Boat buying process

5 posts / 0 new
Last post
Boat buying process

Hi All
Looking to pick brains again
We've agreed a price for a 26X (but we've never bought a boat before)

So what paperwork do we need to see/produce
Is VAT an issue (it's a private sale)
Do we need to register the boat/change of ownership

ps we will never take the boat out of the UK which I assume simplifies things

Thank in advance

Stephen and Julia

Macgregor 26x (2003)

Hi both.

Hi both.

Assuming you have had a survey done the most important thing is to check legal ownership so look for bills of sale/invoices etc . If this is an old boat with many previous owners the detail might not be complete but get as much as possible; also check bills about moorings and repairs as these will provide additional evidence.

Check with the Small Ships Register, your boat should be registered; if not register it yourself or re-register in your names.

If the sail has a number you can check this out and re-register the number as yours.

VAT is not important for you at the minute but evidence does help. Roly has posted a solution on this site.

Good Luck and enjoy her

Simon Armitage

Sowenna 26m

rick.jones's picture
Well done on finding a boat!

Well done on finding a boat!

There's no official register of boats (unlike vehicles), so there's no mandatory requirement for any paperwork. But as with any other major purchase, it's best to at least get some kind of written receipt from the seller.

There's no VAT involved, but there can be an issue if you take the boat abroad without proof that VAT was paid (though you say you'll never do that). I've never heard of anyone being challenged to produce a VAT invoice, and I strongly suspect that the authorities are only interested in new, high-value boats, where deliberate VAT evasion would be highly profitable.

Boats can be voluntarily registered on the SSR (Small Ships Register), and you should check this with the seller. If it is, you'll need to update the ownership details on the SSR. I think it can be done online but I don't know the details, I've never registered a boat myself.

If it has a fixed VHF radio with DSC, then that will be registered with Ofcom, who issue an MMSI number that's programmed into the radio. Again, it's just a question of updating Ofcom with the new owner details.

Just make sure the seller gives you all the existing paperwork, whatever that is.

I hope you enjoy your purchase!

Also, please add the boat details to your account on the web site (see this page for instructions).

Rick Jones (Treasurer) 1994 Mac 19 "White Lightning", Isle of Wight

chris.hawksworth's picture
I used the RYA's Bill of sale

I used the RYA's Bill of sale template when I bought mine so at least I had some form of proof of transfer from the previous owner. It can be found here:

They also have a more elaborate form "AGREEMENT FOR THE SALE AND PURCHASE OF A SECOND-HAND BOAT" which I didn't bother with but may be of use.


'89 Macgregor 26D: Getaway

The last three boats that I

The last three boats that I have purchased have all come with a bill of sale using the proforma supplied by "Maritime and Coastguard Agency" I have used the same form when I have sold a boat. Just google MCA bill of sale and you should get form MSF 4705. It is only two sides and should help reregister the boat if on the small ships register.