Boat registration

Title, registration & renewal

To navigate, operate, employ or moor your vessel in Washington, you must have a Washington title, registration card and registration decals, except:

  • If your vessel is a canoe, kayak, or a vessel not propelled by a motor or sail
  • If your vessel is less than 16 feet in length and has a motor of 10 horsepower or less and is used on non-federal waters only
  • If your vessel is properly registered by a resident of another state or country who uses Washington waters for 60 days or fewer

The registration card (the cutout portion of the Vessel Registration Certificate) must be onboard whenever you use your vessel.

Title & registration rules

All vessels that require registration must be titled through the Washington State Department of Licensing.

Boaters visiting Washington state

Boaters visiting Washington may recreate on state waters for up to 60 days without a permit as long as the vessel is registered in another state or has current U.S. Coast Guard documentation. If you plan to be on Washington waters longer, apply for a permit on or before the 60th day of your visit. To get a permit, visit any Vehicle Licensing Office, bring your unexpired state vessel registration and identification from your state. You may renew the permit once for an additional 60 days. When the renewed permit expires, you must either register your boat in Washington or remove your boat from Washington waters.

How to apply for registration or title

To title or register your vessel, fill out a Vessel Title Application but don't sign it. Bring the application and the following information to your licensing agent:

  • Model year and make
  • Purchase price and purchase year
  • Overall length
  • Hull identification number, if any
  • U.S. Coast Guard document number, if any.
    • If vessel is documented by U.S. Coast Guard, a copy of documentation papers is required. Owners who appear on Certificate of Documentation must be present to sign vessel application.
  • Ownership documents
    • Out-of-state titles or registration certificates. If your boat was purchased in a state that only requires registration, then this is the ownership document required to register and title your boat in Washington
    • Washington state certificate of title
    • If vessel has not been titled and registered before and was purchased new as of July 1, 1985, the original manufacturer's Statement of Origin

Boaters must title and register their vessels within 60 days of moving to Washington. If you live in Washington and bought the boat in another state, you must title and register your vessel within 15 days of its purchase. Visit the Washington Department of Licensing for specific requirements related to applications, fees and more.

Notification rules

The owner of a registered vessel must notify the Washington State Department of Licensing within 15 days of the following events by calling the service center at (360) 902-3770 or (800) 833-6388 (Washington Telecommunications Relay Services):

  • Loss of registration card
  • Owner's address change
  • Vessel's abandonment, destruction, loss, theft or recovery

Required carbon monoxide sticker

By law, any new or used motor vessel, other than a Jet Ski type personal watercraft, must display a sticker that warns passengers of the dangers of carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning. Use the Washington State CO warning sticker or a Department of Licensing approved sticker previously installed in another state or by the manufacturer. If you don't receive a sticker when you renew or register, contact your local vehicle licensing office or call (360) 902-3812 or (800) 833-6388 (Washington Telecommunications Relay Services).

For more information or questions related to the warning sticker, call (360) 902-3770, option 5. Download the carbon monoxide informational brochure, Boating and the Dangers of Carbon Monoxide.

U.S. Coast Guard documentation

Larger recreational vessels owned by U.S. citizens may (at the option of the owner) be documented by the U.S. Coast Guard. Call the Coast Guard at (800) 799-8362 for more information. Documented vessels also must be registered in Washington but are not required to display the registration number.