How to Register Jon Boat with No Title – Not as Hard as You May Think!

How to Register Jon Boat with No Title

So, you’ve finally found the perfect Jon boat, and you’re in love with it already since it looks pretty clean. 

The boat is well-maintained, and the overall size is just what you’ve been searching for. 

And the fascinating part of the deal is that the Jon boat is incredibly inexpensive. Unfortunately, there is a fly in the ointment – the boat has no title. 

For this reason, you start wondering whether this deal is actually as brilliant as it seems. How do you register a Jon boat without a title?

Well, the process of registering your Jon boat with no title may be easier or complicated, depending on the state you live in or intend to use the vessel. 

In some states, Jon boats built before certain dates or under a particular propulsion threshold or even size need a title for registration. 

However, this may apply in some states. So, you’ll have to call the department in your state to comprehend the exact requirements. 

In this article, we’ll talk about how to register a Jon boat with no title and who you can contact in your state to get the specific requirements. 

But before we get into the guide, I’d like to give you a quick caution. 

If you want to buy a second-hand Jon boat, you should be extra careful, especially when you get deals involving untitled boats or ones without HIN or VIN.

Otherwise, you might end up in a costly mess that you may never be able to resolve. But this is not to scare you. 

It’s still possible to register a boat with no title. If you want to buy a boat for the first time, you might also be wondering why the title and registration matter anyway. 

Boat Registration

Boat Registration

Boat registration is whereby you prove to the state that you are the owner or have lawful use of a particular vessel. 

This process requires you to pay some fees and provide some ownership supporting documents to keep the boat legal. 

It’s also a great way to contribute to protecting and caring for the state’s natural resources. 

Once you pay the necessary fees, the state will give you a registration number and validation decal for your Jon boat. 

You are required to display the registration number and validation decal on the boat whenever in use, just as you’d do with your vehicle. 

No boat operation should happen with unregistered motorized vessels, even when cruising on private lakes. 

These numbers are recognized in different states, which allows you to travel with your vessel and use it for a short time in another area. 

Registration requirements for motorized boats differ from one state to another. For example, all watercrafts exceeding 14 feet in length must be registered in Texas and South Carolina. 

Some states require registration of all motorboats, including vessels propelled by electric motors and trolling motors.

In Mississippi, registration is vital for all motorized vessels regardless of their length. So, you want to be sure of the definite requirements in your own state. 

In general, non motorized vessels don’t require registration. 

Boat Title

Boat Title

This is simply a document declaring that you are the legal owner of a specific boat. Just like vehicles, again, the boat title is given by a state agency to you or a lien holder. 

However, the operations concerning the titling of Jon boats are quite different in various states.

In states like Maryland, Alabama, and Illinois, these operations happen in the Department of Natural Resources. 

In other states like California, New York, Alaska, Connecticut, and New Hampshire, the Department of Motor Vehicles takes charge. 

What is a HIN on a Jon Boat?

What is a HIN on a Jon Boat

A HIN on a Jon boat refers to the Hull Identification Number, which is usually stamped on the upper right areas of the transom. 

All documented vessels are given the HIN number as a display of various details like the manufacturer, serial number or the boat, and manufacture date. 

This number makes it much easier to get a replacement title, replacement decals, and the registration certificate or card.

That said, here are some great tips I compiled after researching several cases to help you with the registration process. 

Tips on How to Register a Joan Boat with no Title

Tips on How to Register a Joan Boat with no Title

Contact Your Local Tax Office

If you want to register your boat with no title, you may want to talk to your hometown tax agency and see how they can help. 

You can tell them all the information you know about your newly possessed Jon boat, including where you got it from, the length, serial number and other specifications. 

It’s also important to be open about why the boat doesn’t have a title, which could be that it never had one, the seller lost it, or maybe a lien holder hasn’t released it yet. 

Registering a Jon boat without a title can be quite a difficult task, and you’ll be lucky to have the agent walking you through the entire process. 

Get in Touch with the Department of Motor Vehicles in Your Area

If you can find the HIN, it could be wise to take it to your local department of motor vehicles. 

The DMV can probe their database of records and determine whether there are any details available concerning the boat’s history. 

They will then contact the last registered title holder and let them know that the boat need registration under the new ownership. 

