Boat Registration and Licenses in Michigan
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- All vessels used on the state's waterways (public and private).
- Vessels 16 feet long or less that are powered by oars or paddles and are not used for commercial or rental purposes.
- Rafts, surfboards, sailboards, and swim floats (all sizes).
- Canoes and kayaks that don't have a motor and aren't used for rental or commercial purposes.
- Vessels currently registered in another state that are only being used in Michigan on a temporary basis.
- Locate your title or bill of sale.
- Be prepared to pay the registration fee.
- Register your vessel at your nearest Secretary of State (SOS) branch office.
Once you obtain the registration, be sure you display your Certificate of Number appropriately. The state has rigid guidelines.
Registration fees greatly vary, depending on the length and type of your vessel.
Your registration is valid for three years, and expires on March 31 of the final year. Renewal notices are mailed out a few weeks before the due date.
Renew in Person
If your name, address, or boat information has changed since your last registration, you must renew at a branch office. Bring your renewal notice and fee payment.
Renew by Mail
If you receive a renewal notice in the mail, you can easily renew without actually paying a visit to the Secretary of State.
- Make your check or money order payable to the State of Michigan; Visa, MasterCard, or Discover Card credit cards are also accepted for payment.
- Send your renewal notice and fee payment in the envelope provided.
- Your renewal material will be mailed to you within 14 business days.
If your address has changed, or your registration is expired, you can't renew online. Otherwise:
- Go to the renewal site and enter your PIN. (If you don't have one, you must renew in person or by mail.)
- Follow the instructions given to complete your renewal process.
- Pay your fee with your valid Visa, MasterCard, or Discover Card credit card.
Your renewal material will be mailed to you within seven business days.
Replace Lost Registration
- Locate your boat number and personal identification.
- Visit a branch office.
Although the state does not issue a boater license, if you were born after December 31, 1978, you must have a boating safety certificate to operate a personal watercraft.
Obtain your certificate by completing a state-approved safety education class.
Fulfill your safety education requirement by taking a classroom-setting boating class offered by the state. Dates and time vary by location.
Even if you're not required to take a class, doing so allows you to become a safer boater, while possibly reducing your insurance rates in the process.
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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- Boat Registration Requirements: How to Register Your Vessel
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