With more than 60,000 lakes, ponds and rivers in the state of Ohio, it’s a must to spend every sunny day you can on the water. Whether you’re an angler, a boater or a water-sport fanatic, Ohio boat days are simply some of the best in the nation. If you’re going to take your boat out on Ohio waters, it must be registered to ensure legal operation. 

With BOATsmart!’s guide to Ohio boat registration, we’ve compiled everything you need to know about boating safely and legally.

How Do I Know if My Boat Needs to Be Registered?

Every recreational boat in Ohio must be registered with the state, including:

  • Powerboats
  • Sailboats
  • Canoes
  • Kayaks
  • Pedal Boats
  • Inflatable boats

What Boats Are Exempt From Boat Registration in Ohio?

In Ohio, kiteboards, paddleboards and belly boats do not have to be registered as a boat. The following are also exempt from displaying OH numbers:

  • Manually-propelled vessels using Alternative Registration
  • Vessels documented by the US Coast Guard
  • Boats numbered by another state and not used in this state for more than 60 days
  • Boats from a country other than the United States temporarily using Ohio water
  • Boats owned by the United States, a state, or a political subdivision
  • A ship’s lifeboat
  • Vessels exempted by the chief of the Division of Parks & Watercraft
  • Vessels under a waiver issued for a race or special event

How Do I Register My Boat in the State of Ohio?

Registering your boat in Ohio can be done in person at a Boat Registration Agent or through the mail with the Watercraft Office. When registering your boat in Ohio, you’ll need:

  • Proof of ownership
    • For non-titled boats, proof of ownership can be the manufacturer’s statement of origin, the bill of sale, a signed-over registration from the previous owner or a notarized affidavit of ownership
    • For titled boats, proof of ownership is an Ohio title in the owner’s name
  • Boat details (owner will fill out Certified Watercraft Registration Application (DNR 8460R))
    • Hull identification number (HIN) or serial number
    • Boat number (if previously registered in the state)
    • Make, length and year of vessel
    • Hull material
  • Drivers license
  • Appropriate registration fee

How Much Does Boat Registration Cost in the State of Ohio?

Ohio Registration Fees for Any Boat with Motor or Sail

Length of BoatPowered by MotorPowered by Sail Only(no motor)
Any boat less than 16 feet or any motorized canoe$33$38
Boats 16 feet but less than 26 feet$48$53
Boats 26 feet but less than 40 feet$63$68
Boats 40 feet but less than 65 feet$78$83
Boats 65 feet or longer$93$98

Registration Fees for Hand-powered Vessels – No Motor, No Sail

(canoe, kayak, rowboat, inflatable, racing shell, rowing scull, pedal boat)

Any Length Fee
Traditional Registration — two decals providedyou provide/apply/display OH numbers$20
Alternative Registration — one decal providedno OH numbers required        $25

Adding a Motor to a Boat Previously Registered as Hand-powered – Prorated Fees

Boat Length3 Years Remaining2 Years Remaining1 Year Remaining
Under 16 feet and all canoes$21$15$9
16 feet to less than 26 feet$36$25$14

How Do I Transfer Boat Ownership to My New Boat?

To transfer boat ownership to your new boat, you must present a notarized title showing the signature of the seller and you as the buyer. If the boat isn’t titled and doesn’t require one, proof of ownership can simply be the old registration signed over to the new owner. This must be done in person with a Boat Registration Agent.

If you buy a used boat that has time remaining on its registration, you will pay an additional $5 fee.

Will I Need to Take a Boater Safety Education Course?

In the state of Ohio, anyone born after January 1, 1982, must obtain an Ohio Boater Education Card to operate any boat powered by a motor. 

Regardless of your age or experience level, we’re big believers in boating safety — and that’s where BOATsmart! comes in. As a program officially recognized by the US Coast Guard and the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators, our course is sure to have you educated, knowledgeable and safe on the water.

What Else Do I Need to Know About Boat Registration in Ohio?

In Ohio, boat registration is valid for three years and expires on March 1. Existing registration can be renewed online, as long as you have all the needed information.

There are specific requirements for displaying your boat’s numbers and decals, and they must be visible in normal conditions.
The boat registration laws in Ohio require most boats to be registered, and it requires every recreational boat to be. We love spending long, sunny days out on the Ohio waters and doing so safely, so use BOATsmart! as your boating safety partner.