Chapter 3. Transfer Of Title Or Interest In Undocumented Vessel of California Vehicle Code >> Division 3.5. >> Chapter 3.
No transfer of the title or any interest in or to an
undocumented vessel numbered under this code shall pass, and any
attempted transfer shall not be effective, until the parties thereto
have paid any delinquent property taxes with respect to that vessel
and fulfilled either of the following requirements:
(a) The transferor has made proper endorsement and delivery of the
certificate of ownership to the transferee as provided in this code
and the transferee has delivered to the department or has placed the
certificates in the United States mail addressed to the department
when and as required under this code with the proper transfer fee and
thereby makes application for a new certificate of ownership and a
new certificate of number.
(b) The transferor has delivered to the department or has placed
in the United States mail addressed to the department the appropriate
documents for the transfer of ownership of the vessel pursuant to
the sale or transfer except as otherwise provided.
Whenever any person has received as transferee a properly
endorsed certificate of ownership, he or she shall, within 10 days
thereafter, forward the certificates with the transfer fee specified
in Section 9855 to the department, and thereby make application for a
certificate of ownership and certificate of number.
The department, upon receipt of a properly endorsed
certificate of ownership and a new application form and the required
fee, shall issue a new certificate of ownership and a new certificate
of number in the same manner as provided for in the initial issuance
of number and the number may be reassigned to the new owner,
provided, however, in the case of a transfer of a part interest which
does not affect the owner's right to operate such undocumented
vessel the transfer shall not terminate the certificate of number.
(a) Prior to the issuance of any certificate of ownership the
department shall obtain a statement in writing, signed by the
transferee or transferor, showing:
(1) The date of the sale or other transfer of ownership of the
(2) The name and address of the seller or transferor.
(3) The name and address of the buyer or transferee.
(4) The total consideration (valued in money) given for the sale
or other transfer of the vessel, including any motor or other
component part of the vessel included in the sale or other transfer.
(b) Upon the transfer of ownership of a vessel the department
shall forward to the State Board of Equalization information from its
records identifying the vessel together with the data required by
subdivision (a). The information shall be transmitted as promptly as
feasible and in such form and manner as shall be agreed between the
department and the board.
An owner who has made a bona fide sale or transfer of an
undocumented vessel and has delivered possession of the vessel to a
purchaser shall not by reason of any of the provisions of this code
or the Harbors and Navigation Code be deemed the owner of the vessel
so as to be subject to civil liability for the operation of the
vessel thereafter by another when the owner, in addition to the
foregoing, has fulfilled either of the following requirements:
(a) Made proper endorsement and delivery of the certificate of
ownership as provided in this code.
(b) Delivered to the department or placed in the United States
mail, addressed to the department, either the notice as provided in
Sections 9911 and 9912 or appropriate documents for transfer of the
vessel pursuant to the sale or transfer.
A legal owner may assign his title or interest in or to an
undocumented vessel numbered under this code to a person other than
the owner without the consent of and without affecting the interest
of the owner.
Upon transfer of the title or any interest of the legal owner
or legal owners in an undocumented vessel numbered under this code,
the transferor shall write his signature, and the transferee shall
write his signature and address, in the appropriate spaces provided
upon the reverse side of the certificate of ownership issued for the
Upon transfer of the title or interest or any part thereof of
the registered owner only in an undocumented vessel numbered under
this code, the registered owner shall write his signature and address
and the transferee shall write his signature and address in the
appropriate spaces provided on the reverse side of the certificate of
ownership for the vessel, and the legal owner shall write his
signature in the space provided for the new legal owner indicating
that he is to retain his legal title and interest.
When the required certificate of ownership is lost, stolen,
damaged, or mutilated, application for transfer may be made upon a
form provided by the department for a duplicate certificate of
ownership. The transferor shall write his signature and address in
the appropriate spaces provided upon the application and file the
same together with the proper fees for duplicate certificate of
ownership and transfer.
