[Guide] Inflatable sports boat registration in all US states 2

It is necessary for boat owners to register their boats to legally operate them within a state. However,  every state has different conditions and requirements for boat registration. Specifications on the type of watercraft that needs to be registered vary from state to state as well.

Do I need to register my inflatable boat?

Technically, yes.

However, some states do not require inflatable boats to be registered or to bear registration numbers. Policies and rules vary in each state, so it’s best to check the laws concerning boat registration in the state that you live in to know if you need to register your inflatable watercraft.

You will find links to all state laws below.

What do I need to register my boat?

To register your boat, you will have to fill out a registration form and submit 3 documents that prove your ownership over the watercraft.

  1. Invoice
  2. Manufacturer’s statement of origin
  3. Bill of sale

You will also be charged a fee to register your watercraft; the fee varies from state to state.

How to Affix Registration Numbers to my Boat

Some states agree to have the registration numbers painted on the boat.

However, the easiest way of applying your registration number to your boat is through the use of decals and stickers.

I bought this sticker registration kit on Amazon for my Mariner 4, because they could be applied directly onto the rubber.

Registration Sticker Kit

Sticker Registration Kit

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Meets USCG requirements

Quick and easy

This sticker kit is a quick way to meet USCG guidelines to show your vessels ID number. It has four sets of A-Z letters and four sets of 0-9 numerals

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It does the job well. The stickers haven’t faded or peeled off, so no complaints. Just measure out two tape lines before putting them on, so your registration number will be straight in the end.

Painted or plastered on, these are the rules you must adhere to regarding the visibility of the registration number:

  • It must be displayed on both sides of the forward half of the boat
  • It must be visible from 100 ft away, so their color needs to contrast the color of the boat.
  • Characters need to be uniform block letters at least 3 inches in height. Decorative fonts will not be accepted.
  • Characters should only be separated by hyphens or spaces.

You must also keep in mind that displayed registration numbers should always be maintained in a considerably good condition.

Rules on Registering Inflatable Boats in Your State

Each US state has separate regulations on registering SIBs in their state. Here is a guide toi help you navigate these waters.

Alabama

As of Section 33-5-9 of the 2016 Alabama Code, every vessel on the waters of the state of Alabama is required to be registered and numbered. It is also required for registered boats to display their registration numbers on both sides of the boat.

Complete information about requirements and conditions can be found in Sections 33-5-9 to 33-5-36 of the 2016 Alabama Code. You can also visit the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources website for more information.

Alaska

According to Section 05.25.055 of the 2016 Alaska Statutes, a person may not operate a boat on water of the state unless a valid certificate of number has been awarded by the Department of Administration to the boat and the identification number and any required validation decals are properly displayed on the boat.

Boats that are exempt from this law are the following:

  1. Boats that are not a barge, and are operated in the state for a period not exceeding 90 consecutive days. This includes foreign boats;
  2. Boats that currently have a valid certificate of number issued by another state with a federally approved numbering system;
  3. Non Motorized boats, both handmade and umiaq boats with a walrus or seal skin covering.

For more information about boat registration, visit the Alaska DMV website.

Arizona

Boating regulations and laws can be found in Title 5-321 of the 2016 Arizona Statutes.  Like most states, Arizona requires the registration of all motorized watercraft. An exemption is given to documented watercraft under the U.S. Coast Guard.

For a complete guide to boat registration in the state of Arizona, visit the website of Arizona Game and Fish Department.

Arkansas

As per Section 27-101-301 of the Arkansas Code, all watercraft, even ones that are propelled with a sail or a motor, are required to register and display registration number on both sides of the boat. Watercraft and vessels that are documented under U.S. Coast Guard are also required to register with the state, but do not need to display registration number.

California

Registration laws in the state of California can be found in Title 13 § 190.00 of the California Code of Regulations. According to the state law, all watercraft must be registered with the state, regardless of being used on private lakes and waterways.

However, watercraft that are solely propelled with oars, non motorized sailboats that are less than 8 ft in length, and surfboards propelled by a sail with a mast that has to be held by the user are not required to register.

For more information about boat registration in the state of California, you can visit the California Division of Boating and Waterways website.

Colorado

As per Section 33-13-103 of the Colorado Revised Statutes, all watercraft propelled by motor and sailboats should be registered. They are also required to display numbers.

However, exceptions are given to the following watercraft:

  1. Non motorized boats such as canoes and kayaks, these should display the owner’s name and address though;
  2. Vessels that are registered in another state, given that it has been in Colorado for a period not exceeding 60 consecutive days;
  3. Foreign vessels that are temporarily using the waters within the state’s boundaries.

