Topic 1: General stories about used boat purchase / boat documents

The offer of used boats is immensely large and runs today mainly on special Internet portals where sellers offer their boats. After the potential buyer has found his “dream boat”, it is now time to tackle the purchase of the boat. It is precisely from this point that some pitfalls await the buyer.
When assessing the condition of the boat, a friend “who knows boats” may be able to help. But it remains to be seen whether he can also determine the realistic market value.

But at the latest, when it comes to the boat documents, he will get stuck in the jungle of documents. The overwhelming majority of buyers can’t even begin with the mere terms. Who knows what a Builder’s Certificate is, who issues it when and what it is used for, what the purpose of a DoC is and what the module “C” means in this context and what the term “B+C” means.

I will spare myself the listing of further examples at this point. The fact is that in Germany alone there are numerous possibilities to register your boat.

  • 38 ship registers (maritime register + inland register)
  • 17 waterways and shipping offices
  • The Federal Maritime and Hydrographic Agency with offices in
    Hamburg and Rostock.
  • Numerous officially recognised bodies such as the ADAC, DMYV, DSYV.

There is no central register like for cars, for example, but each of these offices keeps its own register with its own software. This is not exactly conducive to data exchange among each other.
At the European level, there are serious differences in the way documents are handled and possible registration or de-registration. For example, in Spain, in contrast to Germany, there is a registration obligation for boats over 7 meters, or in France there is a document called “Francisation”. About all these “secrets” I will try to enlighten you in the next months.
Basically, there are some key points that are important when dealing with documents.

  • What is the country of origin of the boat?
  • Where was the first registration of the boat?
  • What is the relevance of the various documents in the respective country?
  • What are the implications, e.g. for registration in Germany?


The decision to buy a recreational boat is mainly based on emotions. We therefore recommend that you seek expert advice from a third party, an independent party, who has no emotions attached to the purchase of the boat in question. So it remains exciting in the near future. Look regularly on this side, we bring light into the jungle of the document world of boats.

The article was written by:
E/M/S – European Institute for Maritime Services, with a unique, Europe-wide network of experts/experts for boats. THE recognised specialist for all questions concerning used boats, boat appraisals and boat documents.

E/M/S – European Institute for Maritime Services
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E-07012 Palma de Mallorca
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