The Illinois Department of Natural Resources boat registration process is fairly straightforward. Boat registration can only be done by mail, and the vast majority of watercrafts are subject to registration. This is because registering a boat is a good way to ensure vessels are operated safely and legally in the state’s waters.

Boat registration requirements in Illinois may differ from other states, so it is important for boaters to understand them clearly. The following information will address the following issues and topics surrounding boat and watercraft registration in Illinois.

Requirements for Boater Registration in Illinois

The Illinois DNR boat registration process must be completed by the owners of virtually every type of boat in the state. However, boater registration does not have to be carried out by the owners of lifeboats, sailboards, and boats that will be in the state for less than 60 consecutive days. However, these boats must still be registered in their home state.

When registering a boat, you will need to complete the following steps:

  • Complete Form IL 422-0321 (Watercraft Registration Application). You can obtain this form from a DNR or boat retailer near you.
  • Locate the title and registration of the previous owner, as well as the Certificate of Origin from the manufacturer (if your boat is brand new).
  • Contact the Illinois Department of Revenue to determine and pay your sales tax (keep proof of payment).
  • Write a check for your registration fee, and make it payable to the Department of Natural Resources.
  • Send all of the documents mentioned above, along with your check to the DNR in Springfield.

While waiting for your registration decal from the state, your application copy will serve as a temporary form of registration. You will receive your new certificate of title, registration and decals in the mail a few days later. New boat registration must be done within 15 days of your initial purchase.

Boaters in Illinois are required to renew their registration every three years.

Exemptions From Registration and Titling in Illinois

The registration process does not have to be completed by the owners of certain watercrafts. You do not have to undergo boat registration if any of the following apply:

  • You possess a registration from another state, and you intend to use the vessel in Illinois for fewer than 60 days.
  • Your watercraft belongs to a government agency.
  • You are the owner of a boat that is used for competitive purposes.
  • Your vessel is registered in another country and you intend to use the vessel in Illinois for fewer than 60 days.
  • You are the owner of an official lifeboat.

Canoe registration, or any type of boater registration for that matter, is not required for the following types of watercraft:

  • Kiteboards
  • Canoes
  • Paddle boards
  • Kayaks

If your boat is not propelled by a motor, you do not need to register it in the state of Illinois.

Illinois Boat Insurance

The IL vessel registration process does not require boaters to obtain insurance, but doing so can be a wise investment. Once you receive your official registration, you may want to obtain boat insurance from a private insurance company. If you register your boat online, you can remain online and obtain quotes from various private companies, and choose the policy that best fits your overall budget. Boat insurance is not mandatory, but it can be useful in the event that your boat is damaged or destroyed.

Illinois Boat Registration Fees

Fees for private and commercial vessel registration are the same, and the amount you are required to pay will depend on the size of your boat. Your boat or canoe registration fee will be higher if you have a larger boat, and you can always view the current fee schedule at the Illinois Department of Natural Resources website. The documented vessel registration fee schedule is as follows:

  • Powered boats under 16 feet long – $28 (Class 1)
  • Boats between 16 and 26 feet long – $60 (Class 2)
  • Boats between 26 and 40 feet long – $160 (Class 3)
  • Boats more than 40 feet long – $210 (Class 4)

Boaters will receive their new boat registration numbers after they fill out the necessary paperwork and pay one of the fees listed above.

Renewing Your Illinois Boat Registration

You may register a boat online if need to renew before the end of your three-year period. To register your boat online, you simply need to visit the Illinois Department of Natural Resources renewal site. To complete this process, you will need to enter the numbers from your boat registration and Hull ID.

Once you complete the online renewal application and pay any required fees, you will have renewed your registration. You may pay your online renewal fee using an E-Check, Visa, MasterCard, American Express, or Discover card.

To complete the DNR boat registration process by phone, you may contact the Department of Natural Resources at your own convenience. You should have your vessel registration documents on hand if you wish to complete the process quickly, and you will be allowed to pay your renewal fee using an E-Check or major credit card. The phone process requires boaters to pay an additional convenience fee.

Note: At the end of your phone transaction, make sure to record the confirmation number you receive.

Replacing Your Illinois Boat Registration

To replace a lost boat registration in Illinois, you will need to fill out a replacement form and send it along with a $7 fee to the Department of Natural Resources in Springfield. You will not need to completely undergo the registration process again, and once you receive your new registration, you will be able to use your boat again. Until you receive your replacement vessel registration in the mail, you should refrain from using your boat.

Boater Safety Courses in Illinois

Before you can receive a boat registration in Illinois, you may want to complete an approved safety course. Your registration will not be denied if you are over the age of 17 and choose not to complete a course.

By obtaining your boat registration and completing a course, you can decrease your chances of being hurt in an accident. It can also lower your insurance rates. Taking a boater safety exam is the best way to ensure you pass the course.

Illinois Boater Licenses

Once you complete the process of watercraft registration in Illinois and complete the required safety courses, you will want to keep your license with you at all times. If required, after boat registration, your state-approved course must be at least eight hours long, and you will be required to pass the exam in order to receive credit for your course. Even if you already have your registration documents, the state recommends that all boating enthusiasts take a safety course.

Last updated on Monday, March 11 2019.

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