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What you should know before you buy

Before you buy

Owning a boat provides a great opportunity for you to explore the Wisconsin outdoors.

Buying a new boat from a dealer

When a boat dealer sells a new boat, the dealer will provide the buyer with the Manufacturer’s Certificate or Statement of Origin (MSO). The Manufacturer’s Statement of Origin is the official document of ownership the boat manufacturer sends to the vehicle dealer that will ultimately become the owner’s boat title once sold by the dealer. The MSO is required to be turned in to the department when the boat is registered for the first time. Upon receipt of a completed boat registration application the Department will issue a certificate of title to all vessels 16 feet in length or larger. The certificate of title will be mailed to the primary owner listed on the title document.

Some dealers may offer to submit the registration application on behalf their customer for a fee. The buyer also has the option to apply for registration on their own by visiting GoWILD, visiting a DNR service center, or mailing in a complete Boat Registration and Titling Application (Form 9400-193) or a Fleet Boat Registration and Titling application (Form 9400-624), along with required documents and fees. Dealers who complete the registration application on the customer’s behalf are required to mail completed applications to the Department for processing within 7 days of the boat sale.


Buying a used boat less than 16 feet in length

All motorized boats, and sailboats over 12 feet in length, are required to be registered in Wisconsin. See General Information on Boat Registration for more information.

To register your boat, you will need to provide the information from previous owners certificate of registration (wallet-sized card) in addition to your application and fees. Verify the hull I.D. number listed on the certificate of origin matches the hull I.D. number on the boat.

Buying a used boat 16 feet in length or greater

Applications to register boats 16 feet in length or greater, require additional titling documentation. See required documents for registration and titling for more information.

Buyer’s checklist

Print and read the buyer’s checklist for boat sales before buying a used boat. The checklist will help you identify all the required supporting documents need to successfully register a boat with the Department of Natural Resources.

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