Washington DC boat registrations are managed by the DC Harbor Patrol of the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD). To follow registration instructions, all watercraft must be titled and registered with the Harbor Patrol, whether the vessel is powered by an engine or not.

Even kayaks, canoes, sailboats and paddle boats must be titled and registered before operating on waters in the District of Columbia. Keep reading to learn how to register a boat in Washington DC, find out registration fees and learn what the District expects regarding boater education.

Requirements for Boater Registration in Washington DC

“What do you need to register a boat in Washington DC?” is a common question many boaters may ask. Requirements for registration vary somewhat, depending upon the way that you purchased your vessel. However, all will use the same DC boat registration form to start the process.

Complete Form PD 330, Application for Boat Certificate of Title/Registration, sections A through E, then gather the supporting documents listed below, as they apply to your situation.

  • For a new vessel not owned previously, purchased from a dealer or manufacturer, you will need an original bill of sale that shows a description of the vessel. This should include manufacturer, model, hull identification number (HIN), length, year, motor, date of sale, purchasers’ names and the purchase price.
  • For a used vessel, previous owned, registered and titled, provide the original bill of sale showing a description of the vessel as described in the item above. You must also show proof of ownership from the seller via a certificate of title or registration document that has been signed over to you. If a lien is on the vessel, include a lien satisfaction showing that the debt is settled.
  • S. Coast Guard documented vessels need to show a bill of sale, a current CG certificate of documentation in the name or names of the applicant or applicants. These require a temporary registration, which can be further explained by a Harbor Patrol officer.

Once you have met these requirements to register a boat in DC, bring your documents to the Harbor Patrol’s main office, located at 550 Water St. SW along with a form of payment for your fees. Washington DC vessel registrations are good for one year, valid from January 1 to December 31.

Exemptions from Boat Registration and Titling in Washington DC

Common boat registration exemptions in Washington DC include boats used only for racing purposes, lifeboats and vessels with a foreign or out-of-state registration that are using DC waters for 50 consecutive days or fewer. If you are asked “is your boat exempt from registration in Washington DC?” you should know the types of vessels that do not need to be registered. For more details on registration exemptions, call the Harbor Patrol at (202) 727-4582.

Washington DC Boat Insurance

If you have a loan on your boat, the lending institution may require you to compare boat insurance rates in Washington DC and buy insurance that covers their interest in your vessel, even though insurance is not a legal requirement in DC. The MPD recommends obtaining boat insurance quotes in DC and protecting yourself with coverage because of the risks involved in boating and the commonality of accidents.

Several insurance programs provide vessel coverage even though the District of Columbia does not require boaters to obtain it. You can also reduce the cost of your insurance by earning a boating safety education card. Like auto insurance, anyone obtaining watercraft insurance coverage should make sure to shop around for the best price and coverage options.

Washington DC Boat Registration Fees

If you are wondering how much does it cost to register a boat in Washington DC, the answer will depend on several factors.  The boat registration fees in Washington DC is made up of taxes and fees and the amount varies according to the size of the vessel as well as its value. The basic cost is listed below, and you will add a title fee, if required, and a 6 percent title tax on your vessel purchase price.

These figures apply to DC and Coast Guard numbered vessels:

  • Non-powered vessels of any length: $10
  • Boats less than 16’ in length: $15
  • Boats between 16’ and 26’ in length: $25
  • Boats over 26’ up to 40’ in length: $35
  • Boats over 40’ in length: $60
  • Duplicate vessel decals or registration cards: $5 each

Pay registration fees by check or money order only, made payable to DC Treasurer.

Renewing Your Washington DC Boat Registration

If you are wondering how to renew your boat registration in DC, you will receive an annual reminder card in November each year explaining how to renew on time. However, it is easy enough to remember when to renew a boat registration in Washington DC as it always expires on December 31.

You may renew boat registration online in DC through the DC boat registration site called “OVERS.” If you would rather obtain your boat registration renewal in DC by mail or in person, simply mail the renewal notice with fee payment to the address on the notice, or bring your documents to the Harbor Patrol’s main office, located at 550 Water St. SW.

Replacing Your Washington DC Boat Registration

Are you wondering how to replace your boat registration in DC if your documents are missing or mutilated? To replace a boat registration in Washington DC, simply complete Form PD 330, Application for Boat Title/Certificate of Number and submit this form in person at the Harbor Patrol office on Water Street, along with the replacement fee.

Boater Safety Courses in Washington DC

All boaters must take a boater safety course in Washington DC and have a copy of their boating safety education certificate onboard whenever operating a vessel on DC waters. There are two options for this course: online or attending a classroom course taught by the Harbor Patrol.

Washington DC Boater License

 A physical or online boating license is not something that the District of Columbia issues to boaters. The District of Columbia does not issue a boater license, only a boater education certificate that proves the owner has taken a safety course.

Last updated on Monday, March 9 2020.