Maryland’s Boat Registration and Titling Requirements
In order to legally operate a boat in the state, Maryland’s boat registration regulations require boaters to obtain a Certificate of Number and validation decals. The Certificate of Number must be on board and available for inspection by an enforcement officer during boat operation.
The Certificate of Number and validation decals can be obtained by submitting an application and fee to the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, Licensing and Registration Service. The Certificate of Number is valid for 2 years and expires on December 31st, of the second year.
Note: A boat’s trailer must also be registered with the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration.
Boat Registration Exemptions:
- Human-powered boats.
- Boats registered in another state.
- Boats that have been documented by the Coast Guard.
Maryland’s Boat Titling Requirements
All boats that require registration in Maryland are also required to be titled. Without a valid title, a boat will not be registered or be able to renew an application for registration. Payment of vessel excise tax must accompany an application for a title (all vessel excise tax is deposited into the Waterway Improvement Fund).
Other Registration Info
The Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) must be notified within 15 days when:
- A boat is sold, traded or transferred.
- A boat is stolen, lost or destroyed.
Boat Registration Number and Decal Placement:
- The numbers must be applied as a decal, painted or permanently affixed to each side of the boat’s bow (boat owners are not permitted to display any other numbers in this area).
- The numbers 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 must be separated from the letters by a hyphen or by an equivalent space.
- The numbers must be read from left to right.
- Validation decals must be placed on both sides of the boat, be within 3 inches of the registration number and be above, below or beside the registration number.
- These placement requirements also apply to personal watercraft (PWCs).