Pennsylvania’s Boat Registration Requirements

In order to legally operate a motorized boat (including boats with trolling motors), you must obtain a Pennsylvania Certificate of Boat Registration (registration card) and validation decals. The Certificate of Number must be carried on board and be available for inspection by an enforcement officer during boat operation.

Additionally, human-powered craft (such as canoes, kayaks, stand-up paddle boards, rowboats, etc.) must be registered or have a launch permit issued by the Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission (PFBC) or the Bureau of State Parks in order to legally operate on Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission (PFBC) lakes, state parks, or access areas.

The Certificate of Number and validation decals are valid for a period of 2 years and expire on March 31st, of the second year. They may be obtained by submitting an application and fee to:

Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission

Licensing and Registration Section

P.O. Box 67000

Harrisburg, PA 17106-7000

Pennsylvania’s Boat Titling Requirements

Boat titling (proof of ownership) is required for:

  • Motorized boats with inboard engines (regardless of length)
  • Motorized boats with outboard engines that are 14 feet or more in length with a model year of 1997 or newer
  • PWCs with a model year of 1997 or newer

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 affixed on both sides of the boat, placed within 6 inches from and be in line with, the registration number.
  • These placement requirements also apply to personal watercrafts (PWCs).


Documented vessels, as well as kayaks, sculls, sailboards and other low-volume boats of similar design, are exempt from the display of numbers, but they must display the validation decal. Inflatable boats may carry their numbers and validation decal on boards lashed to each side of the bow. Canoes are not exempt and must display the numbers and the decal.