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How to Register a Boat or Water Craft in Washington DC

Most new boats must be registered through the Washington DC Metropolitan Police (MPDC) Department's Harbor Patrol they can be sailed. All vessels have to be titled before registration.


  1. All vessels plying on DC waters.


  1. Any boat that is propelled only by oars or paddles.
  2. Boats registered in another state and not being used in DC for more than 50 days.
  3. A ship's lifeboat.
  4. Boats registered in another country temporarily plying in DC waters.
  5. Boats owned by the United States, a solitary state, a county, or a municipality for official purposed and identifiable as such.
  6. Boats registered with the US Coast Guard.
  7. Racing boats brought into the State for racing.


  • You can register a boat in person by visiting the Harbor Master of the MPDC Harbor Patrol Unit.
  • You must bring a completed boat registration application and proof of ownership such as a bill of sale, previous registration, invoice, bill of lading, certificate of origin, or out-of-state title.


Boat registration fees range from $10 to $60, depending on the propelling source as well as the size of the vessel. See here for a more detailed breakdown of the registration fees. In addition, vessels registered in DC are subject to a $2 titling fee at the time of registration.


  • Both the vessel registration number and current decals must be clearly displayed on the vessel, according to according to Washington DC requirements.
  • Vessels, 32 feet or longer, can be documented with the US Coast Guard.

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