Ahoy, boaters, renewing online is easy!

Watercraft RenewalMARCH 15, 2018

Watercraft registration renewal notices are sent in March

With nearly 250,000 watercraft registration renewal notices in the mail this month, Secretary of State Ruth Johnson reminds boat owners of the ease and convenience of renewing online at ExpressSOS.com.

“We offer boaters a number of convenient ways to renew their watercraft registration, with the easiest and quickest being our online system ‘ExpressSOS.com,’” Johnson said. “With ExpressSOS.com, you can renew from wherever you have a smartphone or computer. Now, that’s painless!”

In 2017, about 53,500 watercraft renewals were submitted online.

Nicki Polan, executive director of the Michigan Boating Industries Association, thanked Johnson for her efforts in making watercraft renewal convenient.

“Secretary Johnson is a strong supporter of the recreational and commercial benefits boating provides to Michigan,” Polan said. “We’ve enjoyed having the Secretary of State Mobile Office at our boat shows, making it easy and fast for boaters to renew their registrations at our events. Michigan’s boating industry continues to grow and the online registration option is another example of how her efforts have improved services for customers.”

Watercraft renewals also may be completed by mail or at a Secretary of State office. Renewals involving a change in name or watercraft information must be completed at an office.

Discover, MasterCard and Visa debit and credit cards are accepted when renewing online or at an office. Cash, checks and money orders are accepted at all offices.

In Michigan, there are nearly 940,000 watercraft on file with the Secretary of State’s Office. Registrations are issued for three years and expire on March 31 of the third year.

All watercraft on Michigan waters, including privately owned lakes and waterways, must be registered except for:

  • Watercraft 16 feet or less, propelled by oars or paddles that are 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.
  • Watercraft registered in another state and used only temporarily in Michigan.

A boating safety certificate is required to operate a personal watercraft for anyone born after Dec. 31, 1978. Personal watercraft operators must be at least age 16. Children ages 14 or 15 may operate one if they are accompanied by a parent, guardian or designated adult age 21 or older, or if they are operating one within 100 feet of a parent, legal guardian or designated adult age 21 or older.


For media questions, please call Fred Woodhams at 517-373-2520.

Customers may call the Department of State Information Center to
speak to a customer-service representative at 888-SOS-MICH (767-6424).