How To Get a Title For a Boat Without Title in Ohio (Real FACTS)

How To Get a Title For a Boat Without Title in Ohio

Have you ever wondered how to get a title for a boat without a title in Ohio? Look no more. We´ve got you covered.

Titles prove ownership of a vehicle or trailer. When purchasing a car, boat, or trailer, you should always make sure that the owner has a title.

If you plan to sell a car, boat, or trailer and you do not have the trailer, you can obtain a replacement to help make the sale legal and official.

In the State of Ohio, most boats will need to be titled and registered. In this article, we will dive into the title requirements and how you can obtain a title if you do not have one for your boat.

Why Would a Boat Not Have a Title?

There are several different reasons a boat may not have a title. The solution for getting a title will depend on the situation a boat is in. Some of the reasons a boat may not have a title include:

  • The title was lost
  • The title was destroyed
  • The boat was handmade
  • The boat has been stolen
  • The boat did not need a title when it was first purchased, but now it does

How to Get a Title for a Boat if the Title Was Lost

A missing title is probably the most common reason a boat would not have a trailer. Titles can be lost in moves, thrown away, or simply misplaced. Luckily, replacing a missing title can be a simple process in Ohio:

1. Find the County Clerk of Courts Title Office closest to you. You can find this by going to this website and entering your zip code.

2. Fill out an application for Certificate of Title to Motor Vehicle.

  • To fill out this application you will need:
    • Your name
    • Your address
    • Your social security number
    • The year of the boat
    • The body type of the boat
    • The HIN of the boat, if applicable
    • The make of the boat
    • The model of the boat
    • Lien information for the boat, if applicable
  • If you are the current owner of the boat and you need a replacement for a lost title, you should fill out the application for “Duplicate Certificate Title.”

3. Bring your ID (driver’s license, generally. Call your local office if you do not have a driver’s license and would like to use alternate identification) and payment to your local County Clerk of Courts Title Office. An employee there will help you replace your title.

If you do not wish to go to the office in person, you can mail in the application and corresponding fees. Remember, when mailing in the application, you will need to have it notarized.

How to Get a title for a Boat if the Title Was Destroyed

Titles are important documents, and they should be kept safe. However, accidents happen, and sometimes a title can be destroyed. This is particularly common in-house floods and fires.

To replace a destroyed title, you will follow the same steps as if the title was lost (see above).

How to Get a Title for a Boat if the Boat was Stolen

If you are the thief who stole the boat, it should go without saying that you have committed a crime and you cannot legally obtain a title for that boat.

However, the more common reason someone would be facing a missing title due to theft would be if someone stole the boat and then attempted to sell it.

Take note before you purchase a boat without a title that it is illegal to sell or buy a boat in Ohio if the boat does not have a title.

If the seller does not have a title, you can offer to help pay for the application fee to obtain a replacement title. If the seller is unwilling to obtain a title, stay away from the boat!

How to Get a Title for a Boat if the Boat was Handmade

Handmade boats generally do not have titles. The reason for this is until it is registered, there is no formal record of the boat.

Luckily, Ohio has steps to help you register a home-built boat so that you can legally take it to the water and/or sell it someday.


Obtaining a HIN is the most important part of titling a home-built boat in Ohio. HIN stands for Hull Identification Number.

It is a number that is unique to a particular boat. It is similar to the VIN used for automobiles. The HIN is 12 characters and it can be used to trace the origin and history of a boat.

You can apply for a Hull Identification Number through the Ohio Department of Natural Resources Watercraft Division. You will need to contact the office to obtain a HIN for your homemade boat. The office may require an inspection before they will issue the HIN.

Once you have obtained your HIN, you can apply for a title through the County Clerk of Courts Title Office. From this point on, the process is similar to if the title was lost.

If you have any questions about specifics for the application, call the County Clerk of Courts Title Office.

Read also: Can You Trade an RV For A Boat? (Sailboat and Pontoon Boat)

How to Get a Title for a Boat that Did Not Require One

Sometimes laws change and boats that were sold without titles now require titles. In Ohio, this is the case for boats constructed before 1963. It is also the case for boats under 14 feet in length that have a motor capable of 10 or more horsepower.

If you are in this situation, you can go to the County Clerk of Courts Title Office and fill out a title application. You will need the HIN number to help prove your ownership of the boat.

How Much Does it Cost to Apply for a Title for a Boat in Ohio?

In general, it costs 15 dollars to apply for a boat title in Ohio. This applies to certificates of titles, duplicate certificates of titles, and replacement certificates of titles.

If an out-of-state inspection is needed, you will be charged an additional $6.50.

If you are seeking a salvage title, that will cost $5.00, and an inspection is required to make sure the boat is safe.

How to Transfer a Boat Title in Ohio

If you are purchasing or selling a boat by yourself, without a title agency, you will need to transfer the title from the previous owner to the new owner.

The back of the title should have a section for transfers. The seller needs to fill out this section of the title and have it notarized.

Once it is notarized, take the title to the title office to formally complete the title transfer. To make sure the process is finished, you should also take the title to a boat registration agency and ensure that the registration for the boat is placed under the new owner’s name.

If the boat does not need a title, you will simply need to work with a boat registration agent to transfer the registration to the new owner.

What is the Difference Between Titling a Boat and Registering a Boat?

The title of a boat is necessary for the legal sale and ownership of a boat. It does not, however, make it legal to pilot the boat in the water. In order to do that, you will need to register the boat with the state of Ohio. This process will need to be renewed periodically.

The title of a boat is meant to last for the lifetime of the boat. Unless it is lost, destroyed, or stolen, the title does not need to be renewed or replaced.

Registration does not last for the lifetime of the boat. It needs to be renewed to ensure the boat can legally enter the water.

How Often Do You Need to Re-Register a Boat in Ohio?

You need to renew your boat’s registration every three years in Ohio. This renewal needs to happen before March 1st, as that is the set expiration date for registration.

If you have already registered your boat within Ohio, you can complete the renewal process online. 

Which Boats in Ohio Need Trailers?

Most boats in Ohio need trailers. According to Ohio state law, it is illegal to sell or buy a boat that does not have a title. This includes all boats:

  • With an outboard motor capable of 10 or more horsepower
  • Jet skis
  • Longer than 14 feet

Boats under 14 feet in length (like many kayaks and canoes) do not need titles or to be registered. Keep in mind, though, that if you tow many on a trailer, the trailer will need to be registered.

There are some notable exceptions to these rules. A boat will not need a title if it:

  • Is documented by the US Coast Guard (usually those boats are over 25 feet long)
  • Is a canoe or kayak
  • If it is less than 14 feet in length and has no motor powering it
  • If it is the lifeboat for a larger ship
  • If it is owned by a government agency

Read also: How To Get a Title For a Camper Without Title In Ohio (Updated)


Mike Gilmour

Hi, I'm Mike, co-founder, and editor of RV and Playa. My passion is traveling (with my RV) and enjoying the day at the beach (Playa)! Well, I originally created this blog as a way to share what I've learned by experimenting with the RV lifestyle, and I want to help others develop in life through new skills and opportunities.

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