Boat Registration and Licenses in Iowa
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- All boats used on Iowa's public waterways, including personal watercraft.
- Inflatable vessels less than seven feet long.
- Canoes or kayak-type vessels (no sail or motor) less than 13 feet long.
- Properly registered out-of-state vessels using Iowa's public waterways for 60 days or less within a calendar year.
- A ship's lifeboat.
- Public boats used for search-and-rescue missions.
If you have purchased a new boat or are a new boat-owning resident of Iowa, you will have to register your vessel. Here's how:
- Complete the necessary application.
- Provide the necessary fees.
- Go to your local county recorder's office (if you're a non-resident, register at the county where you will most use your vessel).
- You'll be given a registration card and decals. Keep the registration card on board whenever you're operating the vessel.
Call (515) 281-5918 for answers to any other registration questions.
Boats without a sail or motor carry a $5 registration fee.
Those with a sail or motor must adhere to the following schedule, which is based on the length of the vessel:
- Less than 12': $8
- 12' to less than 15': $10
- 15' to less than 18': $12
- 18' to less than 25': $18
- 25' or longer: $28
Registrations are valid for three years and expire on April 30 of the renewal year. When its time to renew, simply:
- Bring your renewal fee.
- Provide your boat number or current registration card.
- Head over to your county recorder's office.
Replace Lost Registration
To operate a personal watercraft or a motorboat, with more than a 10 horsepower engine, you'll need to successfully complete an approved safety education class if you are between the ages of 12 and 17. Otherwise, the teenager will require qualified adult supervision.
After completing the course, you'll be given a watercraft safety certificate. You must be able to show the certificate whenever requested by Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) officers.
If you're interested in taking a safety course, it must be approved by the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA), or else Iowa will not recognize it.
The state, itself, provides a Boat Iowa Course. The class is available through classroom or home study instruction for a $5 fee. The course is at least six hours long. A passing score of 80% or higher is required.
Visit the DNR Boater Education page for sign-up information, or call (515) 281-5918.
Some third-party providers also offer approved online safety courses, too.
Even if you're not required to complete a safety education class, these courses offer valuable information and make you a better boater, while potentially reducing the cost of your insurance.
Other Topics in This Section
- Register Car
- Registration Renewal
- Registration & Insurance
- Replacing a Lost Registration
- RV & Motorhome Registration
- Custom Built Car Registration
- Boat Registration and Licenses
- Title Transfers
- Replacing a Lost Title
- Salvaged Vehicles
- Special Vehicles
- Drivers with Disabilities
- License Plates & Placards
- Smog & Emission Checks
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- How to Replace Lost Boat or RV Registration
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- Boat License Requirements: Learn How to Apply for Your Boat License
- Boat Registration Requirements: How to Register Your Vessel
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