Registration And Numbering

Chris Riley by Chris Riley Updated on June 28, 2020. In nauticalknowhow

Chapter IV – Legal Requirements

Section 1 – Registration

Legal Requirements

Registration And Numbering

All motorized vessels must be registered and, depending upon State requirements, titled when operating on state waters. If a vessel does not have a motor it may still have to be registered depending on the State. Each state registration and titling requirements may differ. You should consult the State in which you are registering your boat for specific information.

Registering your boat means applying for and getting a certificate of number and the number itself. The registration number is actually a combination of letters and numbers normally beginning with the abbreviation of the State in which the boat is registered. The certificate of number is small and must be on the vessel whenever it is being used. A validation decal is required to be placed along side the numbers on the port side of the vessel. Some states require decals on both port and starboard side. This decal is renewed annually.

boating safety course boat numbers

Proper display of boat numbers

  • The figures are read from left to right.
  • They must be displayed on the forward half of each side of the bow of the boat.
  • Numbers must be in bold, block letters of good proportion.
  • Numbers must be not less than three inches high.
  • They must be of contrasting color to the boat hull or background.
  • They must be as high above the waterline as practical.
  • No number other than the number assigned can be displayed on the forward half of the vessel.
  • Letters must be separated from numbers by spaces or hyphens.
  • The validation decal must be displayed within six inches of the number.

Some vessels which are at least five net tons in size and owned by an American citizen can be registered with the U. S. Coast Guard. These vessels are “documented”.




1 Comment

  • Jay Appel on May 25, 2020

    I purchased a used West Marine Model 11985505
    The HIN plate is missing from the transom.
    I want to put a 2.2hp engine and need to register it.
    Please advise.


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