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.

What Boats to Register in NC

  • 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.

Boat Registration Requirements and Procedures

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:

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.

North Carolina Boat Registration Fees

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.

Registration Renewals and Replacements

A renewal notification form may be mailed to you before your registration expires.

Renew Online

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.

Boater Safety Courses

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 third parties provide convenient online classes—check with the WRC for details.
  • Classroom course: Taught throughout the state by the Wildlife Resources Commission.

Boat Insurance in NC

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.



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

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