Connecticut

Connecticut laws regarding boat registration are outlined in Sections 15-142 and 15-144 in the Connecticut Revised Statutes. The law states that registration is necessary for all watercraft on the waters within the state of Connecticut, with an exemption to non motorized boats are less than 19 ½ feet in length and watercraft that are propelled solely by oars or paddles.

Detailed information about the entire boat registration process can be seen on the Connecticut DMV website.

Delaware

Laws and conditions about boat registration in Delaware can be found  in Title 23 Chapter 21 of the Delaware Code. All boats and vessels are required to register and display their numbers on the forward half of the boat. Exemptions will only be granted to vessels that are owned by the state and foreign vessels temporarily using the waters within the state’s boundaries.

A summarized guide for boat registration in Delaware can be viewed on the Delaware Division of Fish and Wildlife website.

Florida

Regulations on boat registration in the state of Florida can be found in Section 328.48 of the 2016 Florida Statutes. All watercraft, except non motorized vessels that are less than 16 ft in length such as canoes, kayaks, and racing shells and vessels that are used and operated on private lakes and waterways, shall be required to register and display registration number.

Watercraft documented under the U.S. Coast Guard are also required to obtain a registration number in Florida, but is not required to display it. However, a validation decal must be displayed on the port side of the vessel along with other details such as boat name and hailing port designation.

A detailed guide on boat registration is available on the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission website.

Georgia

According to § 52-7 of the 2015 Georgia Code, every motorized vessel is required to register with the state, except the following:

  1. Non-motorized vessels;
  2. Sailboats that are less than 12 ft in length;
  3. Any vessel that is used exclusively for racing or on private ponds and lakes;
  4. Vessels documented with the U.S. Coast Guard; and
  5. Foreign vessels temporarily using the waters within the state’s boundaries.

Like most states, Georgia also requires display of the registration number of the boat.

For more information regarding boat registration in the state of Georgia, visit the state’s Department of Natural Resources’ website.

Hawaii

The state of Hawaii requires all motorized, undocumented watercraft to be registered with the state. Exemptions are granted  to the following:

  1. Manually propelled  vessels;
  2. Sail propelled vessels that are only 8 ft in length or less;
  3. Vessels documented with the U.S. Coast Guard; and
  4. Foreign vessels temporarily using the waters within the state’s boundaries not exceeding 60 consecutive days.

Hawaii boat registration requirements and regulations are outlined in the Division of Boating and Ocean Recreation website.

Idaho

Idaho boat registration regulations can be found in the 2016 Idaho Statutes. Sections 67-7008 and 67-7009 outlines that all motorized vehicles are to be registered and numbered, with the exemption of:

  1. Non-motorized boats, float tubes, lifeboats of large vessels;
  2. Watercraft that is owned and operated by the United States;
  3. Foreign vessels using the waters within the state for no more than 61 days.

A detailed information about Idaho boat registration can be viewed on the Idaho Parks and Recreation website.

Illinois

Illinois boating registration and laws are set forth in the Illinois Boat Registration and Safety Act. Found in 625 Illinois Compiled Statutes 45, the law states that all watercraft, except non-motorized vessels on the waters within the state’s jurisdiction should be numbered.  Even though exempted from registration, non-motorized watercraft are required to have a water usage stamp to be allowed to operate on the waters of the state.

For a more detailed guide on the boat registration process in the state of Illinois, you can visit the Illinois Department of Natural Resources website.

Indiana

According to Section 9-31-3 of the 2016 Indiana Code, all watercraft, including sailboats and motorboats, are required to register with the state. Only non-motorized boats, canoes, rowboats, paddle boats are exempted from the need to register.

The state of Indiana also grants exemptions on vessels under the following conditions:

  1. Vessel is from another country, which is temporarily using the waters of the state;
  2. Watercraft is registered in another state and has been in the boundaries of Indiana for less than 60 consecutive days;
  3. Vessel is moored in the Indiana portion of Lake Michigan less than 180 consecutive days.

Boat registration information and procedure can be found on the website of Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles.

Iowa

Under Section 571-38 of the 2016 Iowa Administrative Code, the state require registration of all watercrafts, except for inflatable vessels with a length of 7 ft or less and manually propelled canoes and kayaks measuring 13 ft in length or less.

For additional information, you can visit the Iowa Department of Natural Resources website.

Kansas

As per Section 32-11 of the 2014 Kansas Statutes, the state requires all vessels to be numbered. The sections, however, do not specify which type of boats are required to register. It only highlights the importance of displaying registration number.

