Title 46 Chapter 8
  • Signing Requirements: Each person involved in the ownership transfer must sign.

What is a Rhode Island Vessel Bill of Sale?

A Rhode Island vessel bill of sale outlines the boat’s information, such as its hull identification number (HIN), make, model, year, and other equipment or accessories included in the transfer.

The document fulfills the following purposes:

  • Assists as a transaction record;
  • Allows the owner to register the boat in the state;
  • Enables the individual to obtain marine insurance; and
  • Provides financial institutions with information when the owner seeks a loan or financing for the vessel.

Therefore, while its primary purpose is to validate and record the sale, the form plays a multifaceted role in safeguarding buyers’ rights and interests. Similarly, it addresses all legal and administrative requirements surrounding boat ownership.

Did You Know?

Individuals wishing to operate a motorized boat in Rhode Island must know the state’s boating safety certification requirements. Specifically, a boating safety certification is mandatory for locals born on or after January 1, 1986, who operate a boat with a motor exceeding ten (10) horsepower. To secure this certification, they must take an approved boating safety course and pass the associated exam.

Once the individual obtains this certification, it remains valid indefinitely, with no need for renewal. While the age-based requirement targets a specific demographic, the state recommends that all potential boaters undertake these safety courses, regardless of age. Overall, the process required to obtain the certification enhances knowledge and promotes safety on the waterways.

How to Register a Boat in Rhode Island (4 Steps)

All motorized boats and sailboats twelve (12) feet and longer require title and registration in Rhode Island. Non-motorized boats and those shorter than twelve (12) feet are exempt. Kayaks and canoes over fourteen (14) feet long must also have a title.

After purchasing, new owners have thirty (30) days to obtain the necessary documentation. The title provides proof of ownership, while registration allows the individual to operate the vessel within state waters legally. Residents must obtain documentation through the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM).

Out-of-state boaters bringing their vessel into Rhode Island can do so for up to ninety (90) consecutive days without issue. However, after this time, they must obtain documentation from the state to continue using their vessel locally.

Step 1 – Exemptions

In Rhode Island, certain boats do not meet the registration and titling requirements. Specifically, non-motorized boats and vessels less than twelve (12) feet in length are exempt from these obligations. Canoes, kayaks, rowboats, and similar vessels fall under this category so long as they are manually propelled and fall under the specified length.

Additionally, boats registered in another state and used in Rhode Island waters for ninety (90) consecutive days or less are exempt from the local registration requirement, provided they have valid registration from their home state. Boat owners need to be aware of these exemptions to ensure they comply with state boating regulations.

Step 2 – Title & Registration

Rhode Island residents must title and register their boat to legally use it in state waterways. Individuals must follow local protocols and guidelines to ensure their vessel has proper documentation.

Boat owners must complete the following forms and submit them (in-person or via mail) to the Rhode Island DEM:

In Rhode Island, ensuring that one’s boat is registered correctly is a legal requirement and a step towards responsible boating. By adhering to the state’s guidelines, boat owners contribute to safer waterways and a more organized marine community. 

Step 3 – Number & Decals

When Rhode Island boat owners register their rig, they receive a registration number and decals. A registration number is a distinctive identifier assigned to each boat, much like a license plate number for a car. Similarly, decals are stickers that validate the boat’s registration status, indicating that it is current and compliant with state regulations.

The state requires that residents apply their registration number and decals on their vessels following local requirements. To apply the information, individuals must place the registration number on both sides of the boat’s bow (i.e., the front part of the vessel). This number must appear in a manner that reads from left to right and in a color that contrasts with the boat’s exterior to ensure it’s easily visible. Each part of the number must have a space or a hyphen, such as “RI 1234 ZZ” or “RI-1234-ZZ”.

In addition, the owner must affix the state registration decal within six (6) inches of the registration number. Correctly positioning the number and the decal ensures that other vessel drivers and law enforcement can identify them while navigating state waterways.

Step 4 – Renew

Renewing a boat registration in Rhode Island ensures the legal operation of a resident’s vessel on state waters. Vessel owners typically receive a renewal reminder from the Rhode Island DEM before expiration to start the renewal process. However, even if the individual doesn’t receive a reminder, they remain responsible for renewing promptly.

Boat registrations in Rhode Island are valid for two (2) years. Owners complete the renewal process online, providing boat details and paying the appropriate fee. Alternatively, they can mail the renewal forms with the necessary payment. Regardless, residents must review any changes to the vessel details, such as ownership or address, to ensure accurate renewal. 

Once processed, the Rhode Island DEM mails the individual a new decal. The owner must replace the old sticker on the boat with the new one. They must also keep the updated registration onboard while using the watercraft.

Mailing Address:
Department of Environmental Management
235 Promenade Street
Room 360
Providence, RI 02908