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Boat Registration and Licenses in Washington

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All vessel registrations and titles in Washington are processed through the Department of Licensing (DOL), while the WA State Parks and Recreation Commission enforces all boating regulations in the state. 

Continue reading for all the information you need about titling and registering watercraft AND to learn about the state's boater requirements.

Boat Title & Registration Requirements

In Washington, you must title AND register ALL motor AND/OR sail-powered vessels.

A few examples of common vessels that do not require title/registration include:

  • Boats powered only by paddles or oars, like:
    • Canoes.
    • Kayaks. 
    • Rowboats.
  • Vessels owned by a U.S. government agency.
  • Properly documented watercraft used primarily for commerce. 
  • Motorboats under 16 ft. long with no more than 10 horsepower AND not used on federal waters.
  • Any boat registered in another state OR country and not kept in Washington for more than 60 days.
  • Military vessels.
  • Boats that are for sale and held by a licensed dealer.
  • Vessels used exclusively for commercial fishing.

Check out the DOL's boat registration page for a complete list of watercraft exempt from the WA titling and registration requirement.

If you're still not sure whether you'll need to title and register your vessel, call the Washington Department of Licensing at (360) 902-3770 for clarification. 

Title & Register Your Vessel in Washington

In Washington, you're required to title and register your vessel:

  • Within 15 days of buying it if you purchased the boat in Washington.
  • Within 15 days of purchasing it if you're a current WA resident AND bought the vessel out-of-state.
  • Within 60 days of moving to Washington if you're a new WA resident, needing to transfer your current out-of-state vessel title/registration.

To title and register your boat with the WA Department of Licensing, collect the following items:

  • A completed Vessel Title Application (Form TD-420-289).
    • If you bought your boat from a dealer, the dealer will fill out the form for you.
  • Proof of ownership:
    • New boats: Manufacturer's Statement of Origin.
    • Used boats from Washington: Certificate of title assigned in your name.
    • Boats from out-of-state: Out-of-state title AND registration in your name.
      • If you're moving from a state that doesn't title vessels, the properly assigned boat registration will suffice.
  • Proof of paid sales tax—if you didn't pay sales tax, you'll need to provide payment for use tax.
  • Payment for all applicable WA boat title and registration fees.

Submit your application for a boat title and registration in person OR by mail to any Department of Licensing office.

Washington vessel registrations are renewed annually and expire on June 30.

Washington Boat Title & Registration Fees

The costs of titling and registering your boat with the WA Department of Licensing are extensive—the list below will give you an idea of what fees you might expect. To make things easier, consider using the DOL's fee calculator. 

  • Original/renewal vessel registration: $10.50, PLUS the following:
    • Derelict vessel and invasive species removal fee: $5.
    • Annual derelict vessel removal surcharge: $1. 
    • Registration filing fee: $3. 
    • License plate technology fee: $0.25.
    • License service fee: $0.50.
    • Registration renewal service fee: $5. 
  • Boat title: $5, PLUS the following:
    • Title filing fee: $4.
    • Title transfer service fee: $12.
  • In-person application agent fee: $5.
  • Duplicate:
    • Watercraft title: $1.25.
    • Registration card: $1.25.
    • Decals: $1.25.
  • Sales/use tax: Varies according to your WA county of residence—select the most recent sales and use tax chart for specifics.

All fees are payable by check OR money order ONLY, made out to "Department of Licensing."

WA Vessel Renewals & Replacements

All Washington boat registrations expire annually on June 30. The Department of Licensing will send you a renewal reminder before the expiration date. 

You can renew your vessel registration by:

Duplicate Boat Registration, Decals, or Title

To replace your vessel registration card, hull decal, OR title you will need to provide:

Then, you can submit your request for replacements in person OR by mail to any DOL agency

Washington Boater Requirements

In Washington, you must be at least

  • 12 years old to operate motorboats with 15 hp or more.
  • 14 years old to use personal watercraft.

Additionally, the WA State Parks and Recreation Commission requires anyone born after January 1, 1955 who wants to operate a boat with a motor of 15 hp or more to have a boater education card. 

To earn your boater education card, you'll need to complete any of the following:

Once you've successfully passed a course OR proficiency test, mail a completed Boater Education Card Application (Form P&R A-430) AND the $10 boater education card fee to:

  • Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission
  • Boating Program
  • P.O. Box 34333
  • Seattle, WA 98124

Allow at least 3 weeks for your boater education card to arrive by mail. 

Forms

Affidavit of Loss/Release of Interest - TD-420-040

Notify the WA Department of Licensing that title, registration, tabs, decals, OR license plates have been lost, stolen, OR destroyed. Releases you from that vehicle's interest.

Boater Education Card Application - P&R A-430

Apply to get your WA boater education card. Must submit with proof of boating course completion OR your proficiency exam certificate.

Vessel Title Application - TD-420-289

Application to title your vessel (i.e. boat) with the Washington Department of Licensing. Must be notarized if you don't sign the application before a DOL agent.

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