Boat Registration and Licenses in Indiana

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Indiana Boat Registration and Licenses

The Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV) handles the registration and titling of all water crafts. You must register all motorized vessels in Indiana, including personal watercraft and motorized sailboats.

To find out whether you need to register and title your boat, and specific details about the boat registration process, continue reading this page.

Exemptions From IN Boat Title Requirements

  • Lifeboats of a ship.
  • Watercraft based in another country that are temporarily in the state.
  • Watercraft that have a value of less than $3,000 when purchased new.
  • Non-resident boats currently registered in another state that haven't been in Indiana for more than 60 consecutive days.

Register Your Boat in Indiana

To register your boat in Indiana, visit your local IN BMV office in person. You will need proof of ownership and payment for the required registration fees (see "IN Boat Registration Fees" below).

NOTE: All motorboats are required to be registered and to display their watercraft decals while operating in Indiana waters. Only a few boats are exempt from registration (see "Boats Exempt from Registration" below).

Boats Exempt from Registration

  • Non-motorized boats such as canoes, paddle boats, and rowboats.
  • Motorboats being used temporarily in IN which are from another country.
  • Motorboats legally registered in another state and:
    • Will be used in IN for no more than 60 consecutive days.
    • The owner has paid the Indiana excise tax
  • Boats moored on Lake Michigan for no more than 180 days.

If you have a sailboat, it must display watercraft decals and you will need to pay the excise tax and any applicable fees.

IN Boat Registration Fees

The first time you register your boat, your fees will include a "lake and river enhancement" fee which is based on the value of your boat. You will also need to pay a Department of Natural Resources fee of $5. Your registration fee will depend on the size of your boat, as follows:

  • 13 ft or less: $15.
  • 13 ft up to 26 ft: $18.
  • 26 ft up to 40 ft: $21.
  • 40 ft or longer: $24.

Sales Tax

If you purchased your watercraft from an individual or an out-of-state dealer, you will need to pay a 7% Indiana sales tax. The purchase price of the watercraft and motor will be subject to the sales tax which can be paid at an Indiana license agency.

If you already paid the sales tax to an out-of-state dealer and the tax was less than 7%, you will need to pay the difference while at the IN BMV office. Indiana dealers collect the sales tax at the time of purchase, so if you bought your boat in state, you shouldn't have to worry about adding this to your registration fees.

Boat Registration Renewals and Replacements

When it's time to renew your boat registration, you can do so in person or by mail.

Renew in Person

To renew your boat registration in person, you must bring the registration renewal reminder letter you'll receive in the mail to any Indiana BMV office and pay the renewal fee.

Renew by Mail

To renew by mail, simply follow the instructions given on your renewal reminder letter. Be sure to include your fee payment.

Replace Lost Registration

To receive a duplicate registration, you must visit your local Indiana BMV office and bring your hull identification number (HIN) along with some form of identification, such as your IN driver's license or state ID card.

A duplicate registration card will cost $9.50.

IN Boater License

You must be at least 15 years old to operate a motorboat or personal watercraft on the state's public waterways. If you do not do not hold an IN driver's license, you must have an ID pass verifying that you completed a department-approved boater safety course. Beyond this, the state of Indiana doesn't issue boater's licenses.

Boater Safety Courses

To fulfill your boater safety class requirement, you may complete a course online through an approved provider. Course fees and hours will vary depending on your provider.

Even if you are not required to complete a boater safety course in IN, it might be a good idea to complete one anyway. The course will help you become a safer boater and you may even save money on your insurance.

Boat Insurance in Indiana

If you're ever involved in a boat collision, you're definitely going to want to invest in a good boat insurance policy.

Even though you are not required to carry insurance in order to register your boat in Illinois, you should check out our Boat Insurance page to see if getting a policy is right for you.

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