A boat trailer is a piece of equipment that can carry, store, launch or retrieve a boat. A trailer is a vehicle that does not power itself, other than a pole trailer. A trailer is typically drawn by a motor vehicle. It must be constructed so no part of its weight rests upon the towing vehicle.
The Illinois Secretary of State issues one license plate to each trailer. An individual who has lost the title for a boat trailer in Illinois may apply for a duplicate title. The Illinois Secretary of State (ILSOS) will not issue a duplicate title for a boat trailer within 15 days from the issuance of an original title or 30 days from the issuance of a duplicate title. The individual must submit the $50 fee, any pertinent documentation and a completed application for Vehicle Transaction Form VSD 190, and check the box for “duplicate title” in the top section.
Out-of-state Residents and Duplicate Title
An out-of-state resident may not apply for an Illinois duplicate title if they bought a trailer without a title from an Illinois resident. The Illinois owner must apply for the duplicate title.
If a former Illinois resident was the last valid title holder of the trailer, that person may apply for the duplicate title. The former Illinois resident must provide their former Illinois address in the owner’s address information area on the application. They should include out-of-state mailing instructions in the “mail to” information area.
Required Documents for Illinois Boat Registration
The state of Illinois requires a boat title for a vessel or a vehicle title for a boat trailer in order to document proof of ownership. Title is also required to transfer ownership of a boat or trailer. In 2018, Illinois removed the requirement for a certificate of title for a vessel under 22 feet in length.
A boat owner should submit an application to the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) to register a new boat in Illinois. Submitting the application does not guarantee that the department will approve the application. For a brand-new watercraft that falls into Class 1 (other than jet skis or personal watercraft (PWC) the applicant should check the “new” box on the application, provide the original manufacturer’s statement of origin and submit a check or money order payable to IDRN for watercraft registration fees. No sales tax form is required.
Class 1 includes all powered watercraft less than 16 feet, except non-powered watercraft less than 16 feet. Class 2 watercraft are watercraft between 16 feet and less than 26 feet; Class 3 watercraft are watercraft between 26 feet and less than 40 feet; and Class 4 watercraft are watercraft 40 feet or over.
Registering Jet Skis and Personal Watercraft
For brand-new watercraft that is a jet ski or PWC that falls into Class 1, or falls into Class 2, 3 or 4 and was purchased from an Illinois dealer or retailer, the applicant should submit a completed watercraft application, with the “new” box checked, an original manufacturer’s statement of origin, a check or money order payable to IDNR for registration fees and a check or money order payable to IDNR for the tax amount due. If the applicant purchased this watercraft from a dealer, they will need to submit a ST-556 tax form. If they purchased the watercraft from a retailer, they will need to submit a RUT-25 tax form and the bill of sale.
Watercraft Purchased in Other States
For new watercraft of all class types that are purchased from an out-of-state dealer, the applicant must submit a completed watercraft application with the “new” box checked, the original manufacturer’s statement of origin, a check or money order payable to IDNR for registration fees, a RUT-25 tax form, a copy of the bill of sale or purchase agreement and a check or money order payable to the Department of Revenue for the tax amount due.
For used watercraft currently issued an out-of-state registration number of Class 1, except jet skis and PWCs that were acquired from an individual, the applicant should submit a completed watercraft application with the “new” box checked, the original out-of-state title (if titling state) or registration card from a non-titling state) and a check or money order payable to IDNR. No tax form is required.
For a used watercraft that is currently issued an out-of-state registration number, and is a Class 1 jet ski or PWC or a Class 2, 3 or 4 watercraft acquired from a private party, an applicant should submit a completed watercraft application with the “new” box checked, the original out-of-state title (if titling state) or registration card (if non-titling state), a check or money order payable to IDNR, a RUT-75 tax form, copies of the bill of sale or purchase and a check or money order payable to the Department of Revenue for the tax amount due.
Duplicate Title for a Boat
A boat owner can replace a lost boat title by completing the watercraft application and checking the “duplicate title” box. They should also complete sections A, B, E and F on the application. The owner should surrender the original title if they recover it later. The fee for a duplicate title is $7.00. If a boat has been junked, sacked or destroyed, the owner must surrender the title to IDNR. The boat cannot be registered or titled again.
Time to Process an Application
Due to COVID-19 and minimal staffing during the pandemic, it typically takes about 10 to 12 weeks for IDNR to process an application for a boat title. The owner should keep the temporary permit copy of the watercraft application with them while boating in Illinois.
It takes ILSOS three to four weeks after receiving an application to process the paperwork for a boat trailer. The exception is if an applicant files an application for expedited title service. Then the applicant can expect that the title will be available for pickup or shipped the next business day. There is a $30 fee for this expedited service.
If an applicant has not heard about their watercraft application, they should provide the microfilm number printed on the front of the cashed check or money order made payable to IDNR, which they mailed in with the watercraft application. IDNR can locate the applicant’s paperwork with that number.
- Illinois Department of Natural Resources: Duplicate Decals, Title, Registration or Correction
- Illinois Secretary of State: Duplicate Titles
- Illinois Department of Natural Resources: Registering a New Boat in Illinois
- Illinois Secretary of State: TA Trailer
- Illinois Department of Natural Resources: Watercraft Registration/Title Application
- Illinois Department of Natural Resources: Transaction Fees
- Illinois Department of Natural Resources: Tax Requirement on Watercraft
- Illinois Department of Natural Resources: Boating
- Illinois Secretary of State: Vehicle Services, FAQ
- Illinois Secretary of State: Vehicle Services, Expedited Title Service
Jessica Zimmer is a journalist and attorney based in northern California. She has practiced in a wide variety of fields, including criminal defense, property law, immigration, employment law, and family law.