Whether you have a brand new boat, or you're refitting the old vessel that's been in a storage shed for years, one of the first (and most important steps) a boater should take is to make sure the boat has an up-to-date registration.
Why? Well, for starters, it's a federal requirement that all motorized boats operating within United States waters be registered within the state where they are primarily used. To operate within the rules, your boat should be registered… it's just that simple.
Exactly how one goes about registering their boat varies from state to state. In some states, for example, your department of motor vehicles oversees boat registration. In others, registration falls under the direction of the state's parks and recreation agency, fish and wildlife department, or division of natural resources. The best tool to help you learn exactly what steps you need to take to register your boat, and with which agency to do so, can be found by clicking this link here.
By visiting that page and clicking on the state where you want to register your boat, you'll learn exactly what steps you need to take, and all the state-specific variables that go along with the registration (e.g., how long the registration is valid, how much it costs, and so forth). One consistent feature on the bow of every properly registered boat is an easily recognized registration number (a two-letter state code, followed by a series of numbers), as well as a validation sticker. Operating a boat without a registration number and validation puts you at risk of being fined – an expense that's bound to be more than the simple up-front registration fee.
It's important to note that revenues collected from millions of boat registrations go toward supporting important programs like fish and wildlife habitat protection, as well as boating infrastructure. These programs benefit all people who enjoy the recreational pleasures of America's waters. The registration also is critical in helping authorities track down boats that are lost or stolen.
If you've let your boat's registration lapse, you're not alone. It's not too late to get it done! In fact, June 4-12 is National Fishing and Boating Week–the perfect target for everyone having their boats registered. A national celebration of fishing and boating coordinated by the Recreational Boating & Fishing Foundation, National Fishing and Boating Week coincides with many states' free fishing days, as well as plenty of events that promote the enjoyment of being on the water. So get registered, take part, and have fun!
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