However, not all the times are the local DMV able to track down the boat’s history or last registered owner. If they can’t find any helpful information, they’ll tell you what to do. 

Things get a little tangled if you have a stolen boat unknowingly. See, the DMV will notify the owner that you now possess the boat. 

Then the owner will retrieve their boat, and you’ll have to ask for a refund from the one who sold the boat to you.

Another challenge you might experience when tracking the history of a used Jon boat is that it may have several previous owners and some of them may not have registered it. 

But hopefully, your local DMV will guide you on what to do when it reaches this point. 

Ask for a Bill of Sale from the Previous Registered Owner

If you are buying a used Jon, it’s always crucial to ask for the bill of sale as the document is legally recognized as well. Don’t simply take the boat and leave the market. 

The bill of sale is legally recognized since both the seller and the buyer have to sign it. This document might make it a bit easier for you to register your Jon boat. 

Having an unregistered Jon boat with no HIN and the bill of sale might lead you to serious problems.  

How to Register a Boat with no Title in Arkansas

How to Register a Boat with no Title in Arkansas

This is one of the states where I found out that it’s quite tricky to register your boat without a title. The registration process is a little bit complex as you’ll need the following things:

  • A bill of sale 
  • Personal property tax assessment 
  • Insurance proof
  • Payment proof for personal property taxes 

These requirements are for motorized vessels since Arkansas doesn’t require titling or registration for unpowered boats and non motorized canoes.  

The process may seem nearly the same in the state you live in, but it seems more complicated when compared to other states like Florida and North Carolina. 

If the Jon boat you want to buy has a title, you can turn it over to find the bill of sale that will prove ownership. It has entry marks for the previous owner to grant ownership to you. 

This will prove that you haven’t stolen the boat and show how much you bought it for on which day. 

If the used Jon boat lacks a title or the owner misplaced it, you need to look for another version of the bill of sale and have them sign that they have sold the boat to you. 

Don’t forget to include the price, date, and the signature of the person selling the old Jon boat. 

It’s also important to include the trailer (if the boat has one) on the bill of sale for tax purposes. Remember, all boat trailers need registration in Arkansas. 

You can also have a different bill of sale for the trailer if you don’t want to include it on the main one. 

With this type of evidence, the Department of Motor Vehicles will help you acquire a new title and allow you to register your Jon boat. 

The cost of registering a Jon boat in Arkansas will depend on the size of your boat. Here are the fees for various motorboat sizes:

  • Motorized vessels less than 16 feet long $7.50
  • Motorized vessels 16 feet to 25 feet long $15
  • Motorized vessels 26 feet to 39 feet long $51
  • Motorized vessels 40 feet and above $105 

The motorboat registrations will remain valid for three years. If you have the required documents, you can complete the entire process online.

Do I Need to Register an Outboard Motor in Arkansas?

Do I Need to Register an Outboard Motor in Arkansas

No, you don’t need to register an outboard motor in Arkansas. This state doesn’t issue titles or registrations for outboard motors. 

However, if your Jon boat has outboard motors, you can write their serial numbers on the boat registration documents. 

How to Register a Boat without Title in Indiana

How to Register a Boat without Title in Indiana

Boat registration requirements are a bit different in Indiana, and it might actually be one of the easiest states to have your vessel registered. 

The state demands registration of all motorized vessels. However, non motorized boats do not need registration. 

If you want to register your Jon boat with no title, you’ll need to prove that you own the boat, probably with a bill of sale or any other document they ask you to provide. 

Once the registration is complete, the Indiana BMV will send a registration certificate, registration number, and registration decals to your mailing address.  

The state requires you to have the registration certificate accessible for inspection whenever the boat operates. 

You must also display the registration number on your boat or paint it, ensuring that it’s clearly visible and legible. 

Here are the registration charges for all motorized boats in Indiana based on the watercraft length: 

  • 0 to 12 inches long motorized vessels $15
  • 13 to 25 inches long motorized vessels $18
  • 26 to 39 inches long motorized vessels $21
  • 40 inches long motorized vessels and above $24 

Registration fees based on price or excise class: 

  • $0 to $999 for class 1 and 2 boats $5 
  • $1000 to $2999 for class 3 to 5 boats $10
  • $3000 to $4999 for class 6 boats $15
  • $5000 to $9999 for class 7 to 8 boats $20
  • $10000 plus for class 9 to 14 boats $25

Now, when registering a Jon boat for the first time in Indiana, you’ll need to pay a specific vessel registration fee. This fee is chargeable once or each time the boat ownership changes. 

