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Vermont Boating Regulations

Chris Riley by Chris Riley Updated on December 22, 2021. In nauticalknowhow

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Vermont
Boating Regulations


This section contains information on Vermont Boating Regulations that are in addition to the Federal Requirements covered in the 
Basic Boating CourseWhen it comes to Vermont boat registration as well as getting your Vermont boat license and Vermont boating laws, here’s what you need to know.

Age Restrictions:

Persons less than 16 years of age shall not operate a Personal Watercraft.

Persons less than 12 years of age are restricted to motorboats of 6 hp or less.

Anyone born after January 1, 1974 must successfully complete an approved boating safety course prior to operating any motorized vessel. This online Basic Boating Safety Course meets this requirement.

Personal Flotation Devices:

Persons less than 12 years must wear an approved Type I, II, III or V PFD when above decks and underway.


Persons less than 16 years of age must wear a Type I, II, or III on a sailboard.


PWC operators and passengers must wear an approved Type I, II, or III PFD.

Effective May 1, 1995, all recreational boats, canoes and kayaks less than 16’ in length must carry a type I, II or III wearable PFD for each person on board.

Required PFDs must be readily accessible.

If your recreational boat is less than 16’ in length, or a canoe or kayak, for each person on board, there must be one U.S. Coast Guard approved Type I, II, or III wearable P.F.D. on board.

If the recreational boat is 16’ or more in length, except a canoe or kayak, for each person aboard, there must be a U.S. Coast Guard Approved Type I, II, or III P.F.D. on board. In addition, there must be at least one Type IV P.F.D. on board. (Throwable)

Persons less than 12 years of age, must wear a Type I, II, or III U.S. Coast Guard approved P.F.D. while on board a vessel, while underway and the person is on an open deck.

Federal Requirements for Carriage of PFDs.

  1. Coast Guard regulations in Part 17 of Title 33, Code of Federal Regulations require personal flotation devices in the following three situations:

(1) No person may use a recreational boat less than 16 feet in length or a canoe or kayak unless at least one personal flotation device (PFD) of the following types is on board for each person: (1) Type I PFD, (2) Type II PFD, or (3) Type III PFD.

(2) No person may use a recreational boat 16 feet or more in length, except a canoe or kayak, unless at least one personal flotation device of the following types is on board for each person: (1) Type I PFD, (2) Type II PFD, or (3) Type III PFD.

(3) No person may use a recreational boat 16 feet or more in length, except a canoe or kayak, unless at least one Type IV PFD is on board in addition to the PFDs required in paragraph (2).

  1. A Type V PFD may be carried in lieu of any PFD required if that Type V PFD is approved for the activity in which the recreational boat is being used. A Type V Hybrid must be worn to be accepted.

Speed Limits:

Within 200 feet of shore, dock, swim area, person in water and other vessels or anchorage, speed must be less than 5 miles per hour and must not create a wake.

Motorized Vessels:

All engines must be muffled in order to reduce operating noise level to not more than 82 decibels on the A scale at 50 feet.

Navigation Rules:

United States Coast Guard inland navigation rules are adopted for Lake Champlain, Lake Memphremagog and Wallace Pond in Canaan.

Snorkeling & Diving:

Motorized vessels must maintain a distance of at least 200 feet of a diver down flag. The diver down flag (red with white diagonal stripe) is required.

Personal Watercraft:

Operation of a personal watercraft is prohibited between one-half hour after sunset and one-half hour before sunrise.

PWC operators and passengers must wear an approved Type I, II, or III PFD.

No person less than 16 years of age shall operate a PWC.

Water Skiing:

An observer (who is not the boat operator) is required. The observer must be at least 12 years of age.

Water skiers must remain at least 100 feet away from a person in the water or light craft.

Marine Sanitation Devices:

In no discharge zones a holding tank is required. No discharge capability allowed, openings sealed, overboard lines and Y valves removed.

