How to Trade In or Donate Your Old BoatYou’re thinking about parting with your boat. Maybe you no longer use it or you want a newer model. But you don’t know how you would go about trading it in or donating it. How do these processes work?

This article discusses the intricacies of these processes and answers that question. The first half discusses how to trade in your boat, while the second half discusses donating your boat.

Trading In Your Boat

The following are the necessary steps for trading in your boat:

  • Determine the value of your used boat. Do this by checking with NADAGuides (found online) to figure out your boat’s approximate value. Keep in mind when you trade in your boat, you will usually get less than its value.
  • Decide whether or not you want to repair the boat. Fixing up the boat, including cleaning it, charging the battery or making major repairs, can increase value.
  • Talk to boat dealers in your area. Ask if they’re presently looking for a boat with your make and model.
  • Visit the boat dealer with recent photos of your boat. Before taking any photos, clean your boat; remove any stuff you may have in it and make it look presentable.
  • Decide which new boat you want. Ask for the best out-the-door price for the new boat you plan on purchasing.
  • Ask about a discount. Ask how much of a discount you get for trading in your used boat.
  • Double-check that your boat is ready to trade in. Make sure all liens are paid off and the title is clear.
  • Get the details. Make sure the boat dealer won’t sell your boat on consignment, leaving you to cover storage, insurance and advertising expenses. Clarify with the dealer because the cost difference between a 100-percent trade-in and consignment is significant.

Donating Your Boat

The following are the steps for donating your boat:

  • Figure out the charity you want to donate your boat to. If you want to donate a boat to charity, you need to first find a charity you support and ask them what the likely donation amount will be. You also should give them a fair assessment of the condition and current value of your boat. Not all charities are equipped to handle boat donations, so make sure the one (or ones) you're considering do
  • Ask the charity what condition they would need the boat to be in. Most charities will take the boat “as is where is,” which means what you see is what you get.
  • Ask the charity about transportation. Do they need you to bring the boat to them or will they pick it up? Typically, you should drop the boat off yourself.
  • If your boat is in storage, ask the charity who will cover storage costs during the donation process.
  • Determine how you’ll be compensated. Do you want a tax-deductible receipt?
  • Keep a paper trail. Get proof of the donation, such as a receipt from the charity and a copy of the title change.

Getting Rid of Your Old Boat Isn’t Difficult

There are several steps for both trading in and donating your old boat. The process isn’t too difficult, as long as you spend some time and document everything you do. Trading in your boat is a good option if you want another one. Donating your boat is a great idea as well, because you will be helping others. Either way, you’ll no longer have that old boat you don’t want.