Watercraft - Registration Requirements
All watercraft, unless exempt, must be registered with the Michigan Department of State and display a registration decal. Once a registration number has been assigned, it cannot be transferred to another watercraft. For most watercraft, the registration fee is based on length. All registrations expire on March 31 in the third year of issuance.
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.
Watercraft Registration - Renewal
Watercraft registrations may be renewed online through ExpressSOS. You may also submit a change of address online when renewing. (Changes to the owner name or watercraft information must be made at a Secretary of State office.) Pay using a Discover, Visa or MasterCard debit or credit card or eCheck. A nominal processing fee may be charged. If renewing while logged into your account, you can print your new registration at the end of the transaction. Your watercraft decal and an additional copy of your registration should arrive by mail within 14 business days. If you renew using the quick renewal option, you cannot print your new registration at the end of the transaction; you will receive your registration and decal in the mail.
Mail your renewal notice and payment in the enclosed envelope. If you do not have the enclosed envelope, the address is Renewal by Mail, 7064 Crowner Drive, Lansing, MI 48918. Pay by check or money order. Changes of address can be noted on the renewal notice but changes to your name or watercraft information must be submitted at a Secretary of State office. Your new registration and watercraft decal should arrive by mail within 14 business days.
Bring your watercraft registration or the MC number when renewing at a Secretary of State office. Pay by cash, check, money order, or with a Discover, MasterCard or Visa debit or credit card. A nominal processing fee will be charged for credit or debit card use. Your new watercraft registration and decal will be given to you at the counter.
Watercraft Registration - Correcting Information
Change of Address
You may submit a change of address for your watercraft registration online through ExpressSOS, by mail, or at a Secretary of State office.
To make changes other than your address, please visit a Secretary of State office.
Watercraft Registration - Transferring Ownership
If the watercraft is not titled, simply complete the back of your watercraft registration as part of the transfer or sale. If you have lost the registration, then complete a bill of sale with the year, make, hull identification number, registration number (if available), and the names and addresses of the buyer and seller. If you need a duplicate watercraft registration, you may obtain one online through ExpressSOS or at a Secretary of State office.
Watercraft Title - Requirements
All watercraft 20 feet and longer, and all watercraft with a permanently affixed engine, regardless of length, must be titled. Watercraft not required to be titled may be titled as an option.
Watercraft Title - Transferring Ownership
If the watercraft is titled, the assigned title is used to transfer ownership. If the title is lost, a duplicate title may be ordered online through ExpressSOS or at a Secretary of State office. Without an assigned title, a court order or surety bond is needed to transfer ownership.
If the new owner does not want a title, and the watercraft does not need a title to list a lien (bank loan), the previous owner's title is surrendered when the buyer transfers the registration into their name. Any Secretary of State office can arrange to have the previous title cancelled.
U.S. Coast Guard Documentation - Transferring Ownership
To transfer ownership of a watercraft documented through the U.S. Coast Guard, the buyer will need the assigned registration and the Coast Guard documentation papers in the new owner's name.
Related Documents and Topics
- Renew Watercraft
- Duplicate Registration
- Duplicate Title
- Recreational Vehicle and Watercraft Fees
- Additional DNR Watercraft Information
- Displaying Decals on Mopeds, Watercraft & Snowmobiles
- Watercraft Renewal Guide
- Riding a Moped Safely
- Off Road Vehicles (ORV)
- Historic Snowmobile Registrations