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Consumer Protection and Licensing Programs

Woman boater talking to man at boat parked in dock

 

The Division of Boating and Waterways licenses and regulates yacht brokers and salespersons in California, reports broker violations to the public. We also provide you with the tools to inform you about buying a used boat, registering your boat, learning about how to boat safety and reporting a boating accident.


IconBroker Act Violations
Yatch and ship broker act violation news.


IconFor-Hire Vessel Operator
Power vessel operators carrying four or more passengers for-hire (any type of compensation) on non-navigable waters (waters which cannot be navigated to the sea or to another state) are required to obtain and maintain a valid For-Hire Vessel Operator's License.


IconFor-Hire Vessel Carrier
Perform passenger transportation services (for any type of compensation) other than point-to-point service are subject to the For-Hire Vessel Carrier regulation.


IconYatch & Ship Broker Licensing
DBW licenses and regulates yacht brokers and salespersons in California. Those selling used vessels 16’ or longer and less than 300 gross tons, for others, are required to be licensed. DBW enforces the Harbors & Navigation Code to regulate the activities of licensees to ensure compliance and provide consumer protection.


IconHow to Buy a Used Boat
To make sure you get years of pleasure and adventure out of your used boat, buy smart. This special booklet will help you. It's a service of the California Division of Boating and Waterways and the California Yacht Brokers Association (CYBA). Read it before you buy!


IconRegister Your Boat (DMV)
Application to register a vessel may be made at any office of the Department of Moter Vehicles (DMV). Upon recipt of the required information and fees DMV will issue you a Certificate of Number and Certification Ownership.


Frequently Asked Questions

You may find helpful tips in the How to Buy a Used Boat booklet published by the Division of Boating and Waterways. You may want to consider using a licensed broker to assist you finding the boat of your dreams. The law requires licensure for any person, for compensation, who sells used boats in the state of California that they do not own, that is more than 16’ and under 300 gross tons. There are few exceptions to this law that can be found in the Harbors and Navigation Code, Section 710
Licensed brokers must be bonded, fingerprinted and posses a working knowledge and understanding of the principles of the yacht brokerage business and profession before licensure. Licensees also have instant access to statewide, national and even international networks of boat owners and brokers with boats to sell. Lastly, the Division has regulatory oversight of the licensees to ensure compliance with consumer protection laws. The Division encourages consumers to make smart choices by selecting brokers that are licensed in the State of California.
Every broker’s license shall be prominently displayed in the broker’s principal office and every salesperson’s license shall be prominently displayed in the broker’s principal office or branch office in which the business of such salesman is transacted. You can also obtain a list from the Division’s website.
You can check the Division’s website for current violations, or contact the Yacht & Ship enforcement unit at (916) 327-1839.
An exclusive listing is a written agreement between the owner of the vessel and a broker, which provides that the commission is due the broker named in the contract, if the boat is sold, traded, or exchanged within the time limit which must be specified in the contract. Make sure you do not have any open listing agreements at the time you sign an exclusive listing agreement.

An open listing is a written agreement between the owner of a vessel and a broker which authorizes the broker to negotiate the sale, trade, or exchange of the vessel, but reserves to the owner the right, without incurring a liability for the payment of a commission to said broker, to negotiate the sale, trade, or exchange of said vessel himself, or to enter into open listing agreements with other brokers respecting said vessel. Make sure you do not have any exclusive listing agreements at the time you sign an open listing agreement.
Harbors and Navigation Code section 700 through 754 and California Code of Regulations, Title 14, Division 4, Chapter 1, Article 8, section 7601 through 7623. Click Here.
You can find the complaint form and instructions on the Division’s Website, or you may contact the Yacht & Ship Enforcement Unit at (916) 327-1839 or (916) 327-1838.