A Title is a legal document establishing a person or business as the legal owner of a vehicle or vessel. When a vehicle or vessel is sold from one Kentucky resident or business to another in Kentucky, the title must be transferred to the new owner within 15 days. In the case of Boats, all parts of the boat (e.g., body, motor, etc.) are, together, one titled vessel.

Eligible Vehicles

According to KRS 235.040, every motorboat on the waters of this state shall be numbered and currently registered per the provisions of this chapter. No person shall operate or permit the operation of any motorboat on such waters unless the motorboat is registered and numbered per this chapter, or per a federally approved numbering system of another state, and unless:
  • The certificate of number awarded to such motorboat is in full force and effect; and
  • The identifying number outlined in the certificate of number is displayed on each side of the bow of such motorboat.

Applying for Titles

no-liquid-paper.png Warning: Do not use liquid paper/wite-out on your title. Do not scratch through or mark out information on the title. Do not erase or mutilate. Provide an affidavit with new information signed and notarized.​

Applying for a Title for the First Time

  • Photo ID
  • Completed Motor Boat Transaction Record Application for Title/Registration TC96-184 signed-over Kentucky title. If a bill of sale or affidavit of ownership is used, a pencil tracing or picture of the hull number must be provided.
  • If your name is different on the title than the one on your ID, you must provide an affidavit showing they are the same. A marriage license will meet this requirement.
  • Photo ID
  • Completed TC96-184 signed-over title. If your state only issues registration or bill of sale, bring registration in place of signed over title. If you purchased a boat out-of-state and they only issued a bill of sale, a letter from the originating state stating the boat is not registered or titled in the state is required.​
  • If your name on the title is different than the one on your ID, you must provide an affidavit showing they are the same. A marriage license will do.
  • If you live out-of-state, you must title and register your boat in the Kentucky county where it is docked.
Documented Boats:
Due to state exemptions, Kentucky does not title or register documented boats. If you choose to, you will need to provide the following:
  • Certificate of documentation
  • Release Letter from the U.S. Coastguard. For more information, visit the U.S. National Vessel Documentation Center.
  • Photo ID
  • Completed TC96-184 and signed over title. If your state requires titling documented boats, you will need a title.
  • If you live out-of-state, you must title and register your boat in the Kentucky county where it is docked.
Note: If you have moved out of state, you must contact your county clerk and provide your new, out-of-state address in addition to providing your out-of-state address on form TC96-184 if the boat is going to be docked in Kentucky.

Replacement / Duplicate Kentucky Titles

To get a Replacement Title, you will need the following:

  • Form TC96-184 properly completed, including the owner section and the motorboat identification section.
  • Title number OR KY Number
  • $6.00 (US) plus the cost of a notary (free at One Stop Shop)
  • Picture ID or driver's license

Application Types

Speed Titles

Speed Titles are not available for Boat Titling.

Special Titles

Homemade Boats

Homemade boats must go through the Rebuilt Titling process.

Bonded Titles

Kentucky does not issue Bonded Titles.


Kentucky Citizen to Kentucky Citizen

In the sale of a vehicle, the seller must sign the back of the Title, signing over the vehicle, in the presence of a notary. The buyer takes the assigned Title, proof of Identification, and money for fees and applicable taxes to their local County Clerk for transfer.

Selling a Boat to an Out-of-State Resident

You will need to notify your county clerk with the name and state of the new owner. If you were a resident of Kentucky and the boat owner on January 1st, you might have property taxes due on that vehicle. Complete TC96-3 Affidavit of Incomplete Transfer​ to suspend boat title/registration.

Police Impound

See form TC96-331P


Lienholders must follow the transfer process and present a Supporting Repossession and Disposition of a Vehicle TC96-192​, Motor Boat Transaction Record Application for Title/Registration TC96-184​, and security (lien) agreement, signed by the vehicle owner and lien holder. Contact your county clerk.

Towing and Storage

See form TC96-159​
To tow or store vehicles, the tow company must apply for the title, attempt to notify the current owner via certified mail, and run 3+ ads in the newspaper, including the company and current owner's information, complete T96-182. See form TC96-159T​

Mechanics Lien

See form TC96-159M​ or KRS 376.280.

Updating or Correcting Errors

HIN Corrections

Due to the various issues resulting in a HIN mismatch, contact your County Clerk for guidance/explanation. Updates will require the original title, completed Application for Kentucky Certificate of Title or Registration (TC-96-184​), pencil tracing or photo of hull number, a photo ID, and an Application for Vehicle or Hull Identification Number (TC-96-169​).

