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.

  • Boating Registration Information
  • The law requires you to register any boat that is motor-driven and is operated on public waterways in NYS. The boat requires a registration even if the motor is not the primary source of propulsion. If you operate the boat in NYS, you must register the boat with the DMV. After you register your boat, you receive a registration certificate that indicates the registration number assigned to your boat and a set of registration stickers.

New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation: is responsible for regulating the state boating laws in the state of New York.


All vessels propelled by machinery, including gasoline, diesel and electric motors, and principally operated on New York waters must be registered and issued a New York Certificate of Registration by the NYS Department of Motor Vehicles. The following vessels are exempt from state registration requirements:

  • vessels operating commercially with either a U.S. or foreign document
  • vessels legally registered in another state (up to 90 consecutive days maximum)
  • foreign registered boats temporarily using New York State waters.
  • lifeboats (not including tenders and dinghies)
  • competition race boats
  • non mechanically propelled vessels
  • government vessels

In order to register a vessel, the owner must complete Motor Vehicles form MV-82B (application for registration), have the appropriate registration fee, provide proof of ownership, and proof of payment of sales tax (may be paid to Motor Vehicles at time of registration). If this is a new boat or a vessel being registered for the first time, the owner will also need to bring the original certificate, or statement, of origin from the manufacturer, along with a bill of sale with them to the Department of Motor Vehicles.

In addition, the Department of Motor Vehicles issues titles to all vessels with a model year of 1987 or newer which are at least 14 feet in length. The title is clear proof of ownership which must be surrendered to a new owner at time of transfer. If the vessel is less than 14 feet, or built before 1987 then the registration certificate serves as the proof of ownership and must be signed over to a new owner.

Two validation stickers will be issued at the time of registration. These stickers will display the month and year of registration expiration. Validation stickers are to be affixed to the hull, in line with, and no further than three inches aft of,the registration number.


Boat title transfers must be made within 30 days of purchase to avoid a late penalty. Please contact the New York State DMV for further information.


The registration certificate is your proof of current registration. It may also be your only proof of ownership unless the vessel is titled or documented. Vessel operators, whether they are the owner or not, must carry the vessel's original certificate of registration on board at all times.

Change of Ownership

When a vessel is sold, the certificate of registration or title must be signed over to the new owner. The original owner should notify the Department of Motor Vehicles of the name and address of the new owner, as well as the date of transfer and the registration number of the vessel. In order to protect yourself when transferring ownership of any vessel, the validation stickers should be removed from the hull prior to turning the boat over to the new owner. This will ensure that the new owner will not use the vessel until it has been properly registered with Motor Vehicles in his or her name.

Change of Address

The owner of any registered vessel must notify the Department of Motor Vehicles within ten (10) days of a change in address. This change should also be noted on the registration certification.

Boat Lost or Stolen

If a boat is stolen, lost, abandoned, or destroyed, the owner must notify the Department of Motor Vehicles in writing within fifteen (15) days. The local law enforcement agency should be notified when a lost or stolen boat is recovered.


The Department of Motor Vehicles will send you a registration renewal at the appropriate time. Check to see that all information on the renewal is correct, then sign and return the renewal notice along with the specified fee.

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.

The registration number consists of the letters NY followed by four numbers and two letters. A space, or hyphen, the width of a letter, must separate the first and last two letters from the four middle numbers (NY 1234 AB or NY-1234-AB). The numbers must be painted or permanently attached to both sides of the vessels bow,should read from left to right, be of block letters not less than three inches in height, and of a color that contrasts with that of the hull.

The registration number should be the only number on the forward half of the vessel and should be clearly visible and readable from a distance of at least one hundred (100) feet during daylight hours. This number may not be transferred to another vessel.



Some larger vessels owned by U.S. citizens may be documented with the U.S. Coast Guard. Owners of vessels which are documented exclusively for pleasure and which operate principally within NYS must apply to the Department of Motor Vehicles for a registration certificate and are required to display the appropriate validation stickers. The Department of Motor Vehicles will not issue a title or a New York State registration number to a documented vessel,however you will receive a registration certificate with your document number printed on it and a set of validation stickers. The stickers should be placed in line with and no further than three inches aft of, where the New York State registration number would be placed. The documented vessel must carry its documentation and the New York State registration at all times when the vessel is in use.


Acceptable proofs of ownership are as follows:

  • Manufacturer's statement or certificate of origin (MSO or MCO)
  • NYS or out-or-state title
  • NYS or out-of-state transferable registration
  • USCG Document or a document issued by a foreign government

Any transfer of information must be properly completed. Proof of ownership must be accompanied by the bill of sale which contains both the sellers and purchasers names; a description of the boat including hull identification number (HIN); year, make and length;purchase price and registration number (if previously registered in NYS). If the boat passed through the hands of more than one purchaser since it was last registered, you must supply valid bills of sale from one purchaser to the next showing continuity of ownership from the last registrant to yourself.

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