Send To A Friend

Boating Links

Virginia Boat Registration

As the owner of a mechanically-powered vessel, you are legally required to register your boat before launching it on Virginia’s waterways. All motorboats must be registered and titled in the state of Virginia.

Watercraft owners are required to apply for a Certificate of Title at the same time they apply for a Certificate of Number (Registration). The 5 page application includes 4 pages of instructions depending on your situation.

An application for title and registration requires a detailed description of the watercraft including the make, length, model year, type of vessel, hull material, type of propulsion, and the twelve-character hull identification number; the make, horsepower and serial number of the motor if it exceeds 25 horsepower; and the name and address of the lien holder, if any.

While the DMV does not accept mail-in applications for Boat Registration and Titles they now accept applications for Boat Registration and Title with the previous title and appropriate fee. The DMV will issue a 90-Day Temporary and forward the Boat Registration/Title documentation to VDGIF for processing.

Required Supporting Documents

Supporting documents to show proof of ownership must be submitted with an application for title and registration. Click here to see the requirements for your situation.


  • Non-motorized vessels
  • US Coast Guard Documented Vessels
  • Vessels that are registered in another state and are operated on Virginia waters for 90 consecutive days or less
  • Vessels with a temporary registration

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.

Virginia Boat Registration and Title Fees:

Fees for Three-Year Watercraft Registration
less than 16’$ 27.00
16’ to less than 26'$ 31.00
26’ to less than 40'$ 37.00
over 40'$ 45.00
Duplicate Registration / Decal (per duplicate)$ 9.00

Fees for Watercraft Titling
Titling Fee$ 7.00
Duplicate Title$ 2.00
Change of Motor on Title$ 2.00
Record Supplemental Lien on Previously Titled Watercraft$ 7.00

The above costs do not include property taxes or any other applicable charges.

Watercraft Sales Tax is 2% of gross purchase price of watercraft and motor.

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: VA 1234 YZ or VA-1234-YZ
Incorrect: VA1234YZ

Registration decals are to be placed within six inches after and in line with the registration number on both sides of the bow. 

Upon renewal every three years, old registration decals are to be removed and the current ones applied in their palace.

Home-Built Vessels

Before you can register your homemade boat, you must first apply for a Hull Identification Number. If watercraft was homemade by you, an affidavit must be provided stating this fact in lieu of a Manufacturer's or Importer's Certificate of Origin. Copies of receipts from building materials must be submitted with the Application. for a Hull Identification Number (HIN). Your watercraft may be subject to inspection by a law enforcement officer.

Once you receive your state-assigned hull identification number, affix it to the transom of the boat.

How to Renew Your Boat Registration

There are several ways in which you can renew your boat registration in Virginia. You can renew online with a credit card, renew by mail or rene in person.

Please note that boat registration/renewals cannot be processed at VDGIF regional offices.

Renew Online

Renew your Virginia boat registration online and receive a printable 30-day temporary registration allowing you to use your boat immediately. An additional $1.50 is applied to the renewal fee for use of this service.

Renew By Mail

Follow the directions on the renewal form that was sent with your renewal notice and mail the form along with the fee and any required documents to:
Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries
Boat Section
4010 W. Broad Street
P.O. Box 11528
Richmond, Virginia 23230-1528

Renew In Person

The Richmond Office is the only place you can renew your boat registration in person in Virginia. This office is located at:
4010 W. Broad Street
Richmond, Virginia 23230-1528

How to get Replacement Registration Card, Decals or Title

Reporting Changes

If a registered watercraft is sold, destroyed, abandoned or stolen, or if you change your mailing address, you are required by Virginia law to report this information in writing within 15 days to:
Boat Registration & Titling Section
Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries
Richmond Headquarters
4010 W. Broad Street
P.O. Box 11104
Richmond, Virginia 23230-1104

In lieu of using a postal carrier, you may send an e-mail message with the necessary information to the Department at