WHAT ARE THE BOAT REGISTRATION REQUIREMENTS?
Boat registration is a state requirement for powered boats and other types of boats, while every boater must register other recreational boats with the Coast Guard federally. With this being said, the first step is knowing and reading the rules.
One of the common reasons for arrests and citations among US boaters is registration and boat numbering violations. These registration citations carry serious consequences that require penalties or, in worst cases, serving jail time.
Boat registration and boat documentation are two ways to register recreational boats in the US.
BOAT REGISTRATION AND CERTIFICATE OF NUMBER
It is mandatory to register motorized boats with documentation with the state. The state issues the Certificate of Number for each registered boat. The state also requires every boat to have this Certificate of Number displayed on the exterior part of the boat.
In addition, this Certificate of Number must be carried by every boater whenever they use their boat. In cases where the boat is transferred to another place, you must replace the Certificate of Number within 60 days. More importantly, it is crucial to check with your state for registration requirements since they vary from state to state.
EXTERNAL REGISTRATION IDENTIFICATION NUMBER DISPLAY
NOTE: Boat registration numbers (from Certificates of Number) must be displayed in plain, vertical block letters at least three inches high on the front half of the boat. Depending on your state, you must also put a state tax sticker before or after the registration number. It would be best to place the sticker no more than six inches from the registration number, and you may place no other letters or numbers nearby.
US COAST GUARD BOAT DOCUMENTATION
Boat documentation through the US Coast Guard is the second method of registration for motorized boats. This enables easier commerce between the states and validates a boat’s nationality internationally. A recreational boat that measures at least five net tons and is fully owned by a US citizen is eligible for documentation.
Boat documentation also allows boats to engage in restricted trades. However, there are no exemptions from taxation or equipment carriage regulations for these documented boats. Documented boats must pay a registration fee and display a state validation sticker. For a complete understanding of requirements, check with your state.
Documented boats must carry their Certificate of Documentation and any accompanying papers at all times. A Certificate of Documentation is only legal if:
NOTE: On the exterior hull of the boat (usually on the stern), the name of the documented boat and its hailing port must be inscribed together. Display letters should be easily readable and at least four inches tall.