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Kentucky Boating Registration

As the owner of a mechanically-powered vessel, you are legally required to register your boat before launching it on Kentucky’s waterways. All motorboats must be registered in the state of Kentucky. You can register your boat in the County Clerk's Office of the county of your residence or where the boat is most used. All registered vessels must also be titled in Kentucky.


  • Non-motorized vessels
  • Vessels registered in other states are exempt unless they intend to use KY waterways for more 60 days.
  • US Coast Guard Documented Vessels

Boat Classifications

Your boat's classification is determined by its length and type of propulsion. The class will determine applicable laws, required equipment and the registration fees you will pay upon initial registration and at renewal.

To find your boat's length, measure the straight line distance from the foremost part of the boat (bow) to the rearmost part of the boat (stern), excluding any protruding attachments. Your measurement must be exact.

Registration Fees:

Class A Vessels (less than 16’ in length) $19.00
Class 1 Vessels (16’ to less than 26’ in length) $23.00
Class 2 Vessels (26’ to less than 40’ in length) $29.00
Class 3 Vessels (over 40’ in length) $33.00
Inboard boats (regardless of size) $34.00
Boats propelled by an electric (trolling) motor only $9.00

The above costs do not include property taxes, clerk’s fees, titling fees or any other applicable charges. (301 KAR 6:005)

Registration Fees are valid from March 2012 – February 2013 as published in Kentucky’s Fishing and Boating Guide published by the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources.

You can find a copy of Kentucky’s Boat registration form here.

Once a proper application is submitted with the required fee, you will receive a Certificate of Registration and a validation decal. The Certificate of Registration must be carried on board when boat is in use. The validation decal must be affixed to the boat. See below for placement instructions.

Numbering Your Vessel

Once your boat has been assigned a registration number and decals, you must display them on your boat correctly. The registration number must be displayed on each side of the bow, read from left to right and in a position to be distinctly visible. The letters and numbers must be of a plain BLOCK design, at least three (3) inches tall and of a color that contrasts to the color of the hull. There must be a letter size space or hyphen between letter and number groups:
Correct: KY 1234 YZ or KY-1234-YZ
Incorrect: KY1234YZ

Registration decals are to be placed within six inches behind (toward the stern) and in line with the registration number. This means the decal is placed 6” before the registration number on the starboard, (right) side and 6” after the registration number on the port, (left) side.

Upon renewal every year, old registration decals are to be removed and the current ones applied.

Home-Built Vessels

Before you can register your homemade boat, you must first apply for a Hull Identification Number with the Kentucky Department of Transportation (DOT).

How to Renew Your Boat Registration

Kentucky boat registrations must be renewed every year. You will receive a reminder by mail approximately 30 days before your deadline. Boaters can renew their registrations in person or via the US Postal Service.

Renew In Person

Go to the appropriate county clerk's office with your original registration, Social Security number and payment.

Renew In Person

Send your original registration along with your payment to the address listed. Include $2 postage and handling fee; your registration should be returned to you within a few days.

If your registration lapses, you must renew your registration in person.

Replace Lost Registration

Receive a duplicate registration by going to your county clerk's office with personal identification and the $6.00 fee.

Reporting Changes

Kentucky requires boats to be titled within 15 days of new purchase or transfer.

When ownership changes:

  • The purchaser must take the endorsed title to the county clerk to have the boat transferred.
    The seller must notify the county clerk within 15 days of the date the boat was transferred.

Whenever a vessel is destroyed or abandoned, the owner shall, within 15 days, give notice to the county clerk to terminate the registration. The owner shall remove the numbers and decals from the vessel.