Residential use of overnight sleeping vessels is prohibited on waters lacking sanitary waste pumpout facilities.

Accident Reporting:

Any accident involving personal injury or damage greater than $100 must be reported within 36 hours. Report accidents to Vermont State Police.

Boating While Intoxicated:

Is a criminal offense punishable by fine, imprisonment and loss of privilege to operate. The fine for a first offense is not less than $200.00 nor more than $750.00; for a second or subsequent offenses, not less than $250.00 nor more than $1,000.00.

Effective July 1, 1997 no person under the age of 21 shall operate, attempt to operate or have physical control of a vessel on Vermont waters when the person’s blood alcohol concentration is 0.02 or more.

By operating on Vermont waterways, you are deemed to have given consent to be tested for alcohol if arrested for operating under the influence.

Registration/Documentation:

If your boat is not Vermont registered, a validation sticker is required if it is in Vermont waters between 30 and 90 days per year. A Vermont registration is required if your boat is in Vermont waters more than 90 days per year.

The numbers and stickers are placed on both port and starboard sides, with the sticker fore of the numbers.

Documented vessels require a Vermont validation sticker if in Vermont waters 30 or more days per year.

DOCUMENTS

Let’s take a look at the documents you’ll need to keep and use a boat in Vermont.

Who Must Register?

Any boat owner who operates a boat with a motor attached on the waters of this state. Registered owners may be any age.

Who must Obtain a Validation Sticker?

Any non-Vermont registered vessel owner who uses their vessel in Vermont waters for 30 days or more.

Where Can I Register My Boat or Obtain a Validation Sticker?

Boats can be registered by sending an application with the correct fees to the Department of Motor Vehicles, 120 State Street, Montpelier, Vermont 05603- 0001.

Forms are available at any Motor Vehicle office or State Police office.

Boats can also be registered by going to the Department of Motor Vehicles in Montpelier.

Boats purchased from a dealer can be registered by the dealer. You will pay the fees required to the dealer and the dealer will issue a temporary registration to you which will be valid for 30 days. You will receive a permanent registration from the department in the mail.

What Do I Need to Register a Boat?

New registration

  1. Application for Motorboat Registration.
    2. Vermont Sales & Use Tax Return or proof that Vermont Sales and Use Tax has been paid, or proof of tax paid in another state.
    3. Proper fees.
    4. Title or Manufacturer’s Certificate of Origin (MCO) , if required.

Transfer registration

  1. Application for Motorboat Registration
    2. Vermont Sales & Use Tax Return or proof that Vermont Sales and Use Tax has been paid, or proof of tax paid in another state.
    3. Previous registration certificate showing to whom your old boat was sold or assigned.
    4. Title or MCO, if required.

What Do I Need to Obtain a Validation Sticker?

  1. Application for vessel validation.
    2. Proof of valid registration or documentation from another state or province.
    3. Vermont Sales & Use Tax Return or proof that Vermont Sales and Use Tax has been paid, or proof of tax paid in another state.
    4. Proper fees.

How Much Does it Cost to Register a Motorboat?

  • Boats less than 16 feet in length $ 15.00
  • From 16 feet to less than 26 feet $ 25.00
  • From 26 feet to less than 40 feet $ 50.00
  • 40 feet and over $110.00
  • Transfer fee $ 5.00
  • Duplicate Registration Certificate $ 2.00
  • Title fee $ 5.00
  • Lien fee $ 3.00
  • Duplicate Title $ 5.00

How Much Does it Cost to Obtain a Validation Sticker?

  • Boats less than 16 feet in length $ 10.00
  • From 16 feet to less than 26 feet $ 20.00
  • From 26 feet to less than 40 feet $ 40.00
  • 40 feet and over $100.00

Where Do I Put The Number?

The numbers must be displayed on both sides of the bow of your boat. They must be not less than 3 inches in height and of a color that will contrast with the color of your boat. Example, black on white. The same number will remain with your craft from year to year unless it is allowed to lapse by failure to renew.

