Buying a Boat in New Mexico (Being an Aware Buyer)

1. Check for manufacturer’s recalls. Have a used boat surveyed (done by a marine surveyor who does professional inspections) both in and out of the water. Be aware that the insurance industry sometimes sets up special websites after major natural disasters. If you have a hull or vessel identification number you should check these sites.

2.  Do not buy a boat that is registered as “homemade” but is obviously a manufactured model.   Be suspicious of any hull identification number that begins with NMZ (which signifies a homemade boat) when the name of the manufacturer and/or model is on the boat. You may be purchasing a stolen boat.

3. Do not buy a boat if the hull identification number (HIN) has been altered or removed.

4. Do not buy a boat with an inboard or outboard motor(s) that does not match model and serial numbers on the title and bill of sale.

5. Do not buy if motor model and serial number plates have been removed or if the horsepower is in excess of the maximum listed on the boat Capacity Plate.

6. Do not buy if the Capacity Plate “number of persons” is less than what you will typically be taking on board.

7.  Don’t purchase a bargain with a questionable past. Before buying a used boat, have the seller can provide you with the current registration. Ask to see the original bill of sale and title. Compare the registration information against the actual boat; if the hull I.D. and description don’t match, leave it. Failure to obtain all necessary paperwork may result in not being able to register the purchase.

8. A new boat from a dealer or manufacturer should come with the Manufacturer’s Statement of Origin (MSO) which serves like a title except that it comes from the original manufacturer.  You will not get this if the dealer is completing the titling and registration for you. It is a good idea however, that as a condition of sale that a copy of the original be provided by the dealer to you for your records in case MVD ever loses the records. 

9. Your boat bill of sale (a trailer should come with a separate title and bill of sale) should include: Complete names and addresses of buyer and seller, boat and engine description on the bill of sale including make, model, year, length and hull identification number (HIN) and engine serial number(s), a complete equipment list (radios, safety equipment, etc.), the purchase price with deposits and how the balance will be paid, a firm delivery and title transfer date, the condition at time of delivery, and a full description of any warranty. Note any buyer contingencies such as a satisfactory inspection and water test and/or getting acceptable financing and insurance. Include a statement by the seller that the boat is free of any liens or encumbrances, and that the seller assumes all responsibility for any debts incurred during his/her ownership. (If the boat was “documented” it should come with a U.S. Coast Guard Bill of Sale CG-1340).

10.  If you suspect the sale of a stolen boat, immediately contact your local law enforcement authorities. Try to note as much information about the boat and seller as possible. Cooperation with local law enforcement helps improve vessel security in our state.

11.  Once purchased, record all serial and identification numbers and keep a set at home. Hide a second set of numbers somewhere on the boat and in your towing vehicle so you can prove ownership if the thief removes the original set. Don’t leave your title papers on the boat. Take photos of the boat from several angles. If it is stolen, give law enforcement a full description (including ID numbers) immediately. Protect yourself financially with a boat owner’s insurance policy (discounted insurance is usually available for those taking a boating basics course). Mark deck chairs, flotation gear, windbreakers and loose items with the boat registration number and your name. This will make them easier to recover.

12.  Inscribe electronic instruments, communication gear, and other valuables with your driver’s license number and state, and record serial and model numbers. This allows instant identification by law enforcement computer networks. Display an "Operation Identificatio" sticker to show you’re serious about crime prevention.

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