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How to Register a Boat or Watercraft in North Carolina

Most new boats must be registered through the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission (NCWRC) Division of Engineering Services, before they can be sailed.

What vessels require registration?

  1. All motorized vessels used on public waters including vessels which use an electric trolling motor must be registered. This requirement also includes jet skis.
  2. All US Coast Guard Documented Vessels operating in North Carolina for over 90 consecutive days must be registered.
  3. All sailboats used on public waters must be registered if longer than 14 feet at the load waterline.
  4. If a vessel registered in another state is brought in to North Carolina for over 90 consecutive days, the registration must be transferred to North Carolina. Active duty military, temporarily stationed in North Carolina, who have a valid out of state registration for their vessel are exempt from this requirement.
  5. All titled vessels must be registered.

What vessels are exempt from registration?

  1. Vessels that are unused and kept on dry land do not need registration in North Carolina.
  2. Rowboats, canoes, kayaks, and rafts moved only by oars, paddles, or the current do not need registration in North Carolina.
  3. A vessel used only on a private pond does not need registration in North Carolina.
  4. Ship's lifeboats or dinghies do not need to be registered if they are used only for emergency lifeboat purposes. However, if they are motorized and used for non-emergency purposes, they do require registration.

TO REGISTER THROUGH AN AGENT

  • You can register a boat at North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission (NCWRC) office through a Wildlife Service Agent.
  • You must complete boat registration application (VL-1 form) and provide proof of ownership such as a bill of sale, invoice, and manufacturer's certificate of origin.
  • A temporary registration is provided by the agent till the registration as well as decal is mailed to you by the NCWRC. You can also register in person by going to the NCWRC office at:
    1751 Varsity Drive,
    NCSU Centennial Campus,
    Raleigh, NC 27606-2576    

TO REGISTER BY MAIL

  • You must complete boat registration application (VL-1 form)
  • Provide proof of ownership such as a bill of sale, title, Hull Identification Number (HIN) and manufacturer's certificate of origin.
  • The registration fee has to be enclosed in check or money order and sent with the application and other required documents to:
North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission (NCWRC)
1751 Varsity Drive, 
NCSU Centennial Campus,
Raleigh, NC 27606-2576    
It takes up to 15 days for the Commission to mail back the Registration and Decal.

FEES

A registration fee ranging from $35 to $190 (depending on the size of the boat, whether you want one year or three year registration and whether you need titling) is required. Check specific fees at the Registration and Titling page.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

  • The vessel registration number should be displayed on the port and starboard bow along with the decal clearly displayed on the starboard bow to the right of the registration number of a vessel.
  • For additional information, see the North Carolina boating information on NCWRC.

Reviews of How to Register a Boat or Watercraft in North Carolina

Do I need an agent or can the NCWRC provide a registration sticker?

Is there any place on Hyco Lake that this service is provided?

The information for finding an agent to register a motor boat is pitiful of nonexistent on this site - the very sight where one should be able to find such information. It can't be hard to register a boat. It's only hard to find out how. Why do you make it hard?