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

Exemptions:

  • A boat that is properly registered in another state using Rhode Island waters for 90 days or less.
  • Boats from another country temporarily using Rhode Island waters.
  • A ships lifeboats.
  • Boats used only for racing.
  • A human-powered rowboat less than 12 feet in length.
  • A canoe or kayak.
  • A ferry.

Outboard engines also must be registered in Rhode Island. This is a one-time registration that does not expire.

Rhode Island registers boats on a 2-year basis with an option to register boats greater than 30 feet on an annual basis for half the 2-year fee. A registration year is March 1st through the last day of February of the following year. The Certificate of Number may be obtained by submitting an application and fee to the following address:

Department of Environmental Management

Licensing and Registration

235 Promenade Street

Providence, RI 02908

Telephone: 401-222-6647

You are required to notify the Department of Environmental Management 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.

Lost or destroyed Certificates of Number can be replaced. You must complete and submit a form and a processing fee within 30 days.

If boat ownership changes, a new registration application must be filed within 30 days (the registration number assigned to the boat will remain the same).

Registration Number and Validation Decals:

  • The number 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 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 an equivalent space.
  • The number must be read from left to right.
  • The number must be visible from at least 100 feet away.
  • Validation decals must be affixed on both sides of the boat and placed to the right of and in line with the registration number.
  • The same placement requirements apply to personal watercraft (PWCs).

Titling Requirements

Rhode Island requires all boats to be titled.

Exemptions include:

  • A ships lifeboats.
  • Human-powered inflatable boats.
  • Surfboards.
  • Rowboats.
  • Boats that have been federally documented by the Coast Guard.
  • Boats less than 14 feet in length.