Boat Registration and Licenses in Iowa

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Boat Registration and Licensing in Iowa

If you live in Iowa and operate a boat, you're going to need to register it with the Department of Natural Resources.

On this page, you can read all about how to register your boat, renew your boat registration, and apply for a duplicate copy of your boat registration.

What to Register

  • All boats used on Iowa's public waterways, including personal watercraft.

Requirements and Procedures For Boats in Iowa

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:

  1. Complete the necessary Application for Boats, Snowmobiles, ATVs and ORVs (DNR Form 542-8067)
  2. Provide the necessary fees.
  3. 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).
  4. You'll be given a registration card and decals. Keep the registration card on board whenever you're operating the vessel.

Registrations are valid for 3 years and expire on April 30th. If you allow your registration to expire you will be charged a $5 penalty. For more registration information call (515) 25-8200.

Fees For Iowa Boat Registration

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:

  • 12 ft: $8.
  • 12 ft to 15 ft: $10.
  • 15 ft to 18 ft: $12.
  • 18 ft to 25 ft: $18.
  • 25 ft or longer: $28.

These fees are based on an odd numbered year registration. Vessels registered on an even numbered year will pay half the above fees. You will also have to pay a $1 writing fee to the County Recorder.

Boat Registration Renewals and Replacements

Registrations are valid for 3 years and expire on April 30th of the renewal year. If your registration is late you will pay a $5 penalty. When its time to renew, simply:

  1. Bring your renewal fee.
  2. Provide your boat number or current registration card.
  3. Head over to your county recorder's office.

Replace Lost Registration

Duplicate registrations are available by applying in person. You will need to:

Boater License in Iowa

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 12 and 17 years old. 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.

Boater Safety Course

If you're interested in taking a safety course in Iowa, 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. You can visit the DNR Boater Education page for sign-up information, or call (515) 25-8200.

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.

Boat Insurance in Iowa

You should consider applying for a boat insurance policy if you're going to be cruising on public waters. You'll want to be properly covered in case you're ever involved in an accident.

For more information, please visit our page to get an online boat insurance quote.

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