It is unlawful for any person to fail or neglect to deliver
the certificate of number and, when having possession, to properly
endorse, date, and deliver the certificate of ownership to a
transferee who is lawfully entitled to a transfer of ownership.
Whenever the owner of an undocumented vessel numbered under
this code sells or transfers his or her title or interest in, or any
part thereof, and delivers the possession of, the vessel to another,
the owner shall, within five calendar days, notify the department of
the sale or transfer by giving the date thereof, the name and address
of the owner and of the transferee and a description of the vessel
as may be required in the appropriate form provided for the purpose
by the department.
Every dealer upon transferring by sale, lease or otherwise
any undocumented vessel, whether new or used, required to be numbered
under this code, shall, not later than the end of the next business
day of the dealer, give written notice of the transfer to the
department upon an appropriate form provided by it, but a dealer need
not give the notice when selling or transferring a new unnumbered
vessel to another dealer.
When a security interest upon a numbered vessel is satisfied,
canceled, or released by the parties thereto who are the registered
owner and legal owner respectively of said vessel and thereafter
within a period of 10 days a new security interest covering the
vessel is executed between the same parties, no application for
transfer of ownership by reason thereof shall be made, no new
certificate of ownership or certificate of number shall be issued,
and all provisions of this code relating to transfers of any title or
interest in a vessel shall be deemed to have been fully complied
The transferee of a security interest in the interest of a
legal owner of a numbered vessel need not make application for a
transfer of ownership when the security interest arises from a pledge
of security agreement by the legal owner to the pledgee.
(a) Whenever the title or interest of any owner or legal
owner in or to a vessel numbered under this code passes to another
otherwise than by a voluntary transfer, the new owner or legal owner
may obtain a transfer of ownership upon application therefor and upon
presentation of the last certificate of ownership and certificate of
number issued for the vessel, if available, and any instruments or
documents of authority or certified copies thereof as may be required
by the department, or required by law, to evidence or effect a
transfer of title or interest in or to chattels in such case.
(b) The department when satisfied of the genuineness and
regularity of the transfer shall give notice by mail to the owner and
legal owner of the vessel as shown by the records of the department
and five days after the giving of the notice, if still satisfied of
the genuineness and regularity of such transfer, shall transfer the
ownership of the vessel accordingly and issue a new certificate of
ownership and cerificate of number to the person or persons entitled
thereto. Such notice shall not be required for an involuntary
transfer when repossession involves a secured party.
(a) If 40 days have elapsed since the death of an owner or
legal owner of any vessel numbered under this division without the
decedent leaving other property necessitating probate, and
irrespective of the value of the vessel, the following person may
secure a transfer of ownership of the title or interest of the
(1) The sole person or all of the persons who succeeded to the
property of the decedent under Sections 6401 and 6402 of the Probate
Code unless the vessel is, by will, otherwise bequeathed.
(2) The sole beneficiary or all of the beneficiaries who succeeded
to the vessel under the will of the decedent where the vessel is, by
will, so bequeathed.
(b) The person authorized by subdivision (a) may secure a transfer
of ownership of the title or interest of the decedent upon
presenting to the department all of the following:
(1) The appropriate certificate of ownership and certificate of
number, if available.
(2) A certificate of the heir or beneficiary under penalty of
perjury containing the following statements:
(A) The date and place of the decedent's death.
(B) The decedent left no other property necessitating probate and
no probate proceeding is now being or has been conducted in this
state for the decedent's estate.
(C) The declarant is entitled to the vessel either (i) as the sole
person or all of the persons who succeeded to the property of the
decedent under Sections 6401 and 6402 of the Probate Code if the
decedent left no will or (ii) as the beneficiary or beneficiaries
under the decedent's last will if the decedent left a will, and no
one has a right to the decedent's vessel that is superior to that of
(D) There are no unsecured creditors of the decedent or, if there
are, the unsecured creditors of the decedent have been paid in full
or their claims have been otherwise discharged.
(3) If required by the department, a certificate of the death of
(4) If required by the department, the names and addresses of any
other heirs or beneficiaries.
