TPWD Requiring Serial Number or TX Number in Ads for Boat Foreclosures

by Rigby Slack, PLLC, TSSA Legal Counsel

The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (“TPWD”) recently provided TSSA with important guidance as to newspaper advertising requirements when selling vessels or outboard motors at a foreclosure auction. Per Section 59.044(a) of the Texas Property Code, a newspaper advertisement giving notice of a public sale must include (1) a general description of the property, (2) a statement that the property is being sold to satisfy a landlord’s lien, (3) the tenant’s name, (4) the address of the self-service storage facility, and (5) the time, place, and terms of sale. While this section of the Texas Property Code merely requires a “general description” of the property when identifying the property in an advertising notice, the TPWD has interpreted this to mean that the “TX or serial number” of each such boat/vessel should also be included in each notice. More specifically, the TPWD has confirmed that a “general description” of the property should include the “make, TX or serial number, AND year built” of the vessel and/or outboard motor


The TX number is assigned by the TPWD. The TX number of a vessel is required to be painted on or affixed as stickers to each side of the forward half of the vessel in BLOCK characters. The TX numbers are generally in the following formats: “TX 0001 GG” or “TX-0001-GG.”


With respect to boats, all boats manufactured since November 1, 1972 must include a hull identification number (“HIN”) which effectively serves as the boat’s serial number. The HIN is a 12-character identifier usually found on the transom of the boat on the right starboard side of the transom within 2 inches of the top of the transom, gunwale, or hull/deck joint, whichever is lowest. HINs are formatted as follows: “ABC 12345 D6 78.” For outboard motors, an outboard motor identification number (“MIN”) is the appropriate identifier. Each engine maker uses a different placement point and code identifier for MINs. However, the MIN is typically found on the side of the motor on a plate which identifies the make, model and serial number.


While the Texas Property Code merely requires a “general description” of the property when identifying the property in newspaper advertisements, the TPWD has interpreted this to mean that the (1) Make, (2) TX or Serial Number, and (3) year built for such boat/outboard motor be included in such notice. The TPWD has confirmed that either a TX number or a serial number will suffice. Additionally, the TPWD has stated that “since TX numbers typically have fewer digits than serial numbers, then it is usually cheaper to place an advertisement with TX numbers than with serial numbers.” Moving forward, TSSA members should include this information when advertising a foreclosure auction of a vessel and/or outboard motor to the public. Otherwise, there is a risk that the TPWD will not let the new buyer re-register the vessel/outboard motor following the auction.

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