All motorized boats in the state of Virginia are required to be registered. Upon registration, the boat owner will be issued a Certificate of Number and validation decals.
Certificates of Number can be obtained through the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries. Boat owners must submit an application and pay a fee in order to register their boat. The Certificate of Number must be carried on board the boat at all times while the boat is being operated.
A Certificate of Title must also be obtained for boats that are propelled by machinery, including gasoline, diesel and electric motors, as well as sail-powered boats that are over 18 feet in length.
Boat registrations are valid for 3 years. Renewals will be mailed to the last known address of the boat owner, approximately 45 days prior to expiration.
- Boats that have been registered in another state and are operating on Virginia Waters for 90 consecutive days or less.
- Human-powered craft.
- Boats that have been documented by the Coast Guard.
- Boats that have a valid temporary registration.
Boat Registration Number and Decal Placement:
- The numbers must be painted or otherwise permanently affixed to each side of the boat’s bow (no other numbers may be displayed on either side of the bow).
- The color of the registration number must contrast with the color of the boat.
- The numbers must be in plain block letters and be at least 3 inches high.
- The numbers must be read from left to right.
- The numbers and letters must be separated by a hyphen or by an equivalent space.
- Decals must be affixed to each side of the boat, within 6 inches and in line with the registration number.
- These placement requirements also apply to personal watercrafts (PWCs).
Other Boat Registration Info
Boat owners must notify the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, within 15 days if:
- The boat is abandoned or destroyed.
- The boat is sold, or the ownership is transferred.
- There is a change of address.