All policies and procedures related to boat registration in ND are managed by the North Dakota Game and Fish Department (ND GFD). State law requires registration on all vessels propelled by a motor, regardless of what fuels the motor.

A valid ND vessel registration card must be carried onboard any time the watercraft is in operation, as marine law enforcement can issue a citation if you cannot present it when asked. Learn how to register a boat in North Dakota, get more information about registration fees, and find out how to replace registration documents when you review the information outlined below.

Requirements for Boater Registration in North Dakota

“What do you need to register a boat in North Dakota?” is a common question many boaters may find themselves asking. The requirements to register a boat in North Dakota can be met by sending an application via mail instead of having to appear in person at an ND GFD office. Simply download ND boat registration form SFN 6102, Watercraft Registration Form, complete all the sections and include one of the following proofs of ownership:

  • For a vessel bought from an ND dealer, a copy of the bill of sale that includes proof of tax paid.
  • For a boat purchased from an out-of-state dealer, provide proof of sales tax paid or print and complete Form 21945, Time Remittance Form if you did not pay tax in the other state.
  • For vessels purchased in a private sale, a copy of the previous registration document and a letter from the seller verifying the purchase.
  • When transferring an out-of-state registration to North Dakota, a copy of the previous registration card.

Once you have followed all registration instructions, you will receive your new documents within 5 to 10 days. While waiting for your ND boat registration card and decals, you may use your watercraft if you go online and obtain a free 10-day temporary permit through the ND GFD’s website.

Mail Form SFN 6102, your proof of ownership and fee payment to:

North Dakota Game and Fish Department
Watercraft Registration
100 N. Bismarck Expressway
Bismarck, ND 58501-5095

Exemptions from Boat Registration and Titling in North Dakota

“Is your boat exempt from registration in North Dakota?” is a question many boaters may encounter. Common boat registration exemptions in North Dakota include boats with motorized engines, regardless of their sizes. Exemptions include but are not limited to:

  • Non-motorized watercraft, including rowboats, kayaks and canoes.
  • Ships’ lifeboats.
  • Vessels registered in another state, using ND waters for less than 90 days.
  • Boats from foreign countries that are temporarily being used in ND.
  • Boats owned by an entity of the U.S. government.

North Dakota Boat Insurance

Obtaining boat insurance quotes in North Dakota is unnecessary because insurance coverage is not required by law. However, researching various boat insurance rates in ND may be beneficial, as insurance can protect your investment should something unforeseen happen. Boat insurance programs in North Dakota can provide information on coverage that meets individual coverage needs.

For example, if you have a lien on your vessel, your lending company might require you to obtain boater’s insurance. Many marinas also require liability coverage before allowing you to dock your boat. Like auto insurance, you can explore the different coverage options before deciding what plan is right for you.

North Dakota Boat Registration Fees

If you are wondering, “How much does it cost to register a boat in North Dakota?” the state’s fee schedule is based on the length of the watercraft. Boat registration fees in North Dakota cover a three-year license period and is prorated according to the amount of time left in the current registration period.

The first figure given below is for the first year of registration. The second figure is the boat registration cost in North Dakota if you apply during the second year of the registration period, and the last figure is the rate for applying during the third year:

  • Boats under 16’ in length: $18 – $12 – $6
  • Boats 16’ to 19’11” in length: $36 – $24 – $12
  • Boats 20’ in length and over: $45 – $30 – $15

Renewing Your North Dakota Boat Registration

You may wonder how to renew your boat registration in North Dakota online or in person. You may renew boat registration online in North Dakota by entering your watercraft registration number into the ND GFD’s online watercraft renewal portal and having a credit or debit card on hand for payment.

You can also get your boat registration renewal in ND by visiting any GFD office with your renewal notice and a method of fee payment. Although your registration decal and card will tell you where to complete the renewal, the state will also mail you a renewal notice.

Replacing Your North Dakota Boat Registration

You can replace a boat registration in ND at your local GFD office. Note that while the procedure for how to replace your boat registration in ND is easy, you will be charged the same fees as you would for a new registration.

You should request a replacement as soon as you realize that your documents are missing or damaged. Like the car registration replacement process, obtaining a replacement for vessel registration is crucial for legal operation of a boat.

Boater Safety Courses in North Dakota

Completing a boater safety course in North Dakota is required by law for all youth boaters between 12 and 15 years of age who want to operate a powered watercraft with over 10 horsepower on North Dakota waters. A recognized ND boating safety course is available online or you may take a class taught by the ND Game and Fish Department.

North Dakota Boater License

Obtaining an in-person or online boating license is not a requirement for all boaters in North Dakota. While some call a boater education card a “boater license,” such licenses are limited to commercial boaters, not given to those who boat for recreational purposes. A boater education card does not meet the definition of a license because it never expires.

Last updated on Monday, March 9 2020.