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Tennessee Boating Registration

As the owner of a mechanically-powered recreational vessel, you are legally required to register your boat before launching it on Tennessee’s waterways. This includes documented vessels as well as sailboats which are used primarily in Tennessee.


  • Boaters from other states may use Tennessee waters occasionally. If Tennessee becomes their state of principal use their boats must be registered in Tennessee.
  • Sailboats are exempt from registration provided that Tennssee is not their state of principal use.*

  • *State of principal use means the state on whose waters a vessel is used or to be used most, whether moored or underway during a calendar year.

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.

In Tennessee you have the option to register your boat for one, two or three years at a time. If you acquire another boat, the fees will not transfer from one boat to another.

Registration Fees:


Less than 16’ in length $13.00 $24.00 $35.00
6’ to less than 26’ in length $25.00 $48.00 $71.00
26’ to less than 40’ in length $38.00 $72.00 $107.00
Over 40’ in length $51.00 $97.00 $142.00
Dealer / Manufacturer Certificate $32.00 $64.00 $95.00

The above costs do not include property taxes, clerk’s fees, or any other applicable charges.


The Tennessee department of Revenue requires proof that sales tax was paid when boat was purchased. The County Clerk or the boat dealer will stamp the application to verify tax was paid. You will receive a temporary registration which will allow you to operate your boat until your new decals and registration card arrive by mail, in about 2 weeks./p>


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: TN 1234 YZ or TN-1234-YZ

Registration decals are to be placed within six inches to the left or right, but in line with the registration number.

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


Before you can register your homemade boat, you must first apply for a Hull Identification Number with the Tenessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA).

How to Renew Your Boat Registration

Tennessee boat registrations must be renewed every year, two or three depending on the expiration date.You can renew online, in person or by mail.

Renew In Person

Go to the appropriate TWRA office with your original registration, Social Security number and payment.

Renew by Mail

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.

TWRA Boating Division
P.O. Box 40747
Nashville, TN 37402

Renew Online

Click to go to this Tennessee website and follow directions.

NOTE: 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

Tennessee requires boats to be registered within 15 days of new purchase or transfer.

When ownership changes:

  • The purchaser must take the endorsed paperwork 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.