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.

Tennessee Wildlife and Resource Agency (TWRA):

The TWRA is responsible for regulating the state boating laws in Tennessee.


All boats propelled by machinery, including gasoline, diesel and electric motors, and principally operated on Tennessee waters must be registered with the Tennessee Wildlife and Resource Agency (TWRA). Exceptions for boat registration include:

  • Non-motorized vessels such as canoes or kayaks
  • Vessels that are properly registered in another state and that are operating on Tennessee waters for less than 60 consecutive days

An application for boat registration is available from the boat dealer or through a county clerk's office, and must be sent to the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency.


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, the permanent Certificate of Number must be signed and carried onboard when the operating.

The Certificate of Number is set to expire (and must be renewed) after one, two, or three years at the owner's preference. The vessel owner is required to inform the TWRA within 15 days of the following events:

  • He or she changes address.
  • The vessel is sold, abandoned, destroyed, lost or stolen and/or recovered

Vessels do not require registration in Tennessee as long as they are properly registered in another state and are operating in Tennessee for no more than 60 consecutive days.

If the Certificate of number or decals are lost or destroyed, the boat owner must apply for a duplicate, at a processing 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. (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
  • Letters must be separated from the numbers by a space

For example: TN-123-BX or TN 123 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 aware when transferring ownership of your vessel.

*Content provided by www.BoaterExam.com