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.

Washington State Parks & Recreation Commission:
The Washington State Parks & Recreation Commission is responsible for regulating the state boating laws of Washington State.


All vessels propelled by machinery, including gasoline, diesel and electric motors, and principally operated on Washington State waters must be registered and issued a Washington Registration Card and Number by the state, which can be obtained through the office of vehicle licensing or Auditor in the boat owner's county. Exceptions for the boat registration requirements include:

  • Non-motorized vessels, not including sailboats.
  • Vessels registered in another state or country using Washington waters (non-federal) for 60 days or less.
  • Vessels measuring less than 16 feet in length propelled by a motor that is no greater than 10 horsepower operated exclusively on non-federal waters.


All vessels requiring registration in the state of Washington must also be titled. A boat title may be obtained by contacting the Washington Department of Licensing.

NOTE On the reverse side of the Certificate of Title there is an application for the transfer of ownership.


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

  • It must be signed and carried onboard when operating the vessel.
  • The Department of Licensing must be notified within 15 days if the boater changes residences.
  • The Department of Licensing must also be notified within 15 days if the vessel is either destroyed, lost, stolen or abandoned.
  • The Washington registration period is from July 1 through June 30 each year.
  • Washington registration and decals are valid for 1 year.

More information with regards to registration and titling applications may also be obtained by contacting your local county auditor or the Department of Licensing at 1-360-902-4089.

Successful registration results in a registration card along with a registration decal for each side of the vessel. Physical boat numbers must be purchased separately. 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;
  • Read from left to right.

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

The decal which is provided to you by the state must be displayed on the stern side of the registration numbers on both sides of the vessel.

Lack of the correct documentation will 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