For more information, feel free to visit the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks, and Tourism website.

Kentucky

The state of Kentucky requires all vessels and watercraft to be registered and numbered, except for non motorized watercraft and ships’ lifeboats, according to Chapter 235 of the 2016 Kentucky Revised Statutes. All registrations should go through the county clerk’s office.

Additional information about Kentucky boat registration can be viewed on the Kentucky Department of FIsh and Wildlife Resources website.

Louisiana

Outlined in the §851.20 of the Louisiana Revised Statutes, owners of watercraft is required to display or attach registration number on each side of the bow of the motorboat or sailboat as prescribed by the state.

The statutes, however, do not specify any limitations on the type of boats to be registered. For more information, you can visit the website of Louisiana’s Department of Wildlife and Fisheries.

Maine

The state requires all vessels, regardless of the size, to be registered with the state, except:

  1. Non motorized canoes and kayaks;
  2. Vessels owned and operated by the U.S. Government;
  3. Watercraft is registered in another state and has been in the boundaries of Maine for less than 60 consecutive days;
  4. Foreign vessels using the waters within the state for no more than 60 days.
  5. Watercraft used exclusively for racing purposes, but must display a valid boat number issued by the racing association.

Maine boat registration requirements and procedures are listed on the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries & Wildlife website.

Maryland

Maryland boat registration laws are set forth in  §8–712 of the 2016 Code of Maryland. It states that the state shall require all motorized vessel to display registration numbers, with an exception to:

  1. Vessels documented with the U.S. Coast Guard;
  2. Manual and sail propelled vessels; and
  3. Lifeboats of ships.

For more information about boat registration in the state of Maryland, visit the Maryland Department of Natural Resources website or view this quick guide about boat registration.

Massachusetts

Chapter 90B Section 3 of the Massachusetts General Laws contain the requirements and regulations regarding boat registration in the state. The law states that every motorized vessel must display registration numbers, except for the following:

  1. Non motorized canoes and kayaks;
  2. Watercraft is registered in another state and has been in the boundaries of the commonwealth for less than 60 consecutive days;
  3. Foreign vessels using the waters within the commonwealth temporarily.

Michigan

Michigan boat registration laws can be found in Section 324.80124 of the Michigan Compiled Laws. It states that registration and numbering are required for all vessels that are propelled with a motor. In addition to that, vessels that are 16 feet or longer, even if manually propelled, are  obliged to be registered and numbered as well.

For more details, you can visit the Michigan Department of State website.

Minnesota

Like other states, Minnesota also requires the display of registration numbers of all motorized vessels in accordance to Section 86B.301 of the 2016 Minnesota Statutes; exemptions are only granted to the following:

  1. Non motorized vessels that are 10 ft in length or less;
  2. Watercraft is registered in another state and has been in the boundaries of Minnesota for less than 61 consecutive days;
  3. Rice boats during harvest season, and waterfowl boats during hunting season;
  4. Vessels that have been issued valid marine documents by the U.S. government or registered to the U.S. Coast Guard;
  5. Vessels with a valid license from a federally recognized Indian tribe.

More details on boating laws in this state can be found on the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources website.

Mississippi

Mississippi laws and regulations on boat registration are set forth in Title 59 Chapter 21 of the 2015 Mississippi Code. The state requires that all motorized vessels and sailboats alike are required to be registered and numbered, with the exemption of watercraft registered with the U.S. Coast Guard and vessels used exclusively for racing.

Additional details are available in the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks website.

Missouri

Boat registration policies in the state of Missouri are all laid out in Section 10-23.270 of the 2-17 Missouri Code of State Regulations. This section highlights the requirement of displaying the registration number on watercraft and vessels.

For further information about the requirement and process involved in boat registration in the state of Missouri, visit the Missouri Department of Revenue website.

Montana

According to Section 23-2-512 of the 2015 Montana Code Annotated, registration numbers, referred to in the text as identifying numbers, must be displayed on all motorized watercraft that are 12 ft in length or longer.

For more information about policies in boat registration in Montana, feel free to visit its Department of Fish, Wildlife & Parks website.

Nebraska

Detailed in Section 37-1211 of the Nebraska Revised Statutes, all watercraft that are propelled by a motor or mechanical device on public or private waters within the state  must display their registration number on both sides of the vessel. This law exempts boats that not powered by engines, may it be electric or gas.

Nevada

Section 488.965 of the 2015 Nevada Revised Statutes state that all motorized watercraft that operates on the waters within the state’s jurisdiction must bear their registration numbers. However, the law exempts the following:

  1. Non-motorized watercraft;
  2. Public vessels of the United States;
  3. Foreign vessels using the waters within territory of Nevada temporarily.