Where Do I Put The Validation Sticker?

The sticker must be displayed on or about the forward half of the vessel.

Where Do I Carry My Registration Certificate?

The certificate must be on the craft when in operation. We suggest a waterproof container attached to the vessel.

I Live out of State and My Boat Is Already Registered in My Home State.

You may operate in Vermont for a period of 90 consecutive days if your home state grants like privileges to Vermont boaters.

You must obtain a validation sticker if your vessel is used in Vermont waters for 30 days or more even if it is currently registered in some other state or province. This validation sticker will be valid through December 31 each year.

I Sold My Boat. What Do I Need to Do?

Give the new owner a bill of sale which completely describes the boat. This bill of sale must include the hull identification number (HIN).

Complete the reverse side of your current boat registration and send it to the Department of Motor Vehicles, 120 State Street, Montpelier, Vermont 05603-0001 within 15 days. If you are buying another boat, read the next section.

If your vessel has or should have a validation sticker affixed to it you must notify the commissioner within 30 days.

Can I Transfer My Registration to a New Boat?

Registration of a motorboat ends when the owner transfers title thereto to another. The former owner shall immediately return to the Commissioner of Motor Vehicles the registration certificate previously assigned to the transferred motorboat. The date of the sale and the name and address of the new owner must be completed on the back of the registration certificate. If the new owner wishes to retain the registration number on the motorboat purchased, the new owner must complete a new application, Vermont Sales & Use Tax Return and send, with the correct fees, to the Department of Motor Vehicles, 120 State Street, Montpelier, Vermont 05603-0001.

When a person transfers the ownership of a registered motorboat to another, files a new application, a Vermont Sales & Use Tax Return and pays a transfer fee of $5.00 plus any additional fee for change in class, such person may have the new motorboat registered for the remainder of the current registration year. EXAMPLE: A person has a Class “A” boat and trades for a Class “1” boat, the fee difference is $10.00 plus a $5.00 transfer fee.

The validation sticker is not transferable to a new vessel, and the new owner must make application for another validation sticker.

Can I Register a Motorboat for less than One Year?

No. All motorboat registrations shall be void one year from the first day of the month of issue. The fee required is not prorated for any portion of a registration year.

Do I Have to Register My Rowboat, Canoe or Sailboard (Boat)?

If you attach any type of motor to the vessel, registration is required.

A validation sticker is required on all vessels registered or documented in any other state or province.

Where Can I Get the Actual Numbers Assigned by the Department of Motor Vehicles Put on the Boat?

Boat dealers and hardware stores are the common places where these numbers can be bought.

I Lost My Registration Certificate

To replace a lost motorboat registration certificate, pick up an Application for Replacement of Snowmobile/Motorboat Registration form from any Department of Motor Vehicles office. Mail the completed form and $2.00 fee to the Department of Motor Vehicles.

Is Proof of Insurance Required on My Motorboat?

No. It is recommended that you carry insurance to protect yourself and your motorboat in case of an accident or loss of the vessel.

Who must Obtain Title to Vessels?

Any vessel registered in Vermont that is:

  • 16 feet or more in length; and
  • manufactured as a 1989 model year or newer, and
  • propelled by a motor of more than 10 horsepower.

Where Can I Obtain a Title to My Vessel?

The application to obtain title to your vessel is a part of the same form used to register the vessel. It must be properly completed and brought or submitted to the Department of Motor Vehicles, 120 State Street, Montpelier, VT 05603-0001. Forms are available at any Motor Vehicle or State Police office.

Vessels purchased from a dealer can be titled by the dealer. You will pay the fees required to the dealer and the dealer will forward the application to the Department.

What Do I Need in Order to Obtain a Title to My Vessel?

New Vessels

  1. Registration and title application, properly completed.
    2. Manufacturer’s statement of origin, properly assigned.
    3. Proper fees.

