(1) Each vessel that is operated, used, or stored on the waters of this state must be titled by this state pursuant to this chapter, unless it is:
(a) A vessel operated, used, or stored exclusively on private lakes and ponds;
(b) A vessel owned by the United States Government;
(c) A non-motor-powered vessel less than 16 feet in length;
(d) A federally documented vessel;
(e) A vessel already covered by a registration number in full force and effect which was awarded to it pursuant to a federally approved numbering system of another state or by the United States Coast Guard in a state without a federally approved numbering system, if the vessel is not located in this state for a period in excess of 90 consecutive days;
(f) A vessel from a country other than the United States temporarily used, operated, or stored on the waters of this state for a period that is not in excess of 90 days;
(g) An amphibious vessel for which a vehicle title is issued by the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles;
(h) A vessel used solely for demonstration, testing, or sales promotional purposes by the manufacturer or dealer; or
(i) A vessel owned and operated by the state or a political subdivision thereof.
(2) A person shall not operate, use, or store a vessel for which a certificate of title is required unless the owner has received from the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles a valid certificate of title for such vessel. However, such vessel may be operated, used, or stored for a period of up to 180 days after the date of application for a certificate of title while the application is pending.
(3) A person shall not sell, assign, or transfer a vessel titled by the state without delivering to the purchaser or transferee a valid certificate of title with an assignment on it showing the transfer of title to the purchaser or transferee. A person shall not purchase or otherwise acquire a vessel required to be titled by the state without obtaining a certificate of title for the vessel in his or her name. The purchaser or transferee shall, within 30 days after a change in vessel ownership, file an application for a title transfer with the county tax collector. An additional $10 fee shall be charged against the purchaser or transferee if he or she files a title transfer application after the 30-day period. The county tax collector shall be entitled to retain $5 of the additional amount.
(4) A certificate of title is prima facie evidence of the ownership of the vessel. A certificate of title is good for the life of the vessel so long as the certificate is owned or held by the legal holder. If a titled vessel is destroyed or abandoned, the owner, with the consent of any recorded lienholders, shall, within 30 days after the destruction or abandonment, surrender to the department for cancellation any and all title documents. If a titled vessel is insured and the insurer has paid the owner for the total loss of the vessel, the insurer shall obtain the title to the vessel and, within 30 days after receiving the title, forward the title to the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles for cancellation. The insurer may retain the certificate of title when payment for the loss was made because of the theft of the vessel.
(5) The Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles shall provide labeled places on the title where the seller’s price shall be indicated when a vessel is sold and where a selling dealer shall record his or her valid sales tax certificate of registration number.
(6)(a) The Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles shall charge a fee of $5.25 for issuing each certificate of title. The tax collector shall be entitled to retain $3.75 of the fee.
(b) Beginning July 1, 1996, the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles shall use security procedures, processes, and materials in the preparation and issuance of each certificate of title to prohibit, to the extent possible, a person’s ability to alter, counterfeit, duplicate, or modify the certificate.
(7) The Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles shall charge a fee of $4 in addition to that charged in subsection (6) for each initial certificate of title issued for a vessel previously registered outside this state.
(8) The Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles shall make regulations necessary and convenient to carry out the provisions of this chapter.