Boat Registration Requirements

In order to legally operate a motorized boat in North Dakota, you must obtain a Certificate of Number (registration card) and validation decals. The Certificate of Number must be carried on board and be available for inspection by an enforcement officer during operation.

Boat Registration Exemptions:

  • Human-powered craft.
  • Boats that are properly registered in another state that are using North Dakota waters for less than 90 consecutive days.
  • Boats documented by the U.S. Coast Guard.

The Certificate of Number may be obtained by submitting an application and fee to the North Dakota Game and Fish Department. It is valid for 3 years and expires on December 31st of the 3rd year.

Boat owners are required to notify the Game and Fish Department within 15 days if any of the following occur:

  • There is a change of address.
  • There is a change of boat ownership.
  • The boat is destroyed or abandoned.
  • The boat is stolen or recovered.

Note: A Certificate of Number is not transferable. Anyone purchasing a boat must register the boat in their name even if the boat is already registered by the previous owner.

If the Certificate of Number is lost or destroyed, you must apply to the North Dakota Game and Fish Department and pay a fee in order to obtain a replacement.

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 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 must be separated from the letters by a hyphen or by a space equivalent in width to a letter or number.
  • The numbers must be read from left to right.
  • The numbers must be visible from at least 100 feet away.
  • Validation decals must be affixed on both sides of the boat, placed within 6 inches of the registration number and to the rear of the boat.

North Dakota’s Boat Registration Fees:

  • Motorized boats under 16 feet in length: $12.
  • Canoes powered by a motor (regardless of length): $12.
  • Motorized boats 16-20 feet in length: $24.
  • Motorized boats 20 feet in length or over: $33.