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Boat Registration and Licenses in North Carolina

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North Carolina Boat Registration and Licenses

The Wildlife Resources Commission (WRC) is the agency responsible for the titling and registration of boats in North Carolina.

Keep reading to learn about vessel titles and registration AND the qualifications needed to operate watercraft on NC waters.

NC Boats to Title & Register

The NC WRC requires the following types of boats to be titled:

  • Motorized boats.
  • Sailboats 14 ft or more in length.
  • Personal watercraft (e.g. jet skis).

Vessels requiring registration with the WRC include:

  • Watercraft powered by a motor (including trolling motors and jet skis).
  • Any boat registered in another state being used in North Carolina for more than 90 days.
  • Vessels documented with the U.S. Coast Guard used in NC for more than 90 days.
  • Sailboats measuring more than 14 ft.

Boats that are exempt from the WRC's registration requirements include:

  • Rowboats, canoes, and rafts powered only by oars or paddles.
  • Ship 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.

Still unsure about whether your vessel needs titling and/or registration? Call the NC Wildlife Resources Commission at (800) 628-3773.

How to Title & Register Your Vessel

To title and/or register your vessel with the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission, begin by gathering:

Then, complete the titling/registration process by submitting the required items above:

  • In person at any WRC agency.
  • By mail to:
    • North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission
    • Transaction Management
    • 1709 Mail Service Center
    • Raleigh, NC 27699

Your boat registration will be valid for 1 year or 3 years, depending on what you select on the application.

NC Boat Title & Registration Fees

The fees associated with titling and registering your boat with the NC WRC depend on the length of your boat and are as follows:

  • Vessels measuring less than 14 ft (except for personal watercraft):
    • Initial registration for:
      • 1 year without a title: $35.
      • 1 year with a title: $70.
      • 3 years without a title: $95.
      • 3 years with a title: $130.
    • Registration renewal for:
      • 1 year: $33.
      • 3 years: $93.
  • Vessels at least 14 ft but less than 26 ft AND all personal watercraft:
    • Original registration:
      • 1 year with a title: $70.
      • 3 years with a title: $130.
    • Registration renewal:
      • 1 year: $33.
      • 3 years: $93.
  • Vessels 26 ft and longer:
    • Initial registration:
      • 1 year with title: $90.
      • 3 years with title: $190.
    • Renewal:
      • 1 year: $53.
      • 3 years: $153.
  • Replacement:
    • Boat title:
      • Without a lien: $15.
      • With a lien: $15.
    • Vessel registration: $8.

NC Vessel Registration Renewals

The NC Wildlife Resources Commission will mail you a renewal notice (with a unique renewal number) before your boat registration is set to expire.

You can renew your registration by providing the required information on your renewal notice AND payment for the applicable renewal fees:

If you lost your renewal notice or didn't receive one, you'll need to provide personal identification information AND your boat's HIN when renewing your registration.

Duplicate Boat Registration & Title

If your boat registration or title is lost or damaged, you'll need to request a duplicate from the North Carolina WRC.

You can request a replacement registration:

To apply for a duplicate boat title, you'll need to mail a completed Vessel Title Request Form (REV 2014) AND the appropriate replacement title fees to:

North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission
Transaction Management
1709 Mail Service Center
Raleigh, NC 27699

North Carolina Boater Qualifications

If you were born after January 1, 1988, you must carry a boating safety certificate to operate any vessel propelled by an engine with 10 horsepower or more on public waters.

You can earn your boating safety certificate by completing a boating education course, approved by the NC Wildlife Resources Commission, online OR in the classroom. Head over to the WRC's page on boating education courses for a complete list of approved education providers.

Additionally, the WRC enforces certain age restrictions when it comes to using personal watercraft (PWC) on North Carolina's waters. If you are:

  • Younger than 14 years old, you CANNOT operate personal watercraft.
  • At least 14 years old but younger than 16 years old, you CAN use PWC as long as:
    • You're supervised by someone who's at least 18 years old.
      OR
    • You carry a valid document to prove your age (e.g. driver's license or ID card) AND a boating safety certificate.

Even if it's not required, you should still consider enrolling in a boater safety course. Doing so will make you a better boater AND could earn you discounts on boat insurance.

Forms

VL-1

Use this form to register vessels/watercraft in North Carolina.

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