So, the amount payable for your newly acquired Jon boat will be the sum of length fee, excise class fee, and the boat registration fee required for first-time registration. 

How Do I Register a Boat with no Title in Canada?

How Do I Register a Boat with no Title in Canada

If you want to buy a Jon boat and you live in Canada, you might also be wondering whether it’s possible to register the vessel without a title. 

All motorized vessels with 10 horsepower or more need registration to legally operate in Canada. This includes any powered boat, even if it’s a personal watercraft operating on private waters. 

Non motorized vessels and any boat with a less than 10 horsepower motor don’t require registration or licensing. 

Boat owners need to choose between two methods for legal boat operation in Canada, including licensing or registration. The latter is crucial for all vessels that require a marine mortgage and those traveling out of the country. 

To register your boat, you need to provide a title and bill of sale as the evidence proving that you are the legal owner of the boat. 

If the boat doesn’t have a title, you can submit the license numbers, which are usually found on the side of the boat. 

Sometimes the numbers may be unclear or even rubbed, especially for old boats probably inherited from a parent or a friend decades ago. 

In such cases, it may be a bit challenging to register the boat. The best thing to do is call the Vessel Registration Office or send a mail to see how they will help. 

But if you want to buy a used Jon boat, I’d recommend that you ask the previous owners to register the boat first in their name before you become the new owner. 

If they are willing to do so, it will save you from a lot of trouble registering the boat as your vessel or applying for the Pleasure Craft License.

Keep in mind that you could be fined up to $250 for boating with an unregistered or licensed vessel in Canada since you don’t have the legal authority to do so. 

When it comes to licensing your newly acquired boat, you need to prove ownership, provide a photo of the boat, a filled-out application, and a photocopy of your government-issued identification. 

You can apply for the Pleasure Craft License online or by mail, provided you have the required documents. 

The best thing about licensing a boat in Canada is that there is no charge. All you have to do is update the license after 10 years. 



Q: Do You Need a Title for a Jon Boat?

A: Yes, you need a title for a Jon boat. If your Jon boat isn’t registered, you need to get a replacement title to be able to register it. 

However, this may be a little different, depending on where you live or intend to do your boating and the size of your Jon boat. 

There is usually an exemption of non motorized vessels as most states require titling and registration for powered Jon boats, including those featuring a trolling motor.

And while it’s optional to register an outboard motor, states like South Carolina and Texas require registration for any outboard motor featured in a motorboat. 

If your Jon boat is powered by oars or paddles, you do not need a title or registration to legally participate in boating activities.

You don’t need a title to register your Jon boat in Wisconsin, provided it’s under 16 feet long. You’ll only give a registration card, and voila! You have a registered Jon boat!

Other states like New Jersey require all motorboats and sailboats exceeding 12 feet in length to be registered with a title. 

Q: How Do I Register My Jon Boat? 

A: To register your Jon boat, you need to get in touch with the specific agency that deals with boat registration and giving titles. 

As mentioned earlier, the agency responsible for boat titles and registrations vary from one state to another. 

It will be the Department of Natural Resources, Wildlife Resources Commission, Department of Motor Vehicle, Department of Finance and Administration, or even Parks and Wildlife like in Colorado. 

The requirements can be different as well. Some states will require titling for particular boats, while others may not. 

In most instances, non motorized boats powered by paddles or oars don’t need registration or titling. The US Coast Guard documented boats do not need registration as well. 

A general rule of thumb is that every motorized boat needs to be registered, and you can easily do it by contacting the agency that deals with boat titling and registration. 

If you live in California, here is what you’ll need to register for a boat: 

  • Completed registration papers or HIN number application form
  • Documents to establish proof of ownership such as bill of sale and builder’s contract
  • Boat title
  • Registration fees

The cost of boat registration in California varies depending on the type of year and whether you are a resident or non-resident. 

For even-numbered years, residents will only pay 37 dollars, while non-residents will pay up to 65 dollars. 

However, the cost increases when applying in an odd-numbered year. The residents are required to pay $65, while non-residents have to pay up to $95 to register their vessels. 

