A certificate of title is a legal document that proves ownership. Boat titling is different from boat registration, because a certificate of registration does not prove ownership. A certificate of title requires all owners of a boat to sign off on their interests when selling and provides the purchaser with proper documentation for titling and registering a boat. Application forms are the same ones used for boat registration and are available at county treasurer’s offices, certain boat dealerships, on the PFBC website, at PFBC’s headquarters in Harrisburg and at PFBC regional law enforcement offices.
Boat titling is required for all inboard motorboats (regardless of length) and personal watercraft with a model year of 1997 or newer AND all outboard motorboats 14 feet or more in length with a model year of 1997 or newer. At the request of the owner, the Commission will issue a title to any boat, regardless of the length, power source or year the boat was manufactured at the request of the owner. However, once a title is issued, that boat must remain titled by future owners. Also, anyone with a boat currently titled in another state must obtain a Pennsylvania title when Pennsylvania becomes the state of principle use, regardless of the age, size or length of the boat.
The fee for titling a boat is $15. There is an additional encumbrance fee of $5 if there is a lien against the boat. The fee for a duplicate title is $5.
Boat titling assures the buyer of a boat that the seller has clear ownership of a boat offered for sale. Some lenders won’t finance a boat without a title, so securing a loan to purchase a boat may be easier if the boat is titled. Boaters who register and title their boats have more security. In the event of boat theft, such boats are easier to identify.