Outdoor recreation can play a vital role in protecting our natural resources. When you register your boat, you do your part in sustaining resources that promote safe and responsible use of our nation's waters. Your registration dollars also help pay for marinas, boat ramps, lake clean up and much more.

Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR):

The DNR is responsible for regulating the state boating laws in Michigan.


All vessels propelled by machinery, including gasoline, diesel and electric motors, and principally operated on Michigan waters must be registered and issued a Michigan Certificate of Number(Registration) by the Michigan Secretary of State.

All vessels 20 feet and longer and all watercraft with permanently affixed engines regardless of length must be titled,and issued a certificate of title by the Michigan Secretary of State. Watercraft not required to be titled may be titled as an option.


Boat owners must keep their Certificate of Ownership in a safe place,

Note  - On the reverse of the Certificate of Ownership there is an application for the transfer of ownership.


Boat owners must have at least a temporary Certificate of Number before they can operate in state waters. Upon receipt of the Certificate of Number please note the following:

  • It must be signed and carried on board when operating the vessel.
  • It is valid for three years and expires on March 31st of the third year.
  • The Michigan Secretary of State must be notified within 15 days if the boater changes residences.
  • The Michigan Secretary of State must be notified within 15 days if the boat is sold or changes ownership; or if the vessel is destroyed or abandoned.

Also note that the boat owner must obtain their boat title before they can obtain their Certificate of Number. If their vessel is 20 feet in length or longer and is permanently affixed with a motor their boat must be titled.

The Certificate of Number, validation decals and title are obtained by submitting the proper application and fee to any Secretary of State branch. For details more details on obtaining or renewing a Certificate of Number please contact the following number, 1-517-322-1460 or visit the following link:


Successful registration results in a Certificate of Number,physical boat numbers and a decal. Boat numbers must:

  • Be affixed on both sides of the bow;
  • Be block letters, three inches high and contrasting with the color of your boat;
  • Letters must be separated from the numbers by a space or a hyphen.

For example: MC 1234 BX or MC-1234-BX. This is a federal and state requirement.


The decal which is provided to you by the Secretary of State should be displayed on both sides of the boat 3 inches beyond the last letter of the assigned number.

Lack of the correct documentation may result in delays and fines.

Make sure all boats are properly marked and documented. It's important to keep your papers with the boat - be particularly aware when transferring ownership of your vessel.

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