A detailed guide of boat registration in the state of Nevada is available on the Nevada Department of Wildlife website.

New Hampshire

Outlined in Chapter 270-E of the New Hampshire Statutes, registration vessels with an inboard or outboard motor is required to register with the state, except for the following:

  1. Non motorized sailboats that are under 12  ft in length;
  2. Non motorized watercraft such as rowboats and canoes;
  3. Vessels owned by the United States Government;
  4. Watercraft is registered in another state and has been in the boundaries of the state for less than 30 days.

For more information about boat registration in New Hampshire, visit the New Hampshire Department of Motor Vehicles website.

New Jersey

Boat registration laws for New Jersey are laid out in Sections 12:7-34.38 and 12:7-34.39 of the 2016 New Jersey Revised Statutes. The law states that all motorized vessel that operates on the waters within the jurisdiction of New Jersey shall be required to display registration numbers.

New Mexico

According to Section 66-12 of the 2016 New Mexico Statutes, boats with the length of 10 ft or more are required to be registered with the state, so are boats that are propelled with a motor.

A more detailed guide can be found on New Mexico Energy, Minerals, and Natural Resources Department website.

New York

New York requires that all vessel, except for manually propelled watercraft and lifeboats, must register and bear their registration number. Vessels and watercraft that are registered with the U.S. Coast Guard has to register with the state as well. But instead of registration numbers, they are required to display their registration sticker.

Boat registration policies, requirements, and procedure are available on the New York DMV website.

North Carolina

North Carolina boat registration laws and requirements are laid out in Chapter 75A of the North Carolina General Statutes. It states that vessels that are propelled by a motor which uses public water, including jet skis and sailboats, that are more than 14 ft in length must bear registration numbers.

Additional information regarding boat registration policies in North Carolina can be viewed on the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission website.

North Dakota

As per Chapter 20.1-13 of the North Dakota Century Code, all motorized watercraft are required to register with North Dakota except the following:

  1. Ships’ lifeboats;
  2. Motorized vessels owned and operated by the U.S.;
  3. Foreign vessels that are temporarily using the waters within the state.

For a more detailed guide, visit the North Dakota Game and Fish Department website..

Ohio

Ohio boat registration laws are outlined in Sections 1547.53 and 1547.531 of the Ohio Revised Code, all vessels and watercraft that operate on the waters within the state must bear registration numbers, except for:

  1. Canoes, rowboats, and inflatable watercraft;
  2. Paddleboards, kiteboards, and float tubes;
  3. Vessels registered with the U.S. Coast Guard;
  4. Foreign vessels that are temporarily using the waters of the state;
  5. Ships’ lifeboats.

Note that canoes, rowboats, and inflatable watercraft are required to apply for alternative registration with the state.

Oklahoma

The state of Oklahoma require all watercraft that operated on the waters within the territory of Oklahoma to register with the state, except for:

  1. Non motorized watercraft such as canoes and kayaks;
  2. Paddle boats; and
  3. Foreign vessels that uses the waters within the state no more than 60 days in one calendar year.

Boat registration policies and requirements are available to be viewed on the Oklahoma Tax Commission website.

Oregon

Outlined in Chapter 830 of the 2015 Oregon Revised Statutes, all boats, excluding non-motorized watercraft, boats registered with the U.S. Coast Guard, and vessels marked as livery boats, are required to register with the state and display their registration numbers.

For more details  on boat registration, visit the Oregon State Marine Board website.

Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania boat registration regulations are laid out in § 93.5 of the Pennsylvania Code, which states that any motorized vessel, watercraft registered with the U.S. Coast Guard, and sailboats with motor for auxiliary must be registered and numbered.

Inflatable watercraft, canoes, and kayaks that are manually propelled are exempted from registration, as well as foreign vessels that are temporarily operating on the waters within the state for less than 60 consecutive days.

For more information on boat registration in Pennsylvania, visit the Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission website.

Rhode Island

Rhode Island boat registration policies and laws are outlined in § 46-22-4 and § 46-22-6 of the Rhode Island General Laws.  According to its regulations, all vessels are required to register with the state, except for:

  1. Canoes;
  2. Rowboats that are no more than 12 ft in length;
  3. Ships’ lifeboats;
  4. Ferries;
  5. Motorized vessels owned by the U.S. Government;
  6. Foreign watercraft that are temporarily using the waters within the state.

