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.

Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM):

The DEM is responsible for regulating the state boating laws in Rhode Island.


All vessels propelled by machinery, including gasoline, diesel and electric motors, and principally operated on Rhode Island waters must be registered and issued a Rhode Island Certificate of Number (Registration) by the Department of Environmental Management's Office of Registration and Licensing. The following are exceptions to this requirement:

  • Vessels used exclusively for racing events
  • A rowboat less than 12 feet in length
  • A ship's lifeboat
  • Non-motorized vessels (canoes and kayaks)
  • Vessels registered in another state operating on Rhode Island for no more than 90 consecutive days.
  • Vessel from another country using Rhode Island's waters on a temporary basis.


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.


No person shall operate or give permission for the operation of any motorboat unless it has been properly numbered.
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 onboard when operating the vessel.
  • It is valid for two years and expires on the final day of February of the second year.
  • The Department of Environmental Management (DEM) must be notified within 15 days if the vessel is stolen, destroyed, abandoned, if the boater changes residences or if there is a transfer in the ownership of the vessel.

If the vessels Certificate of Number is somehow lost the owner must apply for a duplicate certificate through the DEM within 30 days.


Also note that the boat owner must obtain their boat title before they can obtain their Certificate of Number. To obtain a boat title the boat owner must contact the DEM. The following vessels are not required to be titled:

  • All vessels which are not required to be registered
  • Vessels that are documented with the U.S. Coast Guard
  • Vessels which are less than 14 feet in length

If the vessels Certificate of Title is somehow lost the owner must apply for a duplicate certificate through the DEM within 30 days.

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: RI 1234 BX or RI-1234-BX. This is a federal and state requirement.

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.

*Content provided by www.BoaterExam.com