Transferring ownership – who’s responsible?

Story by Harris & Ellis / July 3, 2023

Author: John Heintzman, Yacht Broker Harris & Ellis Yachts

Congratulations! You have closed on the purchase of your new boat. All closing documents have been signed, and the funds have been transferred as part of the sales agreement. Now is the time to put the boat officially in your name.

The buyer is responsible for transferring ownership; at Harris & Ellis Yachts, we are happy to answer any questions and can assist you with the process. As part of the purchase, your contract should state that the seller will deliver a clean title, and that the boat is free and clear of any liens or encumbrance.

If you purchased a Canadian vessel, you have two options on how it is titled: licensed or registered. Both options go through Transport Canada, but they are quite different.

Most pleasure boats are licensed. Newer boats will have the license number readily displayed on both sides of the bow. These boats can be easily transferred by the buyer online with a copy of the Bill of Sale, a side view photo of the vessel, and a scanned copy of government-issued ID for you, as the new owner, and any co-owners.

A registered boat does not have a license number on the bow. It is federally titled with Transport Canada and contains the registered name, tonnage, and registry number. At closing, the seller should provide a signed Form-6 Transport Canada Bill of Sale, and your broker will help you complete a Form-3 Statement of Qualification for Vessel Registration, and a Form-14 Appointment of Authorized Representation if there are multiple owners. As with the licensed vessel, the transfer of ownership can be done online with Transport Canada.

If you plan on using your new vessel in international waters, you may choose to register your boat following the transfer. You may also choose registration if you require a marine mortgage. A licensed vessel is sufficient title for a vessel used in Canadian waters.



Thank you for all your work in facilitating the sale of our dad's boat. Jake and I really appreciate all the hard work you put into it with the many visits, paperwork, etc. A special mention has to go out to Grant for teaching me how to fold the sails!

As first-time boat buyers and as foreigners wanting to buy a cruising catamaran in the US, we knew we needed a reliable broker that had our best interests in mind. John Heintzman was just that, and more! He was extremely committed to understanding what we were looking for, gave great advice, and guided us through the purchase process with great patience and knowledge. All in all, we felt very well taken care of.

I feel compelled to reach out about the absolutely wonderful experience that I have had with Grant and Patricia Bowlby. I completed the purchase of a boat yesterday and I couldn’t be happier. They were so helpful, kind, and patient. This was my first experience with a broker, and I think I’ve found the best.

I can’t thank Ewan Campbell enough for the super job he did in selling G, making up for my lack of experience in this realm and patiently searching for just the right buyer and a win-win for seller and buyer alike.

It was a wonderful experience selling A with Jeff Cole’s expert assistance. Thank you for simplifying a complicated process. Your patience and kindness are especially appreciated.

I just wanted to thank Jeff Cole for all his hard work. He was very professional and effective.

Our Latest from Instagram