We recently finalized a partnership with Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) to provide water vessel (boat) registration and titling services to our customers!  Delivery begins in the Galveston Branch Wednesday, July 5th.  Although we are hopeful that all GCTO locations will be fully operational by the end of July, please call our Administrative team (1-877-766-2284) to confirm service at the office nearest you.  The La Marque Parks and Wildlife office will continue to provide services to customers and, of course, online services through its website are available 24/7 http://tpwd.texas.gov/.  We hope to offer online services through this website in the future. 
 
Although the County boasts more than 15,000 water vessels, registration and titling is not limited to county residents, thus, visitors from across Texas may obtain service when visiting Galveston County.  For those purchasing a new or used boat, ours is a one-stop-shop as the boat, outboard motor (if appropriate) and trailer may be registered in our office at the same time.  Out of county customers must title trailers in their county of residence unless they have a second home in Galveston County then the trailer may be registered at that address.  An additional bonus of doing business with us is that we accept credit cards.
 
TPWD requires all motorboats, outboard motors and sailboats 14’ or larger (or those with an auxiliary engine) to be registered.  Canoes, kayaks, punts, rowboats, rubber rafts and vessels less than 14’ (if paddled, poled, oared or windblown as long as a trolling motor has not been added) are exempt, as are out-of-country vessels temporarily using Texas waterways, those owned by a governmental entity and ship lifeboats.  Only US Coast Guard documented vessels (commercial tugboats, vessels exceeding 115' in length and pilot or crew boats transporting freight, supplies or personnel to or from cargo ships, freighters or offshore infrastructure) are exempt from applying for a Texas title but these vessels must be registered.  Certificate of documentation MUST be current in order to renew registration - once expired it could take several months to obtain a current certificate through the US Coast Guard office in New Jersey.
 
Basic information
  • Registrations may be renewed up to 90 days prior to expiration and are valid for a period of two years.  A Certificate of Number ID Card will be issued at the time of registration (with decals).  The ID card must always be aboard and available for inspection.  Replacement ID cards are available at our office for $11.
  • Since September 2016, the Federal government requires a valid drivers license and date of birth be verified and recorded for individuals registering and titling boats and motors.  Employer Identification Numbers (EIN) are required for companies, businesses, trusts, estates or other entity.  Please be prepared to provide that information at the time of service.
  • If you move, change of address can be completed at no cost by submitting form PWD 143M (TPWD PWD 143M Renew, Replace Lost, Add or Change Info.pdfTPWD PWD 143M Renew, Replace Lost, Add or Change Info.pdf) or by sending a letter, including your boat TX number/hull/serial identification number along with your new mailing address (signature required) to any GCTO office.
  • Residents new to Texas have up to 90 days to register their boat in the State
  • Applications for title (whether purchase, donation, gift, destruction, disposal or removal from State) must be filed within 20 working days from purchase to avoid tax penalties and interest.  TPWD PWD 143.Boat Title Registration or Title Form.pdfTPWD PWD 143.Boat Title Registration or Title Form.pdf
  • New boats and outboard motors require a Manufacturer's Statement of Origin (MSO).  If a private sale, we encourage both seller and buyer to complete ownership transfer so that seller's avoid future liability.  Sellers may download and complete the Vessel/Boat or Outboard Motor Ownership Transfer form (TPWD PWD 1340.Ownership Transfer Notification.pdfTPWD PWD 1340.Ownership Transfer Notification.pdf).  TPWD offers a simple online tool to accomplish this change (see link below under Titling section).

Registration Renewals

There are multiple options for the owner of record (or husband and wife with same last name and address) to renew registration.  An owner may designate someone to perform the renewal on their behalf by completing a Letter of Authorization (TPWD.Authorization to Act for Owner.pdfTPWD.Authorization to Act for Owner.pdf).  A representative must present a valid government issued photo identification.

  • Online through TPWD or Texas Online.  The decal and ID card will be mailed by TPWD.  When renewing online, print the receipt and carry it with you when boating.  The receipt may be used for up to 45 days from the date on the receipt.  US Coast Guard (USCG) documented vessels are not eligible for online registration renewal.
  • Mail the required fee (check or money order) with the renewal notice in the envelope provided by TPWD or to our office (PO Box 1169, Galveston, Texas 77553).  If you do not receive the renewal notice or misplace it, send the required fee along with a completed PWD 143M (TPWD PWD 143M Renew, Replace Lost, Add or Change Info.pdfTPWD PWD 143M Renew, Replace Lost, Add or Change Info.pdf) to TPWD, 4200 Smith School Road, Austin, Texas 78744 or to us.
  • Renew in person at a TPWD Field Office or any Galveston County Tax Office branch (see our homepage for locations and, through this summer, call toll free 1-877-766-2284 so that we can validate full service at an office nearest you).

        Registration Fees:

                     Less than 16'*         $32.00

                     From 16' to 26'       $53.00

                     From 26' to 40'     $110.00

                     Over 40'                $150.00

       * Including livery boats less than 16'

 

Titling Your Boat
As stated previously, transfer of title must be filed within 20 working days from date of purchase in order to avoid penalties and interest.  Homemade boats must be titled directly through TPWD.  New boats and outboard motors require a Manufacturer's Statement of Origin (MSO).  If a private sale, we encourage both seller and buyer to complete ownership transfer so that seller's avoid future liability.  Sellers may download and complete the Vessel/Boat or Outboard Motor Ownership Transfer form (TPWD PWD 1340.Ownership Transfer Notification.pdfTPWD PWD 1340.Ownership Transfer Notification.pdf).  TPWD offers a simple online tool to accomplish this change - simply click on this link:  TPWD Online Ownership Transfer.
 
The seller must complete the tax affidavit portion of PWD 143 (TPWD PWD 143.Boat Title Registration or Title Form.pdfTPWD PWD 143.Boat Title Registration or Title Form.pdf) and/or PWD 144 (TPWD PWD 144.Outboard Motor Application.pdfTPWD PWD 144.Outboard Motor Application.pdf), sign and date each.  If the boat or outboard motor is required to be titled, the seller must provide either the MSO, Texas title OR out--of-state title/registration (whichever is appropriate by that state).  The seller must print the name of the purchaser, sign and date the title.  The brown colored titles have space on the back of the title to complete the bill of sale information.  If a hand written bill of sale is provided instead of the title or sales tax affidavit portion of the form, LIST THE PRICE OF THE TRAILER SEPARATELY FROM THE PRICE OF THE BOAT AND OUTBOARD MOTOR.  The bill of sale MUST include the date of sale, price (excluding trailer), description of the boat and outboard motor (make, year and TX or serial number), the purchaser's name and seller's signature.
 
The purchaser must obtain the signed title along with a bill of sale and should complete the rest of the application and sign.  Do NOT purchase a used boat or motor without obtaining a signed title and a bill of sale from the titled seller or their legal representative (obtain copy of authorizing document).  A pencil tracing or photograph of the boat hull/identification and/or motor identification/serial number is required if the boat/motor is from out of state or not previously titled.  Submit the application, title, supporting documents, fees and taxes within 20 days to avoid penalty and interest.  Then, enjoy your boat!
 
Frequently Used Forms
The following are forms you are most likely to use along with a brief explanation of each.  Additional forms are available on the TPWD site at http://tpwd.texas.gov/.
 

 

Final Note from Tax Assessor Collector

  • There are many complexities associated with boat ownership and it may take us several months to become fully proficient.  Please be patient while we learn and train all staff.  If we are unable to help or your question is complex, please call the TPWD Boat Information Hotline at 1-800-262-8755. 
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  • Thank you and happy boating!
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