(c) If the department is presented with the documents specified in
paragraphs (1) and (2) of subdivision (b), no liability shall be
incurred by the department or any officer or employee of the
department by reason of the transfer of registration of the vessel
pursuant to this section. The department or officer or employee of
the department may rely in good faith on the statements in the
certificate specified in paragraph (2) of subdivision (b) and has no
duty to inquire into the truth of any statement in the certificate.
The person who secures the transfer of the vessel pursuant to this
section is subject to the provisions of Section 13109 to 13113,
inclusive, of the Probate Code to the same extent as a person to whom
transfer of property is made under Chapter 3 (commencing with
Section 13100) of Part 1 of Division 8 of the Probate Code.
(a) On death of the owner of a vessel numbered under this
division and owned in beneficiary form, the vessel belongs to the
surviving beneficiary, if any. If there is no surviving beneficiary,
the vessel belongs to the estate of the deceased owner.
(b) A certificate of ownership in beneficiary form may be revoked
or the beneficiary changed at any time before the death of the owner
by either of the following methods:
(1) By sale of the vessel with property assignment and delivery of
the certificate of ownership to another person.
(2) By application for a new certificate of ownership without
designation of a beneficiary or with the designation of a different
(c) Except as provided in subdivision (b), designation of a
beneficiary in a certificate of ownership issued in beneficiary form
may not be changed or revoked by will, by any other instrument, by a
change of circumstances, or otherwise.
(d) The beneficiary's interest in the vessel at death of the owner
is subject to any contract of sale, assignment, or security interest
to which the owner was subject during his or her lifetime.
(e) The surviving beneficiary may secure a transfer of ownership
for the vessel upon presenting to the department all of the
(1) The appropriate certificate of ownership.
(2) A certificate under penalty of perjury stating the date and
place of the owner's death and that the declarant is entitled to the
vessel as the designated beneficiary.
(3) If required by the department, a certificate of the death of
(f) After the death of the owner, the surviving beneficiary may
transfer his or her interest in the vessel to another person without
securing transfer of ownership into his or her own name by
appropriately signing the certificate of ownership for the vessel and
delivering the document to the transferee for forwarding to the
department with appropriate fees. The transferee may secure a
transfer of ownership upon presenting to the department (1) the
certificate of title signed by the beneficiary, (2) the certificate
described in paragraph (2) of subdivision (e) executed by the
beneficiary under penalty of perjury, and (3) if required by the
department, a certificate of death of the owner.
(g) A transfer at death pursuant to this section is effective by
reason of this section, and shall not be deemed to be a testamentary
disposition of property. The right of the designated beneficiary to
the vessel shall not be denied, abridged, or affected on the grounds
that the right has not been created by a writing executed in
accordance with the laws of this state prescribing the requirements
to effect a valid testamentary disposition of property.
(h) A transfer at death pursuant to this section is subject to
Section 9653 of the Probate Code.
(i) If there is no surviving beneficiary, the person or persons
described in Section 9916 may secure transfer of the vessel as
provided in that section.
(j) The department may prescribe forms for use pursuant to this
(a) If the department makes a transfer pursuant to Section
9916.5, the department is discharged from all liability, whether or
not the transfer is consistent with the beneficial ownership of the
(b) The protection provided by subdivision (a) does not extend to
a transfer made after the department has been served with a court
order restraining the transfer. No other notice or information shown
to have been available to the department shall affect its right to
the protection afforded by subdivision (a).
(c) The protection provided by this section has no bearing on the
rights of parties in disputes between themselves or their successors
concerning the beneficial ownership of the vessel.
(d) The protection provided by this section is in addition to, and
not exclusive of, any other protection provided to the department by
any other provision of law.
Whenever application is made to the department for a transfer
of ownership of a vessel to a new owner or legal owner and the
applicant is unable to present the certificate of ownership issued
for the vessel by reason of the same being lost or otherwise not
available, the department may receive the application and examine
into the circumstances of the case and may require the filing of
affidavits or other information, and when the department is satisfied
that the applicant is entitled to a transfer of ownership, the
department may transfer the ownership of the vessel, and issue a new
certificate of ownership, and certificate of number to the person or
persons found to be entitled thereto.
