It is important to check the boat's documentation before purchasing a previously owned boat or watercraft. The U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) and some states, such as South Carolina, allow potential buyers of used boats to check the boat's status by using the registration number and the other data of the vessel:
- Visit your state's department of natural resources watercraft buyer's guide
Navigate to the registration and titling information, and check if there is a boat buyer's guide or an option to check the status of a boat on the page. If there is, provide the information requested, such as the registration number or the motor number. A check on the registration number of the boat can provide details such as the state where the boat is currently registered and damage reports.
- Check the vessel's documentation by name
Access the USCG vessel database if you have the name of the boat and if the registration number is missing or cannot be located. Visit the Office of Science and Technology on the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association website, and navigate to the vessel documentation page. Input the name of the vessel, and find it on the list. It should be noted that the USCG only retrieves data from five net tons or larger vessels.
- Search the registered boat by ID
The USCG also allows boat owners and buyers to check a vessel documentation by its provided USCG identification number. Input the ID on the search box to check the vessel's registration number and other data collected from authorized agencies.