Take these steps and make sure that your boat is properly and lawfully registered in the Lone Star State.

In Texas, water is simply a way of life. From rivers to coastline to ponds to lakes (Texas has over 7,000 lakes and reservoirs), it’s just not a Texas summer day if you don’t spend some of it on a boat. But, before you pack your cooler full of snacks, stock up on your sunscreen and head out on the water, you must make sure your boat is registered and legal to take out. Follow our guide here to register your boat ASAP. 

Texas boat registration

How do I know if my boat needs to be registered?

In Texas, pretty much every single boat on the water must be registered with the Texas Parks and Wildlife office. All motorized vessels regardless of length (including sailboats with an auxiliary engine) as well as all non-motorized vessels (including sailboats) 14 feet or longer must be registered. Those vessels already documented with the US Coast Guard must also be registered to go out on the water in Texas. 

No matter where you are on Texas waters, you are required to have up-to-date registration. This includes any boats and vessels that are docked or moored.

What boats are exempt?

If your vessel fits one of these categories, it does not need to be registered with the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department.

  • Your vessel is a non-motorized canoe, kayak, punt, rowboat or rubber raft
  • Your vessel is under 14 feet in length and non-motorized
  • Your vessel is documented by the Coast Guard and used as a coastal shipping vessel
  • Your vessel exceeds 115 feet in length

How do I register my boat in the state of Texas?

To register your boat in Texas, you’ll need:

You’ll submit your required paperwork at:

  • Texas Parks and Wildlife Headquarters in Austin
  • Any Texas Parks and Wildlife Law Enforcement office in the state
  • Your local Tax Assessor-Collector Office

To register your boat, you will be required to present a current photo ID. You can pay with cash, check or money order.

How much does it cost to register a boat in the state of Texas?

To register your boat in Texas, you’ll pay a fee ranging from $32 to $150. You’ll also pay for a registration ID card and a certificate of title when registering your boat.

Vessel Registration

  • Less than 16 feet in length (Class A) – $32
  • 16 feet but less than 26 feet in length (Class 1) – $53
  • 26 feet but less than 40 feet in length (Class 2) – $110
  • 40 feet or more in length (Class 3) – $150
  • Livery Boat less than 16 feet in length (Class A) – $32

Certificate of Number (Registration ID Card)

  • Transfer of Ownership (any Texas registered vessel) – $11
  • Replacement Certificate of Number Card – $11
  • Corrected Certificate of Number Card – $11

Registration Replacement Decals

  • Replacement Registration Decals with new certificate of number card (required) – $22

Texas Certificate of Title

  • Certificate of Title- Vessel / Outboard Motor – $27
  • Certificate of Title- Transfer of Vessel / Outboard Motor – $27
  • Certificate of Title- Replacement for Lost or Destroyed Title – $27
  • Certificate of Title- Correction Transaction – $27
  • Certificate of Title- Bonded Title – $37
  • “Quick” Title (To expedite the replacement of lost or destroyed titles only) – $64


  • New Resident Tax (applies to owner relocating from out of state to Texas) – $15
  • Sales / Use Tax (percentage of the sales price) – 6.25%
  • Penalties and Interest (apply 20 business days after sales date)


  • Game Warden Inspection / State Assigned Hull Identification Number – $25
  • Ownership History Request – $11

Party Boats

  • Annual Party Boat Inspection – $132
  • New Party Boat Operators License – $132
  • Renew Existing Party Boat Operators License – $53
  • Replace a Lost or Destroyed Party Boat Operators License – $53
  • Update an Existing Party Boat Operators License – $53

How do I transfer boat ownership to my new boat?

If you just bought a boat that was previously registered in Texas, you must have the vessel/boat title, registration and outboard motor title changed to your name. By accompanying your seller to the TPWD office, both of you can ensure the transfer or ownership and liability. Your seller must also notify TPWD of the boat transfer.

What else do I need to know about boat registration in Texas?

  • Your registration is valid for two years and can be renewed up to 90 days before the expiration date in person, online or by mail
  • Your boat needs to be registered before it hits any water in the state of Texas to avoid penalties

In Texas, you’ll need a certificate to operate certain watercraft if you were born on or after September 1, 1993. Be sure that you’re properly educated and legal on the water by taking a BOATsmart! Course to get certified.