Boat Registration

The Michigan Secretary of State provides registration and registration renewals.

Boats are numbered according to state and federal regulations. These regulations help protect people from careless boat operators and improperly equipped boats. A Certificate of Number is issued to tell enforcement officers that a boat is properly registered. The numbers must be displayed properly on the boat.

The law requires:

  1. The figures are to be read from left to right.
  2. They must be displayed on the forward half of each side of the bow of the boat.
  3. Numbers must be bold, block letters of good proportion.
  4. Numbers must not be less than three inches high.
  5. They must be of contrasting color to the boat hull or background.
  6. They must be as high above the waterline as practical.
  7. No number other than the number assigned can be displayed on the forward half of the vessel.
  8. Letters must be separated from numbers by spaces or hyphens.
  9. Validation decals must be three inches to the right of the last letter displayed.
  10. Boat Certificate of Registration must be carried on vessel when being operated.

Watercraft exempt from registration are:

  • Those 16 feet or shorter, propelled by oars or paddles, and not used for rental or commercial purposes;
  • Nonmotorized canoes and kayaks not used for rental or commercial purposes, rafts, surfboards, sailboards, and swim floats, regardless of length; and
  • Watercraft registered in another state and used only temporarily in Michigan.

Registration Fee

  • A 15-day permit issued under subsection (3): $10.00
  • Nonpowered vessels, other than nonmotorized canoes or kayaks: 9.00
  • Nonmotorized canoes or kayaks: 5.00
  • Motorboats less than 12 feet in length: 14.00
  • Motorboats 12 feet or over but less than 16 feet in length: 17.00
  • Motorboats 16 feet or over but less than 21 feet in length: 42.00
  • Motorboats 21 feet or over but less than 28 feet in length: 115.00
  • Motorboats 28 feet or over but less than 35 feet in length: 168.00
  • Motorboats 35 feet or over but less than 42 feet in length: 244.00
  • Motorboats 42 feet or over but less than 50 feet in length: 280.00
  • Motorboats 50 feet in length or over: 448.00
  • Pontoon vessels regardless of size: 23.00
  • Motorized canoes regardless of size: 14.00
  • Vessels licensed under part 473: 15.00
  • Vessels carrying passengers for hire that are in compliance with part 445, or under federal law; and vessels carrying passengers and freight or freight only and owned within this state or hailing from a port within this state: 45.00

The length of a vessel is the distance from end to end over the deck, excluding the longitudinal upward or downward curve of the deck, fore and aft. A pontoon boat shall be measured by the length of its deck, fore and aft.