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The Procedures of Boat Registration

Updated on February 8, 2010

 Many people don’t realize at first that, just like with a car or truck or motorcycle, you have to get a boat registered at the DMV.  This is because, just like those types of vehicles, boats can be dangerous and the state wants to know what boats are on its waters.  And just like cars and trucks and motorcycle, boats must go through the registration process as well.  Unfortunately, many people aren’t aware of this and end up paying stiff fines when they take their boat out and get caught boating without valid registration.

 When it comes to boats, there are two types, non-powered and powered; only one of these types has to be registered by law.  Powered boats are boats that have any kind of power source at all – whether it’s a legitimate power system or even just a small auxiliary power system.  Any powered boat that is to be used in “water of the state” must be registered; water of the state is defined as any rivers, lakes or streams, regardless of size, and all of the salt water off the coast until you get 3 miles off.  In other words, if you plan to use your boat anywhere, it has to be registered with the DMV of that state or your home state by law.

 And in fact, boat registration is not very difficult or expensive, especially when you consider what goes into registering some other types of vehicles like motorcycle or large trucks.  For powered boats – which is what nearly all boats being registered are – the fee is only $24.00.  For non-powered boats, which haven’t been required to be registered since June of 2004, the fee is only $10 and is entirely voluntary.  However, always remember that if you choose to remove your boat’s power source, you cannot obtain a refund for your registration fee; and if you add a power source to a boat, you must immediately register the change and pay the DMV’s $24.00 registration fee if you intend to use it.

 The boat registration process is actually very simple to complete.  First, you have to complete the DMV’s boat registration application paperwork, which is available either directly from the office or from their website; all you have to do is print it out.  Then, you must make sure you have your boat’s bill or sale or its invoice as well as the registration fee ready.  Then you simply take all the paperwork down to the DMV and register the boat.


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