Misspelled Names

A photo ID, along with the Title, must be presented to the county clerk in the owner's county of residence to update a misspelled name.

Updating Addresses

To update an address, a photo ID or piece of physical mail (with current postmark) must be presented, along with the Title, to the county clerk in the owner's county of residence.


To update a make/model/color/year/etc., photo ID, along with Title, must be presented to the county clerk in the owner's county of residence. Speak with County Clerk for special guidance.

Update/Removal of And/or Conjunction

To remove a co-owner from a Title, both parties must sign the back of the existing Title. If one party is unavailable, a Power of Attorney form signed (and notarized) by the absent party is acceptable. Updates/Removals are processed by the county clerk in the owner's county of residence.

Failure to Receive Your Title

If you have not received your Title within 45 days of application, contact your County Clerk's office.

HIN Validation and Verification Guidelines

As of January 1, 2017:

Federal law 33 CFR § 174.16 (b) dictates that all boat Hull Identification Numbers (HIN) are valid/formatted correctly and can be verified at the time of renewal registration. For all 1972 or newer manufactured vessels without a HIN or with an incorrectly formatted HIN, it will be necessary for your boat to be in compliance before the 2018 renewal period.

Are you in compliance?

Identify your HIN
To find out if your boat’s HIN is recorded in Kentucky’s database, please examine your registration certificate/receipt issued to you at the time of your last renewal. If there is no HIN printed on the renewal receipt, you must physically look on your boat to find the HIN.

Find Your HIN
Verify HIN Formatting
Once you have physically located your HIN, you must ensure that it is correctly formatted. A valid HIN must contain 12 characters uninterrupted by slashes, hyphens, or spaces. You can use our HIN Validation Tool to verify the formatting of your HIN is valid.

Examples of a valid HIN format:
  • SER25A67H809 (like illustrated on HIN site)
  • SB2X3461H595
  • YAM43789C010

HINs beginning with KYZ are Kentucky-issued HINs and are also valid.
  • KYZ12345
  • KYZ67890

The Model/Year format is acceptable with additional characters within 2 inches when separated by a border or separate label.
  • BAY68240M83E   2987
  • BAY68240M83E 2987
Warning: If you do not have a valid HIN on your boat, like what is described above, you must apply for a state-issued HIN.​
HIN Validation and Verification Walkthrough
Hull Indentification

My Boat is missing a HIN.

All boats registered in Kentucky must have a HIN recorded in the state’s title and registration database. Even though this is law, some records currently do not have a HIN recorded. If your boat does not currently have a valid HIN, you must apply for a Hull Identification Number.​

Applying for a Kentucky issued HIN

If you have determined that your HIN is missing or does not meet the format requirements, you must apply for a Kentucky-issued hull identification number. All Kentucky-issued HINs begin with the letters KYZ, followed by nine additional letters and numbers. HINs issued by Kentucky comply with federal law, 33 CFR § 174.16 (b.

Call Before You Haul
To prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species, the Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Western Regional Panel on Aquatic Nuisance Species, and others are making information available to boat haulers, auctioneers, marinas, manufacturers, and brokers to make it easy to comply with state, provincial and federal laws, prevent costly delays in transporting or selling boats, and help reduce the spread of aquatic invasive species. 

Call Before You Haul is intended to prevent unnecessary delays for boat transporters and to help ensure boat transport companies will not be violating state, or federal, laws pertaining to unlawful transport of aquatic invasive species (e.g. quagga or zebra mussels). All Pacific Northwest states have regulations that make it illegal to transport aquatic invasive species (dead or alive) within their respective states, including penalties up to, and including a no bond felony. By calling the toll-free number, 1-844-311-4873, prior to hauling, and providing some basic information about the watercraft being transported, the destination state representative will reach out to boat transporters directly and provide them with information to facilitate and expedite inspection of the watercraft, and if needed, decontamination. Locate more information here.

Common Tax Questions

Yes, boats are assessed and taxed in a manner similar to vehicles, except boat taxes are due by April 30th.
The boat, motor, and trailer values may be assessed as a unit or separately.
The tax rates are based on the location of the boat, so if the boat stays at a marina then the boat is subject to all property tax rates levied at that location.
The County Clerk in your county has the responsibility of collecting ad​ valorem taxes on motor vehicles and boats, and maintaining current addresses.
No, only vehicles which have been plated for use on the highway pay usage tax so only those vehicles qualify for trade credit. Any tax charged on trailers, boats, farm equipment, ATVs etc. would not be usage tax. The tax collected on those items would have been Sales/Use Tax.