Boat Registration Renewal Season

By Tom Keer

May 10, 2017

If you haven't registered your boat then now is the time to do it.  And if you've never registered a new or used boat before then here's how.

It's boating season, and that means that all motorized boats must be registered.  If you've registered your boat then all you need to do is be sure your registration is current.  Although the process varies by state, it's pretty simple to follow.

•    Your boat registration numbers will remain the same.  There is no need to remove your boat registration decals.

•    Most boat registrations are for two years.   DMV's send boat owners renewal reminders by mail usually one month prior to the expiration date.  

•    All that is required of boat owners is that they must complete the form, include a check to cover appropriate fees, and return by mail.  After the DMV processes the boat registration they will send a new registration form and validation decal to the boat owner.  You can also renew your registration online.  

•    The validation decal must be placed on the hull of the boat.  Most boaters simply place the decal on top of the expired one.  If you prefer to remove last year's sticker then be sure you place the new sticker within six inches of the last of your boat registration numbers. 

•    The registration must be onboard the boat when it is being operated.

•    Penalties for operating boats with lapsed registrations can be stiff and may result in fines up to $1,000 and the possibility of jail time.  You can buy a lot of fishing tackle for a grand plus legal fees so renew your boat registration today.

In the event that you missed the mailed copy of your boat registration renewal then all is not lost.  Simply go online to your specific state and complete the process.   You can also conduct your business in person at the registry.  In the event that your boat registration has been expired for a long time then you must visit the registry in person.  The general expiration time-frame that requires an in-person visit is 48 months.

If you haven't gotten around to it yet, then now is the time for your boat registration renewal.  
Tom Keer
Tom Keer
Tom Keer is an award-winning writer who lives on Cape Cod, Massachusetts.  He is a columnist for the Upland Almanac, a Contributing Writer for Covey Rise magazine, a Contributing Editor for both Fly Rod and Reel and Fly Fish America, and a blogger for the Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation’s Take Me Fishing program.  Keer writes regularly for over a dozen outdoor magazines on topics related to fishing, hunting, boating, and other outdoor pursuits.  When they are not fishing, Keer and his family hunt upland birds over their three English setters.  His first book, a Fly Fishers Guide to the New England Coast was released in January 2011.  Visit him at or at