Boats Basics Guide

Sales or use tax is due on the sale, lease, rental, transfer, donation or use of boats and trailers in Idaho unless a valid exemption applies. This guide explains sales and use tax requirements for buyers and sellers of boats and trailers. This guide applies to the following transactions:

  • Sales and leases by Idaho dealers and retailers
  • Sales between private parties, including family members
  • Sales by financial institutions
  • Bartering goods or services for a boat or trailer
  • Bringing a boat or trailer that you bought in another state into Idaho
  • Giving or receiving a boat or trailer as a gift or prize
  • Selling or transferring ownership between businesses or related parties in a business
  • Renting out or leasing out boats or trailers as nondealer individuals or businesses that aren’t dealers


vessel is any type of watercraft that can be used for transportation on water. This includes:

  • Boats
  • Seaplanes used on the water
  • Kayaks
  • Jet Ski®
  • Paddleboards

The following aren’t vessels:

  • Float houses
  • Diver’s aids designed primarily to propel a diver below the water
  • Nonmotorized devices such as inflatable air mattresses, single inner tubes and water toys

documented vessel is a ship that is at least 26 feet long, weighs 5 net tons or more and is registered through the United States Coast Guard. Vessel documentation is a national form of registration.

boat trailer is a vehicle designed to carry a boat while being pulled by a motor vehicle.