How to Register a Boat Without Title in Maryland

Maryland is a great place for boating, beginning from the lakes and rivers to the bay. However, you need to know how to register a boat without title in Maryland to sail the waters if your boat has no title.

how to register a boat without title in Maryland


To register a boat without a title in Maryland, determine if the boat is eligible for registration, prepare your paperwork, obtain a notarized bill of sale and contact the Maryland DNR (Department of Natural Resources) to pay the title and registration fees.

The Maryland DNR is responsible for boat titling and registration. You visit any of the nearby offices after arming yourself with the correct registration and titling paperwork and fees mentioned in this article.


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How to register a boat without title in Maryland

This article takes you through only 5 steps to get a title for your Maryland boat if you have none. Some sections are elaborated to feed you with all information.

Below are the steps to register a boat without title in Maryland:

  1. Determine the registration eligibility of your boat

In Maryland, you must title and register your boat if it uses any auxiliary mechanical propulsion and will operate in Maryland the most in a calendar year.


If you bought your no-title boat out of state but it has some kind of registration that replaces a title, you must register it in Maryland if you operate it in the waters for more than 90 days in a year.

However, if your no-title boat was documented with the US Coast Guard, you may not be required to title it but must display a documented use decal if you use it in Maryland waters the most.

  1. Prepare your paperwork

This second step is quite detailed, so focus on the section of it that is applicable to you.

For a new boat without title:

You need a completed DNR Form B-240 (Application for Title and Registration), original Manufacturer’s Certificate of Origin (MCO), or a notarized bill of sale (if the MCO does not contain your name, boat price, date of sale, and your signature).

If you buy a new boat online (the internet) with no title, include the following documents:

  • Photograph of Hull identification number or pencil tracing.
  • Evidence of payment.

However, you may not need pencil tracing or a photograph of the hull identification number and evidence of payment if the length of your boat is 12’ or smaller.

For a used boat without title

  • No title state. If the state you bought your boat is a no title state such as Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Hawaii, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Tennessee, and Wyoming, you need the Application for Title and Registration (DNR Form B-240), a copy of out-of-state registration card and notarized bill of sale.
  • U.S. Coast Guard documented boat. According to the Maritime Documentation Center, “a documented vessel is one listed in the Coast Guard database and part of the federal registry.” If you have a USCG documented boat, you need a USCG stamped bill of sale, a photocopy of the current Certificate of Documentation, and an Application for Title and Registration (DNR Form B-240), USCG Abstract of Title, and Release of ship’s mortgage (if any).

For an abandoned boat without title

A typical abandoned boat has no title. Without a title, you can try registering the boat at the MD DNR as an abandoned boat. However, Maryland DNR claims to register a boat with no title as an abandoned boat is not the solution for not having a boat title.

For Maryland, an abandoned boat is one that remained at a location without the consent of the owner or person in control of the property for:

Do you have to have a title for a boat in Maryland

Follow the steps below to legally obtain a title for an abandoned title without one:

  • Identify the owner. Use the boat number or hull identification number to contact the legal owner or lienholder. Obtain this information from the boat licensing agency where the boat was previously registered, identify the agency using the first 2 letters of the boat number.
  • Notify the owner. Send a return receipt requested and a registered letter to the last known address of the boat owner or lienholder.
  • Content of the letter. In your letter, advise the recipient to claim their boat within 30 days, otherwise, it will be claimed through the abandoned boat law. See the sample letter you should rewrite below:

maryland boat no title letter

If the owner or lienholder cannot be determined, you do not need the letter. Instead, you must place a notice in a newspaper that is generally circulated in the county you found the abandoned boat.

Your newspaper notice must include the boat description, location, identifying numbers, and a statement that ownership will be claimed within 30 days of the newspaper publication date (if no claimant).

If no claimant, process the title application through the MD DNR. You need to submit a completed Application for Title and Registration (DNR Form B-240), Proof of owner notification (DNR Form B-117).

However, if the owner or lienholder is not identified, submit a written explanation of your attempts to locate the owner or lienholder.

If the owner has been identified, you will make an original signed registered letter receipt, or returned envelope marked “Undeliverable” by the post office and a copy of the notification letter.

If you do not own the land where the abandoned boat is located, obtain the owner’s written authorization for you to claim ownership of the abandoned boat and register it in your name.

Other documents you need are:

  • Certificate of Publication for a legal notice issued by the newspaper.
  • Photographs of the boat.
  • Tracing of the vessel’s hull identification number or serial number.

For homemade boat without title

You can register a boat without a title as a homemade boat. However, you have to restore it and have proof of receipt of the parts.

The next thing is to prepare a completed Application for Title and Registration (DNR Form B-240) and Builder’s Certificate Of Origin (Form B-104)

See the criteria for your homemade boat registration.

  1. Writing a bill of sale

Since you have no title for your boat, you want the bill of sale to meet the MD DNR requirement. Here is a bill of sale from the DNR, use it.

The Maryland DNR recommends that your certified or notarized bill of sale should contain this statement:

I declare and affirm under penalty of perjury that the facts in this bill of sale are true and correct.

It must also include the names of the buyer and seller, date of purchase/sale, seller’s signature, sale amount, and boat description. The boat description must include the manufacturer, year, hull identification number, and/or current registration number.

For an abandoned boat, the DNR service center may issue you a signed bill of sale since you are technically receiving the abandoned boat with no title from the state (Maryland).

  1. Contact the MD DNR

At this point, you have followed the first 3 steps to prepare the required paperwork for your no-title boat.

The DNR is responsible for the boat title and registration. You can submit your paperwork in person or mail it to any of the Maryland DNR Service Centers.

Note that Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) service centers are open by appointment only.

After scheduling the appointment online, you will receive a confirmation through the email address that you provide, so ensure to submit a valid email address. You can also change or cancel your appointment through the email notification you receive.

Note: The MD DNR is strict about using face coverings before you can enter any of the service centers.

  1. Pay the registration/title fees

You will pay the following fees to register a boat without title in Maryland:

  • Title fee: $2.
  • Registration fee: $24.
  • Documented decal: $10 (paid for USCG documented vessels instead of the registration fee).
  • Security interest filing fee: $15 (if a lien is to be recorded). But in your case, no title means no lien.
  • Vessel excise tax or sales tax: 5% (five percent) of the boat value.

The vessel excise tax is paid into the Waterway Improvement Fund to improve waterways in Maryland.

Read also: How to treat a boat you buy under a business

Your fee payments can be made through checks or money orders, pay to the Maryland DNR the exact amount of your fees.

Note: If your USCG documented boat is 16 feet in length or less and/or uses a motor of 7.5 hp or less, you do not pay the decal fee but will display the 2-year registration decal.

Final thoughts

Before you begin this process of getting a title for your boat with no title in Maryland, make sure the hull identification number (HIN) on the hull of your boat is the same as your paperwork. You will have a problem titling and registering with Maryland DNR if the ID number does not correspond. It is advisable to casually contact the DNR for instructions if this is your case.

Read also: Floridians can also title a boat without a title


Do you have to have a title for a boat in Maryland?

You have to have a title for a boat in Maryland to operate on Maryland waterways.

Do you need a title for a Jon boat in Maryland?

You need a title for a Jon boat in Maryland if it is powered by a motor.

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