“What do you need to register a boat in Rhode Island?” is a question many boaters may have in the state. Nicknamed “The Ocean State”, Rhode Island tends to take registration seriously, and rightfully so. Rhode Island has more boats per square mile many times over than larger states.

This is also due to its shoreline on Narragansett Bay extending for 400 miles despite the state itself being only 37 miles wide and 48 miles long. Therefore, some details regarding boat registration are specific to Rhode Island’s individual story. Read on to become familiar with the requirements to register a boat in RI, including fees, boating safety education requirements and renewal and replacement tips.

Requirements for Boater Registration in Rhode Island

Requirements to register a boat in RI are issued by the RI Department of Environmental Management (RI DEM) and in most cases, follow the procedures and require the documents outlined here:

  • Bill of sale printed on dealer’s letterhead, for new boats
  • Bill of sale or gift statement for used boats
  • Certificate of title
  • Manufacturer’s statement of origin (MSO) completed by the dealer
  • RI boat registration form and the Outboard Motor Registration Application, if needed
  • Pencil tracing of hull identification number (HIN)
  • Fee payment

All registration instructions must be completed by the registrant, and notarized before submission. New RI boat registrations can be processed in person or mailed to the address below.

Exemptions From Boat Registration and Titling in Rhode Island

“Is your boat exempt from registration in Rhode Island?” is a common question many boaters may encounter. Common boat registration exemptions in Rhode Island include vessels that lack motorized engines, unless they have a backup engine that is used sometimes. The list of which boats are exempt from registration in Rhode Island also includes the following types of vessels:

  • Non-motorized paddle boats, such as rowboats under 12’ long, kayaks and canoes
  • Ships’ lifeboats
  • Vessels registered elsewhere using RI waters temporarily and not kept in RI more than 90 days
  • Ferries and tenders used for transportation between a vessel and the shore
  • Motorboats owned by an entity of the U.S. government

Rhode Island Boat Insurance

Comparing boat insurance rates in Rhode Island are not necessary because insurance coverage is not required in the state. However, researching various boat insurance quotes may be beneficial to protect your investment, should something unforeseen happen. Insurance can provide information on coverage, policies, minimums and more to offer the perfect insurance policy for an individual’s lifestyle and coverage needs.

Completing a boating safety course may lead to discounts on your insurance premiums. Some auto insurance companies may provide boating coverage, so boaters should make sure to explore all options when looking for boat protection.

Rhode Island Boat Registration Fees

If you are wondering, “How much does it cost to register a boat in Rhode Island?” you should know that boat registration fees in Rhode Island are contingent on the length of the boat to be registered. Registration costs start at $32 for registration on a boat up to 15-feet long. The highest fee is for a boat totaling over 50 feet in length, which incurs the max $620 registration fee.

See the chart below for a breakdown of all Rhode Island boat registration fees.

  • 1-15 ft. – $32.00/2-year
  • 16-20 ft. – $42.00/2-year
  • 21-25 ft. – $66.00/2-year
  • 26-30 ft. – $108.00/2-year
  • 31-35 ft. – $212.00/2-year; $106/1-year
  • 36-40 ft. – $264.00/2-year; $132/1-year
  • 41-45 ft. – $316.00/2-year; $158/1-year
  • 46-50 ft. – $418.00/2-year; $209/1-year
  • Over 50ft. – $620.00/2-year; $310/1-year

Renewing Your Rhode Island Boat Registration

If you are wondering how to renew your boat registration in Rhode Island, the process is clarified here. Registration renewal is done every two years, but biennial registration is only one option. Annual boat registration renewal in RI is also available for boats measuring longer than 30’ and will cost half of the two-year rate.

The registration year begins on March 1 and ends on the last day of February of the following year. Like the car registration renewal process, renewal of boating registration allows boaters to maintain vessel operation privileges.

To renew boat registration online RI, provide the boat owner’s last name OR zip code shown on registration, boat owner’s birthday, the boat registration number and a credit card for the fee payment. Once the online application is completed, the system will allow you to print temporary proof of registration to use during the following two-week processing and delivery time. Whether temporary or permanent, registration documents should be carried on the boater while boat is in operation.

Replacing Your Rhode Island Boat Registration

You must replace a boat registration in Rhode Island when your registration certificate or decals are lost, stolen or damaged. The process of how to replace a boat registration in Rhode Island includes requesting a duplicate replacement using the Duplicate Boat Registration & Decal Application Form. Include fee payment and mail the application or deliver it in person to the main RI DEM office:

RI DEM
235 Promenade St.
Rm 360
Providence, RI 02908

Boater Safety Courses in Rhode Island

A boater safety course in Rhode Island is required for all boaters born during 1986 or later who plan to operate a motorboat powered by 10 horsepower or more. Additionally, the safety course must be taken by anyone, regardless of age, who plans on operating a personal watercraft (PWC), such as a jet ski. The official boater safety course in RI is a proctor-administered test and is approved by RI DEM Law Enforcement.

Rhode Island Boater License

A boater license is given to boaters who successfully pass the safety education course for boating and watercraft operation. Online boating license class time can be done online, but the exam must be done in person. This document is good for life; though, if it is misplaced it or damaged, a replacement can be requested by submitting the corresponding form.

Last updated on Monday, March 11 2019.

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