Alaska's State Boating Laws

In order to legally operate a motorized boat in the state of Alaska, you must obtain a Certificate of Number and validation decals (boat registration). The state of Alaska does not title boats.

A Certificate of Number can be obtained through the Alaska Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) by submitting the required documentation and fees. Upon registration, boat owners will receive their Certificate of Number and decals. The Certificate of Number must be on board and available for inspection by an enforcement officer during operation.

The Certificate of Number is valid for three years and expires on the last day of the month, at the end of the three year period.

A Certificate of Number issued by the Coast Guard (prior to 2001) will still be valid until the expiration date, unless the boat changes ownership.  When the Coast Guard-issued registration expires, the boat owner must renew the registration with the Alaska DMV.

The following boats must be registered in Alaska:

  • All motorized boats (including human-powered boats with auxiliary power units) that are used on any waterway of the state.
  • All sport fishing guide boats (both motorized and human-powered).

Boat Registration Exemptions:

  • Federally documented boats.
  • Boats owned by the United States government.
  • Motorized boats that are registered in another state or country and are temporarily using Alaska’s waters, for a period of less than 90 consecutive days.
  • A ships lifeboats (so long as they are only used for lifesaving purposes).
  • Human-powered craft (i.e. kayaks, rafts and canoes).

 Boat Registration Number and Decal Placement:

  • Numbers must be applied as a decal, painted or permanently affixed to the forward half of each side of the boat (boat owners are not permitted to display any other numbers in this area).
  • The registration number must be in bold block letters that are at least 3 inches high and in a color that contrasts with the color of the boat.
  • The numbers in the registration number must be separated from the letters by a hyphen or by an equivalent space.
  • The number must be read from left to right.
  • Validation decals must be placed within 6 inches of the registration number on both sides of the boat.

Note: Personal watercraft (PWCs) require the same placement for the registration number and decals.

Alaska’s Hull Identification Number Requirements

Owners of homemade boats must obtain a Hull Identification Number from the Alaska Division of Motor Vehicles.

Other Boat Registration Info

If a boat is destroyed, sold, or abandoned, the owner of the boat must notify the Alaska DMV within 15 days. If the owner of a numbered boat changes their address, they must provide the DMV with their new address within 15 days, and pay a fee to receive a new Certificate of Number with their updated address.

If the Certificate of Number or validation decals are lost or destroyed, you must apply to the Alaska DMV and pay a fee in order to obtain a replacement.