Boat registration numbers come at two levels, state and federal. Smaller recreational and commercial vessels use state registration. Owning and operating recreational and commercial vessels with larger carrying capacities require federal documentation. If you need to find a boat’s owner or verify whether or not there is a lien holder, research registration and documentation numbers at the state and federal levels to discover the vessel’s chain of ownership and any lien information.
Locate the registration or documentation number on the exterior of the boat. State registration numbers are commonly displayed on both sides of the bow (front) with 4-inch painted numbers or stickers. Federal numbers are displayed anywhere on the boat’s exterior that is visible from the water.