If the application for a transfer is made in the manner
provided in this code, the department shall not be required to
withhold the transfer of any right, title or interest in or to a
vessel if the application on its face appears to be genuine and
regular and the department has received neither a request from any
law enforcement agency that action on the application be deferred nor
an order of a court of the United States or of the State of
California restraining the transfer within two years prior thereto.
No security interest in any vessel numbered under this code,
irrespective of whether such number was effected prior or subsequent
to the creation of such security interest, is perfected, until the
secured party, or his successor or assignee, has deposited with the
department a properly endorsed certificate of ownership to the
vessel, subject to the security interest, showing the secured party
as legal owner if the vessel is then numbered under this code; or if
the vessel is not so numbered, the owner shall file an initial
application for number as provided for in this code, and the
certificate of ownership issued under said application shall contain
the name and address of the legal owner.
When the secured party, his successor or assignee, has
deposited with the department a properly endorsed certificate of
ownership showing the secured party as legal owner, or if the vessel
is not numbered when the owner shall file an initial application for
number as provided for in this code, and the certificate of ownership
issued under said application shows said secured party as the legal
owner, and said certificate of ownership is deposited with the
department, the deposit constitutes perfection of the security
Upon the deposit with the department of the certificate of
ownership showing the secured party as legal owner as provided in
Section 9919 hereof, the department shall on its records show the
secured party, his successor or assignee, as legal owner with respect
to such vessel.
The method provided in this chapter for perfecting a security
interest in a vessel numbered under this code is exclusive.
In the absence of the regularly required supporting evidence
of ownership upon application for registration or transfer of a
vessel, the department may accept an undertaking or bond in the
amount of the fair market value of the vessel at the time of the
application, as determined by the department, which shall be
conditioned to protect the department and all officers and employees
thereof and any subsequent purchaser of the vessel, any person
acquiring a lien or security interest thereon, or the successor in
interest of such purchaser or person, against any loss or damage on
account of any defect in or undisclosed claim upon the right, title,
and interest of the applicant or other person in and to the vessel.
In the event the vessel is no longer registered in this state
and the currently valid certificate of ownership is surrendered to
the department or the vessel has been destroyed or lost, the bond or
undertaking shall be returned and surrendered after three years.
The department shall withhold the certificate of number or
the transfer of registration of any vessel sold at retail to any
applicant by any person other than a person holding a seller's permit
pursuant to Section 6066 of the Revenue and Taxation Code, and
regularly engaged in the business of selling vessels, until the
applicant pays to the department the use tax measured by the sales
price of the vessel as required by the Sales and Use Tax Law,
together with penalty, if any, unless the State Board of Equalization
finds that no use tax is due. If the applicant so desires, he may
pay the use tax and penalty, if any, to the department so as to
secure immediate action upon his application for registration or
transfer of registration and thereafter he may apply through the
Department of Motor Vehicles to the State Board of Equalization under
the provisions of the Sales and Use Tax Law for a refund of the
amount so paid.
(b) The department shall transmit to the State Board of
Equalization all collections of the use tax and penalty made under
this section. This transmittal shall be made at least monthly,
accompanied by a schedule in such form as the department and board
(c) The State Board of Equalization shall reimburse the department
for its costs incurred in carrying out the provisions of this
(d) In computing any use tax or penalty thereon under the
provisions of the section, dollar fractions shall be disregarded in
the manner specified in Section 9559. Payment of tax and penalty on
this basis shall be deemed full compliance with the requirements of
the Sales and Use Tax Law insofar as they are applicable to the use
of vessels to which this section relates.
(e) The department and the State Board of Equalization shall enter
into an agreement for the collection of the use tax pursuant to this
section and Section 6294 of the Revenue and Taxation Code. The
agreement shall specify the procedures agreed upon by the department
and the board for collection of the tax and the reimbursement
provided for in subdivision (c). The agreement shall be approved by
the Department of Finance.