Boat Registration and Licenses in North Carolina
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North Carolina Boat Registration and Licenses
The Wildlife Resources Commission is the agency responsible for the registration of boats in North Carolina.
If you just purchased your boat and want it to be ready to cruise the coast legally, take some time to browse through the following instructions.
- All motorized boats.
- Any sailboat longer than14 feet.
- Any titled boat (titling is optional).
What Not to Register
- Non-motorized rowboats.
- Non-motorized canoes.
- Non-motorized rafts.
- Ships' lifeboats, if only used for emergency purposes.
- Any type of boat used only on a private pond.
- Any boat registered in another state, or documented with the U.S. Coast Guard and not kept in North Carolina for more than 90 consecutive days.
You can register your boat for either 1 year or 3 years.
NOTE: Registering for longer is less expensive per year.
Registering a New Vessel
To register and title your boat in North Carolina:
- Complete a NC Vessel Registration & Title Application (Form VL-1).
- Specify if you're only registering OR registering and titling, and for 1 year or 3 years.
- Submit the completed form along with proof of ownership (title or bill of sale).
- Pay all applicable fees.
You can do this in person at any Wildlife Service Agent location, or through the mail. Just mail all your documents and fees to the address listed on the form.
Registering a Used Vessel
Click on the Wildlife Resources Commission link for instructions.
The fees you pay for registering your boat will vary depending on its size as well as other factors.
Refer to the NC Vessel Registration & Title Application (Form VL-1) for a detailed list of fees.
A renewal notification form may be mailed to you before your registration expires.
You can renew your boat registration online using either VISA or MasterCard.
Renew by Phone
To complete a vessel registration renewal over the phone, you will need to call (800) 628-3773, Monday to Friday 8 a.m.-5 p.m.
Renew in Person
You can also process your boat registration renewal in person by visiting any Wildlife Service Agent location.
Replace Lost Boat Registration
To apply for a duplicate boat registration card, simply complete a NC Vessel Registration & Title Application (Form VL-1) and either mail it or drop it off in person at any Wildlife Service Agent location.
You can also request a duplicate registration over the phone by calling (800) 628-3773, Monday to Friday 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Or, order a duplicate online.
If you were born after January 1, 1988, you must carry proof of completing a state-approved boater safety course in order to operate any vessel propelled by an engine with a 10 horsepower or greater engine on public waters.
- Online: State-approved BOATERexam.com provides a convenient online class.
- Classroom course: Taught throughout the state by the Wildlife Resources Commission.
Although the state does not require insurance to complete your boat registration, it's a really good idea to have a solid policy anyway.
To find out if purchasing a policy is right for you, read through our page about Boat Insurance in North Carolina.