South Carolina

In accordance to Section 50-23-310 of the 2016 South Carolina Code of Laws, all motorized vessels and watercraft must register with the state, with the exemption of:

  1. Watercraft documented by the U.S. Coast Guard
  2. Wind surfers;
  3. Watercraft with outboard motors less than 5HP;
  4. Vessels owned by the U.S. Government;
  5. Ships’ lifeboats.

More information regarding boat registration in the South Carolina state  can be found on the  South Carolina Department of Natural Resources website.

South Dakota

Located in Chapter 32-3A of the South Dakota Codified Law, every motorized watercraft must bear their registration numbers; while, non motorized watercraft that are more than 12 ft in length will only be required to display validation stickers.

A detailed guide on boat registration for South Dakota can be viewed on the South Dakota Game, Fish & Parks website.

Tennessee

Policies and laws on boat registration for this state can be found in Section 69-9-206 of the 2015 Tennessee Code. Like most states, it requires registration of all vessels that are propelled by a motor or sail. Watercraft that do not meet this criteria don’t need to register with the state, but are required to display identification.

For more information regarding boat registration, visit the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency website.

Texas

In accordance to Section 31.021 of the 2015 Texas Statutes, all motorized vessels and sailboats that are 14 ft in length or bigger operating on the waters within the state of Texas must be registered and numbered.

A more detailed orientation of the policies and requirements regarding boat registration can be viewed on the Texas Parks & Wildlife website.

Utah

Boat registration laws for the state of Utah  are all laid out in Title 73-18-7 of the Utah Code, which states that al motorized watercraft, including motorized boats, canoes, sailboats, jet skis, and inflatable boats, are required to register with the state.

Complete information about boat registration is available on  the Utah State Parks and Utah DMV websites.

Vermont

Vermont boat registration rules and policies are found in Title 23 Chapter 29 of the Vermont Statutes, which states that all watercraft and vessels, except ships’ lifeboats, are required to be registered and numbered.

Vessels registered under New Hampshire policies, regarding operation on waters within Vermont are also exempted, but only on parts and impoundments of the Connecticut river.

For additional information about boat registration in Vermont, feel free to visit the Vermont Department of Motor Vehicles website.

Virginia

In accordance to Sections 29.1-703 and 29.1-710 of the 2016 Code of Virginia, all watercraft must be registered and numbered, except for:

  1. Non motorized watercraft like canoes, kayaks, and rafts;
  2. Vessels registered with the U.S. Coast Guard;
  3. Ships’ lifeboats;
  4. Foreign boats that are temporarily using the waters within the boundaries of the state;
  5. Vessels owned by the U.S. Government.

For information about registering your boat, you may visit the Virginia Department of Game & Inland Fisheries website.

Washington

Set forth in Sections 88.02.550 and 88.02.570 in the Revised Code of Washington, all sailboats and motorized vessels, with the exemption of vessels that are less than 16 ft in length and carry a motor with 10 HP or anything lower, are required to register with the state of Washington.

A complete guide to boat registration for the state is available on the Washington State Department of Licensing website.

West Virginia

West Virginia regulations regarding boat registrations are laid out in §20-7-12 and §20-7-14 of the West Virginia Code. The law states that all watercraft propelled by a motor, regardless if it’s powered by electricity, diesel, gas, or steam, must be registered in the state.

All registered vessels are also required to bear their registration numbers on both sides of the forward half of the bow.

For additional details regarding boat registration, visit the Synopsis of West Virginia Boating Rules and Regulations.

Wisconsin

Found in Section 30.523 of the 2016 Wisconsin Statutes, all watercraft that are propelled by a motor are required to be registered and numbered. However outlined in Section 30.51, conditions for exemptions which are as follows:

  1. Vessels that are manually propelled;
  2. Non motorized sailboats that are 12 ft in length or less;
  3. Vessels owned by the U.S. Government;
  4. Foreign watercraft that are temporarily using the waters within the state;
  5. Sailboards and lifeboats.

For more information regarding water sport boat registration in Wisconsin , visit the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources website.

Wyoming

In accordance to Sections 41-13-102 and 41-13-103 of the 2016 Wyoming Code, all motorized vessels are required to register in the state, except for:

  1. Non motorized watercraft;
  2. Foreign vessels that are temporarily operating on the waters within the state;
  3. Vessels and watercraft owned by the U.S. Government.

A complete guide on boat registration for the state of Wyoming can be viewed on the Wyoming Infographic Guide.

Are you new to the world of inflatable boats? Then my Getting Started Guide is for you. You’ll find tips, tricks, and how-to articles to start off right.

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