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Do a boat search

Buying a new or used boat comes with risk - doing a $2 search on the PPSR can help you check if the boat, jet-ski, tinny or other type of watercraft you're buying has a security interest registered against it. This could mean it has money owing on it and is at risk of being repossessed.

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Why do a PPSR boat search?

It's a good idea to always check the PPSR before you buy a boat or other types of watercraft.

When you do a search, it will tell you if the boat you're about to buy has a security interest registered against it meaning there could be money owing on it. If you buy a boat with money owing and the seller stops making repayments, the person who is owed the debt, (such as a bank), may be able to repossess the boat from you.

You’ll also get a search certificate which you can use as a legal record of your results.

What a PPSR search costs

A search can be done two ways:

  • Online self-service: $2.00
  • Assisted phone service: $7.00

You can pay using a credit card or debit card.

What you need to do a search

To do a watercraft search, you’ll need:

  • a credit or debit card and
  • the serial number of the watercraft - the hull identification number (HIN) or official number

Where to find the HIN or official number

When you do your search, you’ll be asked for the hull identification number (HIN) or official number. These are unique identifiers for boats or other vessels.

Hull identifier number (HIN)

Most boats and watercraft under 24 metres will have a HIN (also known as Boatcode) attached or stamped into the hull or back. It's usually 14 characters and identifies the country, manufacturer, serial number and date it was built.

You might also consider requesting the seller to show you the registration documents to make sure the HIN listed there matches the one on the boat.

Official number

If the type of watercraft you're searching for is over 24 metres, such as a yacht or a ship, it may have an official number. This is a unique 6 digit identifier.

If the boat doesn't have a HIN or official number

If the boat doesn't have a HIN (usually this happens with older boats) you may need to get a HIN from a Boatcode provider, or speak to the seller about getting one. You can contact your state maritime authority for more information about registering a boat or getting a HIN.

If it doesn’t have a HIN or official number, you may want to do a search against the person or organisation selling it. To find out how to do this, see Individual search or Organisation search.

Types of watercraft you can search for

A PPSR boat search covers many types of watercraft, including:

  • fishing boats, jet skis and tinnies
  • yachts, hovercraft and catamarans
  • ships, barges and ferries
  • house boats and tugs.

What's not included in a watercraft search

Identifying details of the watercraft

When you do a watercraft search on the PPSR, your search doesn't return any identifying details of the watercraft, such as make, model or registration status like it does for a PPSR car search. This means you need to be careful when entering the serial number (HIN or official number) as you won't be able to cross check the information to confirm you've searched for the right boat.

Stolen or damaged boats

Your search won’t tell you if the boat you are looking to buy is stolen or has been badly damaged. To make sure, check the boat's registration with your state maritime authority or contact the police in your state or territory for information regarding it's stolen status.

Outboard motors

If you are buying an outboard motor, any security interests registered against the motor itself won't appear in a PPSR watercraft search. These would be registered against the individual or organisation that gave an interest in the motor. As this could be the person or organisation selling the boat, you may want to do a search against them as well as your boat search.

To find out how, see Individual search and Organisation search.

Boat trailers

If the boat comes with a boat trailer, any security interests registered against the trailer won't return in a PPSR watercraft search.

To find these, you’ll need to do a motor vehicle search using the trailer’s vehicle identifying number (usually a VIN), as well as your boat search.

To find out how see Do a used car or vehicle search.

When to search

You can do a search any time but you should do a PPSR search immediately before you intend to buy the boat - the closer you search to the time of purchase the better. This means you’ll get the most up-to-date information and you'll be further protecting yourself from the risk of repossession. See Purchaser protections for more information about the protection a PPSR search offers.

The person selling the watercraft might give you a search certificate. You can verify this online for free, although you may consider doing a new search for $2 to make sure you're protected as the search results won't be updated.

To find out how to do this see Get a copy of a search result.

Start your PPSR boat search now

How to do a boat search

You don't have to have a PPSR account to do a boat search. However, if you do have one you can log into your account before you start.

To do a PPSR watercraft search, go to the PPSR watercraft search page, then:

  1. Enter your HIN or official number.
  2. If you'd like to include a reference number for your own records, enter this in the Client billing reference field.
  3. Review your search criteria and if it's correct select Next.
  4. Enter your payment details. You can pay by credit or debit card.
  5. Enter your email address to be sent the tax invoice. Select Next.
  6. You'll now see a Search result summary. Select View certificate to download and open your search certificate and find your detailed search results. You can also select Email certificate to have the search results emailed to you.
  7. Save your search certificate somewhere safe. This is your legal record of your search.

Your search results

When you’ve done your search, you’ll get a PPSR search certificate. This will show you all the security interests registered on the PPSR against the serial number you’ve searched for. The PPSR search certificate is a legal record.

The certificate can be emailed to you or viewed on screen and saved as a PDF. You can get a copy of your search certificate at a later date at no additional cost.

Sample watercraft search certificate with no PPSR registrations
No PPSR registrations

Look at your search certificate under the heading ‘PPSR Registration Details’:

If your certificate says:

‘There is no security interest or other registration kind registered on the PPSR against the serial number in the search criteria details.'

This means no one has a current registered security interest on the PPSR against the serial number (HIN or official number) you searched for.

Download a sample search certificate:

Sample watercraft search certificate with PPSR registrations
PPSR registrations

If your certificate shows any ‘PPSR registration’ details, this means someone has registered their security interest on the PPSR. This means someone claims to have an interest in the watercraft, such as money still owing.

The details of the secured party who have the interest will appear here. The PPSR won't tell you the value of any security interests or debts.

If you'd like more information about the security interest, you can contact the seller directly or the secured party using the address for service details provided on the certificate.

Download a sample search certificate:

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