Q: How Do I Register My Jon Boat with no Title in Florida?

A: To register your Jon boat without a title in Florida, you’ll have two main options, including talking to your local tax agency or contacting your local license plate agent office. 

Once you buy your new or second-hand Jon boat, you only have 30 days to register the vessel before it becomes a second-degree crime. 

Now, if the boat doesn’t have a title, you might be worried that things will be a bit complicated. Sure, the registration process won’t continue without the title, but there is no need to worry. 

The first thing you need to do is get in touch with the local tax agency or license plate agent office by calling them or going to the office in person. 

Then give your boat’s information, including the HIN and where you got the Jon boat from. 

You’ll also need to prove that you own the boat by providing an executed bill of sale or any other document they ask for. It could be a company’s statement of origin or even a builder’s contract. 

If you cannot establish proof of ownership, it will be hard to get a title for your boat or even complete the registration in Florida. 

The Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles gives you the option of two years or one-year boat registration. No matter which duration you choose, the registration process remains the same. 

Depending on how long your boat is, the registration fee will range from $5.50 to $189.75. And if you own more than one boat, you’ll receive a reduced fee for each vessel. 

Nonetheless, you may have to pay an optional county fee if you live in the following counties:

  • Palm Beach
  • Dade
  • Broward
  • Collier
  • Pinellas
  • Volusia
  • Polk
  • Monroe
  • Charlotte 
  • Manatee
  • Hillsborough 
  • Sarasota 

If your boat operation in Florida state lines involves non motorized vessels, there is no need for titling or registration. 

Q: How Do I Register a Jon Boat without a Title in NC?

A: First of all, non motorized vessels do not need a title or registration in North Carolina. You also don’t have to register an outboard motor if your vessel has one. 

To register your motorized Jon boat without a title in North Carolina, you’ll need to get in touch with the NC Wildlife Resources Commission. 

There are more than 400 Wildlife Service Agents all over the state, which means that it’s easy to meet one in person and start the registration. 

Alternatively, you can go to the main NC Wildlife Resources Commission office. 

If you don’t want to meet Wildlife Service Agents or go to the main office for the registration, you can submit the necessary details of your Jon boat via mail. 

Whichever method you prefer, you are required to fill out a VL-1 form NC Vessel Registration and Title Application. 

If your boat is from another state, then you’ll have to provide an original title from the state you got it from. 

But since you don’t have the out-of-state title, you’ll need to submit a copy of the registration card and complete the Vessel Title Request Form. 

For non-titled used Jon boats bought from an individual or a dealership, the NC Wildlife Resources Commission will demand proof of ownership. 

Once your boat registration is complete, the NC Wildlife will give you a boat identification number, registration decal, and a card. 

You also need to bear in mind that there is some vessel registration fee, which will depend on the size of your boat. 

For instance, if your boat is less than 26 feet, you need to pay $70 for one-year registration or $130 for three years. 

The boat identification number and the registration documents will be valid for one or three years, depending on what you selected during the application. 

Then you’ll need to renew the registration two months before the current one expires through the mail, online, or in-person. 



Buying a used Jon boat is a great way to get started in boating while still not spending too much on the vessel. 

They are incredibly affordable and easy to maintain. However, some used Jon boats do not have a title, even though it’s a requirement for registration in most states. 

In such cases, it can be a bit challenging to have your Jon boat registered, but this doesn’t mean that it’s impossible. 

You can use the boat’s HIN to get a replacement title and register your boat. But you must establish proof of ownership for the state to approve that it’s not a stolen vessel. 

If you don’t have any of these papers, things might become a little problematic. But you should feel free to contact the department dealing with boat titling and registration to get help. 

In states with strict boating and vessel registration, I wouldn’t invest in a boat without a title or any other relevant papers that can help me obtain one. The entire process could not only be a tiresome hassle but also costly. 

I’d rather buy a simpler vessel model with all the supportive documents required to register a boat.

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Lisa Hayden-Matthews

Lisa Hayden-Matthews

An avid Skier, bike rider, triathlon enthusiast, amateurish beach volleyball player and nature lover who has never lost a dare! I manage the overall Editorial section for the magazine here and occasionally chip in with my own nature photographs, when required.

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