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.

North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission (NCWRC):

The North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission (NCWRC) is legally responsible for vessel registration in North Carolina.


All boats propelled by machinery, including gasoline, diesel and electric motors, and principally operated on North Carolina waters must be registered with the North Carolina Wildlife Resource Commission (NCWRC). Vessels that must be registered in North Carolina are:

  • All motorized vessels used on public waters including personal watercraft.
  • All sailboats used on public waters longer than 14 feet at the load waterline.
  • Vessels properly registered in another state, using North Carolina waters for more than 90 consecutive days.


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 Registration before they can operate on state waters. Upon receipt of the Certificate please note the following:

  • It must be signed and carried on board when operating the vessel.
  • Boat owners can choose to register their vessels (certificate of number) for either one or three years.
  • The NCWRC must be notified within 15 days if the boater changes residences

If a boater looses or destroys the certificate of number or decals, an application for a duplicate must be submitted along with the processing fee..

Also note, a recent change in North Carolina law now requires all documented vessels to be registered with the state.

Successful registration results in a certificate of number,physical boat numbers and a decal. Your registration MUST be kept on board the vessel at all times. (It is advisable to keep the registration in a dry-bag on board.) 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
  • numbers and letters must be separated by a hyphen or a space


For example: NC-1234-BX or NC1234 BX. This is a federal and state requirement.

Lack of the correct documentation can 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  transferring ownership of your vessel.

*Content provided by  www.BoaterExam.com