Vessels Previously Registered And/or Titled

  1. Registration and title application.
    2. Previous title, properly assigned or, if none had been issued, the last valid registration certificate for that vessel or a certified copy.
    3. Visual verification of the (HIN) Hull Identification Number by a certified law enforcement officer.
    4. Proper fees.

Homemade Vessel

  1. Application for registration and title.
    2. Manufacturer’s Certificate of Origin to a Homemade Vessel (available at Department of Motor Vehicles, Montpelier).
    3. Application for assignment of VT (HIN) Hull Identification Number to a vessel.
    4. Proper fees.

How Much Does the Title Cost?

  • The title fee is $5.00.
  • There is a lien fee of $3.00 for each lienholder.
  • Duplicate Title fee of $5.00.

Where Should I Keep the Title?

If there is a lien on the vessel the title will be mailed directly to the lienholder until the lien is repaid. If there is no lien the Department will mail the title directly to the owner of the vessel. This is an important document that shows ownership and should be kept in a secure location. You should not leave your title in the vessel.

I Sold My Vessel. What Do I Need to Do with the Title?

Since the title is the document that shows proof of ownership, each owner shown on the front of the title should properly sign the back of the title selling it to the new owner.

I Lost My Title, How Do I Obtain a Duplicate?

You can obtain a duplicate title by completing an application for duplicate title (available at the Department of Motor Vehicles offices and at the State Police offices) and submitting to the Department of Motor Vehicles office in Montpelier.

How Do I Obtain a (HIN) Hull Identification Number If the Original Number Is Lost or If it Is a Homemade Vessel?

You can obtain a HIN by properly completing an application for Vermont assigned hull identification number (available at the Department of Motor Vehicles offices or State Police offices) , and submitting it to the Department of Motor Vehicles office in Montpelier. If it is a non-title vessel or a vessel valued at less than $1,000, a number will be assigned and mailed to you to be attached by you. If it is a vessel requiring title or a vessel valued at $1,000 or more, a Motor Vehicle Inspector will attach the HIN.

About Chris

Outdoors, I’m in my element, especially in the water. I know the importance of being geared up for anything. I do the deep digital dive, researching gear, boats and knowhow and love keeping my readership at the helm of their passions.

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8 Comments

  • Kris Hercules on May 14, 2020

    Thank you for this information. Is this the most up-to-date publication for Lake Champlain?

    Reply

  • Concerned vermonter on June 9, 2020

    Mumba boats used for surfing and carry large balusters their wakes are eroding lake bomoseen shorelines. If homeowners are limited to use of lake front these boats Should be on lake Champlain. Bomoseen is too little of a lake to handle these waves

    Reply

  • Tracey Fillie on June 18, 2020

    Can you tell me where on lake Champlain is it safe to water tube? Also when I fall off the tube, how do other boaters know I am in the water? I’m afraid of getting run over!

    Reply

  • Katie on June 23, 2020

    If I am paddleboarding in VT am I required to have a life jacket with me (I am over the age of 16)? Or is the ankle tie enough to prove I have a PFD?

    Reply

    • Kris Hercules on September 3, 2020

      – IT IS A FEDRAL/STATE LAW TO HAVE A LIFEJACKET W/ WHISTLE. UNLESS YOU ARE IN A MARKED SWIM ZONE.

      Reply

    • Safford on July 25, 2021

      You MUST have or wear a PFD. The board is not a PFD.

      Reply

  • MARK LACKEY on July 26, 2020

    does a boat with an electric trolling motor need to be registered in vt?

    Reply

  • Bill Robel on August 10, 2020

    Fishing Lake Champlain on a 7 day out of state license, what is the requirement for bringing you own boat.Any special stickers or permits?
    20 foot 125hp.
    Any COVID restrictions for being a Maryland resident.
    Is there a quarantine?

    Reply

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