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How to Register Your Boat

How to Register Your Boat
Read Time: 9 Minutes
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One of the most important steps in boat ownership is registering your vessel. Although specific requirements vary from state to state and by the type and size of the boat, it’s likely that you need to display a registration number and/or validation sticker. Watch the video below from Take Me Fishing™ for all the details on getting your boat properly registered.

Why Register Your Boat?

Not only is boat registration a legal requirement and proves your ownership of the vessel, the process also does a lot of good for the state-wide boating community. Keeping a careful record of registered boats helps to create a safe, enjoyable atmosphere for you and other boaters sharing the water.

Additionally, the fee that you pay to register your boat is used to preserve and protect your state’s waterways and natural resources. This ensures that future generations will be able to enjoy the same beautiful spaces that you enjoy today.

Boat Registration vs. Boating License

Your boat’s registration is similar to your car’s license plate. It’s a legal document proving your boat has been registered with the state and that you are its rightful owner. A boating license, on the other hand, is a credential granted to boaters that pass a state-approved exam demonstrating their proficiency in boating safety, navigation, and other boating basics.

Boat Registration Fees

There is not a clear-cut answer to the question “how much does it cost to register my boat?” because the cost varies by state and by the size and type of the vessel you’re registering. However, the average cost usually ranges from $25 to $250.

Once your registration fee has been paid you will receive a certificate of registration and a validation decal to be displayed on the outside of your boat making it clearly identifiable.

How to Renew Your Boat Registration

By law you are required to have proof of registration aboard your boat at all times so it’s important to keep track of renewal deadlines and expiration dates. It is recommended that you begin the renewal process 60 to 90 days in advance of your registration’s expiration to ensure there is no lapse in coverage.

To renew your boat’s registration you have the option to do so directly through your state’s department of motor vehicles or wildlife authority, but to save time you can typically also do so by phone or online.

When it’s time to renew your boat’s registration, be sure you’re prepared with the following (as well as any other resources your state specifically may require):

  • Existing registration information
  • Vessel information (including serial number and registration number)
  • Credit or debit card
  • Printer (if you wish to print a receipt or copy of your temporary registration)

If you’re ready to take your new boat out on the water for the first time, it’s important to go ahead and get started on the registration process. Select your state from the list below to find everything you need to know about your state’s unique requirements.

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