Virginia boater registrations are handled by the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (DGIF). In most cases, registration is handled simultaneously with boat titling, using one VA boat registration form for both processes. The VA DGIF uses registration as one way to keep the state’s waterways safe for all boaters enjoying Virginia’s waterways. Keep reading to learn more about registering a vessel in Virginia, and find out about renewal and replacement policies, registration fees and more.

Requirements for Boater Registration in Virginia

“What do you need to register a boat in Virginia?’ is an important question many boaters may ask. The first of the requirements to register a boat in Virginia involves completing and submitting a registration form which can be obtained online, or in person at DGIF offices, most watercraft dealers, and from agents who sell fishing and hunting licenses. Request Form BRT001, Application for Watercraft Certificate of Title and Certificate of Number (Registration) and complete all sections.

In addition to your fee payment and form BRT001, another of the Virginia boat registration instructions is to provide proof of ownership. Adhere to the following VA boat registration instructions:

  • For a new boat, provide an original manufacturer’s certificate of origin.
  • For a previously titled used vessel, show an original VA title or out-of-state title.
  • For a previously registered but not titled boat, from Virginia, provide a bill of sale. If unavailable, complete Form BRT-010, Notification of Change of Status in a Numbered Vessel.
  • For a previously registered but not titled boat from another state, show a copy of the out-of-state registration and a bill of sale if the vessel is not in your name yet.

All motorized boats must follow registration instructions and also obtain a Virginia certificate of title.

Exemptions from Boat Registration and Titling in Virginia

If you are asked, “Is your boat exempt from registration in Virginia?” you should know that if your boat has an engine of any sort, it must be registered. Typical exemptions from registration include include canoes, rowboats or kayaks powered only by oars or paddles and vessels used only on private ponds and other private waterways. The list of which boats are exempt from registration in Virginia also extends to boats with valid out-of-state or foreign registrations that are not used or kept in Virginia for more than 90 consecutive days.

Virginia Boat Insurance

Boat insurance rates in VA are on par with those in neighboring states, and many boaters purchase coverage instead of taking on the inherent risks of boating without the backing of solid insurance protection. However, obtaining boat insurance quotes in Virginia are not required by law in order to operate a boat. Insurance programs are seen as a wise investment because they can replace or repair vessels that have been wrecked or stolen.

Virginia Boat Registration Fees

“How much does it cost to register a boat in Virginia?” is a question many boaters may ask. The state has a simple fee schedule with the boat registration fees in Virginia based on the length of the vessel being registered. Your registration cost in Virginia covers a registration period three years in length.

  • Boats less than 16’ in length: $27
  • Boats 16’ to less than 20’ in length: $31
  • Boats 20’ to less than 40’ in length: $37
  • Boats 40’ in length or longer: $45
  • Replacement certificate or decal: $9

Renewing Your Virginia Boat Registration

Similar to a car registration renewal process, you must renew your watercraft registration credentials to maintain your privileges. Go You can renew boat registration online in VA via the Go Outdoors Virginia Online Watercraft Registration and Renewal Portal. The state explains how to renew your boat registration in VA in a timely manner on the registration renewal notices it sends 45 days prior to the expiration date.

The notice will also include a VA boat registration renewal number, or PIN, that is needed to renew online. If you are wondering when to complete the renewal process, keep in mind that your registration documents include the date you last obtained your registration and it was good for three calendar years from that date.

If you did not receive a renewal notice, or cannot find it, you may call DGIF at (804) 767-6760 and request a new PIN. Follow the online prompts and pay the renewal fees with a valid credit card.

Replacing Your Virginia Boat Registration

The steps to replace a boat registration in Virginia begin with completing the correct form to fit your situation. If you are wondering how to replace your boat registration in Virginia, use the Duplicate Certificate of Number form. If you need to replace registration decals, use the Application for Duplicate Validation Decals form.

If your title is missing, complete the Duplicate Certificate of Title form. Send these replacement registration forms along with your fee payment to:

Department of Game and Inland Fisheries
Boat Section
P.O. Box 9930
Henrico, VA 23228

Boater Safety Courses in Virginia

Completing a boater safety course in Virginia is a legal requirement in the state as of 2016. Having a safety course completion card on board is necessary for personal watercraft and motorboats with a 10 horsepower motor or greater whenever the vessel is in operation. There are several boating safety education options available, with one of the easiest being an online option.

Note: The VA DGIF frequently offers boating safety classes around the state.

Virginia Boater License

Although people frequently call a VA DGIF boating card a “Virginia boating license,” this is a misnomer. Licenses are documents that must be renewed and are generally issued for commercial boating purposes only. Although a boating safety course completion card serves a similar purpose as a boater license, a recreational license for boating does not exist.

Last updated on Monday, March 9 2020.