Used boats generally have some form of ownership history, be it how the boat was initially financed or whether there are any outstanding claims against it. If a boat has an outstanding claim, meaning that a creditor has not been paid either for the boat or for some other debt for which the boat was offered as collateral, the title to the boat is not clear and you may find yourself in an unwanted legal dispute over the boat. Check for liens on any boat you plan to purchase; make sure the title is clear prior to the purchase.
1. Log on to the Internet and visit Nasbla.org. This website allows you to find the boating law administrator in your state; this administration will keep track of liens on the boat you want to purchase. Click on the "People" tab at the top of the page and choose "State Boating Contacts."
2. Use the drop-down menu and select the state where you are purchasing the boat. Click on the "Submit" button. A new page will open displaying the boating agencies in your state.
3. Locate the agency called "Titling & Registration" or something similar to that. Contact that agency and inform a representative that you are searching for any liens on the boat you are thinking about buying. Relay the boat's registration numbers to the clerk.
4. Use an Internet title-search service, such as BoatHistoryReport.com. This method is an alternative to the above, and a way to cover your bases. One option, Marineliens.com, allows you to search for liens. If a lien is found, you must pay to view it; if no lien is found, and if the titling agency informed you that no lien was on the boat, there are no liens on the boat.
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