A title establishes ownership of an item. Titles are filed electronically in Ohio through the Clerk of Courts. It doesn't matter what county you live in — as the owner you can file a title or obtain a paper copy of any Ohio title at any title office in any county. You can also lookup titles online through Ohio BMV.
If you are buying a boat that has a title, the title must be transferred to you before you can register the boat in your name.
If you are selling boat that is titled, you need to transfer the title to the new owner before they can registration it in their name.
The title on a boat must be an Ohio title in order to get an Ohio registration.
Boats and Motors That Need a Title
No person is permitted to sell, purchase or otherwise acquire any of the following in Ohio without an Ohio certificate of title:
- an outboard motor of 10 horsepower or greater;
- a watercraft 14 feet or greater in length;
- a watercraft less than 14 feet in length with a permanently affixed mechanical means of propulsion of 10 horsepower or greater*
*The law refers specifically to PWCs (SeaDoo, JetSki, etc.) here. PWCs need to be titled. If you bought one before 2000 and it doesn't have a title, you need to title it before you sell it.
Exempt from the Titling Requirement
These do NOT need a title:
- vessels documented by the US Coast Guard (these are vessels over 5 tons; usually boats that are 25-feet or larger)
- canoes and kayaks
- watercraft less than 14 feet in length without a permanently affixed mechanical means of propulsion
- watercraft less than 14 feet in length with a permanently affixed mechanical means of propulsion of less than 10 horsepower
- ship's lifeboat
- boats owned by government agencies
- motors less than 10 horsepower
Transfer the Title to Show Change in Ownership
If a titled boat is sold by an individual, the seller must complete the transfer section on the back of the title in the presence of a notary public before presenting it to the buyer. The buyer must take the title to a title office to complete the ownership transfer, and then to a boat registration agent to transfer the boat registration into the buyer's name.
Some vessels and motors that now need a title may not have needed a title when they were originally purchased. Before selling these items, the owner must apply to an Ohio title office and obtain a title:
- boats or outboard motors acquired on or before October 9, 1963
- watercraft less than 14 feet long with a permanently affixed mechanical means of propulsion of 10 horsepower or greater and purchased on or before January 1, 2000 (PWCs such at JetSki, Waverunner, etc.)