The Boating Guy answers the question: Do I need to register my boat?

Hello, this is Keith, the boating guy. One of the questions I hear is do I need to register my boat, and if so, how do I do it?

Well, federal guidelines require that all engine equipped boats operating within the U.S. waters to be registered in the state of principal use. Also, federal requirements require that boats must display registration numbers. These numbers must either be painted or permanently attached to the front half of the boat. Also, validation number stickers must be placed within 6 inches of the registration number.

In addition to federal requirements, most states have their own requirements. Be sure to check with your state.

Not every state’s DMV handles boats. In some states, the park division or the fish and game departments oversee boater registration. You can find links to your states requirements right here at

Registration is usually renewed every year or two. Registration numbers consist of a two letter state code and a combination of numbers and letters after that two letter state code. Registration aids in identifying lost or stolen boats. An estimated 12 million boats are registered in the United States. A little trivia for you: Florida, Michigan and California are the three states with the most registered boaters – almost a million a piece in each of those states.

Good luck boating, and hope to see you out in the water!

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