Registering a boat is required of owners of vessels in Michigan and is handled through the Secretary of State (SOS). This is to ensure that all watercrafts are being operated in accordance with state safety standards.

Registering a boat also help the coast guard and other law enforcement identify any vessels that are operating illegally in Michigan’s waters. Therefore, boat owners should understand boat registration requirements and how to renew or replace their boat registration. How to obtain a registration and a breakdown of the boat registration exceptions are explained in the following sections.

Requirements for Boater Registration in Michigan

Michigan boat registration is a vital component of owning and operating a vessel. All requirements must be followed to ensure that your registration is successfully processed, allowing you to hit the water without any worries. New boat registration can be completed if the boater presents certain documents to prove ownership of the vessel, which includes the bill of sale or certificate of title.

Additionally, certain processing fees must be paid to complete the registration process. Once your registration is processed, you will receive a sticker with your registration number on it. The Certificate of Number must always be displayed on the boat.

Exemptions from Registration and Titling in Michigan

New boat registration is not required for certain vessels, including boats that have a valid out-of-state registration and are only in Michigan waters temporarily. Additionally, boat registration numbers are not required for types of vessels listed below:

  • Vessels under 16 feet that operate by oars or paddles and are not intended for commercial use.
  • Nonmotorized canoes or kayaks that are not intended for commercial use.
  • Rafts, surfboards, and floatation devices.

Michigan Boat Insurance

Completing a new boat registration is the first step to a boat owner safely and legally operating a vessel in Michigan. Michigan law does not make boat insurance a necessity, but boat owners could benefit from purchasing a policy. This is because a boat insurance policy can cover the cost of damage to a vessel or replacement of a boat in the case of theft.

Liability coverage covers the expenses of a boat accident, and some policies offer medical coverage in case of personal injury due to a boat collision. Boat registration does not require a boat owner to have coverage, but it is in their best interest to invest in a boat insurance plan.

Michigan Boat Registration Fees

Boat registration fees depends on the type of vessel and its length. Canoe registration is $5 in the state of Michigan, and it is $5 to register a kayak as well. Michigan motorboat registration fees are listed below by length:

  • Less than 12 feet: $14
  • 12 to 16 feet: $17
  • 16 to 21 feet: $42
  • 21 to 28 feet: $115
  • 28 to 35 feet: $168
  • 35 to 42 feet: $244
  • 42 to 50 feet: $280
  • 50 feet or more: $448

Renewing Your Michigan Boat Registration

Michigan boat registration renewal is an important part of owning and operating a vessel. You must renew your registration every three years by March 31, which is the annual expiration date. Registration renewal can be completed in person at the nearest MI SOS office, online or by mail.

Note: Boaters must provide their renewal notice and boat registration fee at the time of application.

Replacing Your Michigan Boat Registration

Boat registration replacement is vital if a driver loses or damages their current registration. This is because the registration sticker the validity of a boater’s registration if a boat’s decals are damaged. Boat owners can request a boat registration replacement online or by visiting their local Secretary of State office and providing the boat number and other personal information to process the request.

Boater Safety Courses in Michigan

Michigan boat registration is the first step for drivers to legally operate a vessel. After a boater completes his or her registration, he or she may be required to complete a boater safety course. Boaters born after June 30, 1996 and most other drivers are required to complete a boater safety course in order to receive their boater education card.

Boater safety classes are offered online or in a classroom setting. Boaters must pass any final exams to complete the course and receive their boater education card. After registering a boat, drivers can find local boater safety classes through the Michigan Department of Natural Resources official website.

Michigan Boater Licenses

Registering a boat in Michigan is an important part of keeping the waterways safe for all resident boaters. Vessel registration is required for most vessels, and most boat drivers need to receive their boater education card to operate a boat. Boaters born on or after June 30, 1996 must earn a boating safety certificate in order to legally operate a boat.

Those born after December 31, 1978 who are at least 16 years of age may operate a personal watercraft (PWC) only if they have first received boating safety certificate to operate vessels such as jet skis and wave runners. The boater education card can be attained by completing a boater safety course online or in person through the Michigan DNR.

Last updated on Monday, March 11 2019.

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