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Boat Registration and Licenses in Wisconsin

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Wisconsin Boat Registration & Licenses

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is responsible for processing all boat title and registration applications.

Continue reading to learn about registering and titling your vessel as well as the qualifications needed to operate watercraft on WI state waters.

WI Boats Requiring Title & Registration

ALL motorized boats AND ALL sailboats more than 12 feet in length must register with Wisconsin's Department of Natural Resources.

Boats that are exempt from registration in Wisconsin include:

  • Boats from another country temporarily in Wisconsin.
  • Ships' lifeboats.
  • Non-motorized sailboats 12 feet or less in length.
  • Manually propelled watercraft, like canoes, kayaks, and rowboats.
  • Boats registered with a federally recognized American Indian tribe or band.
  • Non-recreational vessels owned by an entity of the U.S. government or military.
  • Boats in WI for no more than 10 days, only for racing purposes.
  • Any boat registered in another state and using Wisconsin waters for no more than 60 consecutive days.

Additionally, you must title any motorized vessel with a 1988 or newer registration, measuring 16 feet or longer.

If you aren't sure about whether your boat requires a Wisconsin registration and/or title, give the Department of Natural Resources a call at (888) 936-7463 for assistance.

Apply for WI Vessel Title & Registration

After purchasing a vessel, you have 10 days to submit a title/registration application to the DNR.

If you're applying for a Wisconsin registration ONLY (i.e. your vessel is exempt from the DNR's titling requirements) you can submit an application online through the Department of Natural Resources Go Wild portal. You will need to create an account AND provide the necessary payment for WI boat registration fees.

If your watercraft requires title AND registration OR you'd prefer not to use Go Wild for registration, you can submit a title/registration application in person OR by mail. To do so, begin by gathering:

Then, you can submit your application by any of the following methods:

  • In person at any DNR service center.
  • By mail to:
    • DNR Processing Center
    • P.O. Box 78701
    • Milwaukee, WI 53278

Once the DNR receives your application, they'll give you a temporary operating receipt, which you can use to operate your boat while waiting for your official title and/or registration to arrive by mail.

Wisconsin vessel registrations are valid for 3 years, starting on January 1st and expiring on March 31st of the final registration year.

Wisconsin Boat Title & Registration Fees

The fees to title and register your boat with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources are as follows:

  • WI boat title: $5.
    • Per lien added: $5.
  • Initial and renewal vessel registration for:
    • Motorized boats measuring:
      • Less than 16 ft: $22.
      • 16 ft to less than 26 ft: $32.
      • 26 ft to less than 40 ft: $60.
      • 40 ft or more: $100.
    • Non-motorized sailboats over 12 ft in length: $17.
  • Registration transfer fee: $3.75.
  • Replacement:
    • Registration card OR decals: $2.50.
    • Boat title: $5.
  • Sales tax:
    • State: 5% of the purchase price.
    • Local: Depends on your county of residence. See the WI county sales tax chart for specifics.

WI Vessel Renewals & Replacements

Wisconsin boat registrations are good for 3 years and begin on January 1st. Your vessel registration will expire on March 31st of the last registration year. The WI Department of Natural Resources will send you a renewal notice prior to your registration's expiration date.

You can renew your Wisconsin boat registration in any of the following ways:

If you didn't receive a renewal notice, you can submit a completed Wisconsin Boat Registration and Titling Application (Form 9400-193) in its place.

Replacement Boat Title & Registration

If your boat title, registration card, OR decals are lost or damaged, you have a few options for requesting replacements.

The easiest way is through the Department of Natural Resource's Go Wild online portal—simply create an account (providing information about yourself and your vessel) AND provide the necessary fees for duplicate title, registration, and/or decals.

Your other option is to submit:

You can provide the required items above:

Boater Safety Courses in Wisconsin

A boating safety course certificate is required for anyone born on or after January 1, 1989 who wants to operate motorboats OR personal watercraft (PWC) unsupervised.

Additionally, the WI Department of Natural Resources imposes the following age restrictions when it comes to operating boating on state waters. Visit the DNR's guidelines to boating eligibility for details.

Even if you're not required to take a boating safety course, you should still consider enrolling. You'll become a safer boater AND could earn discounts on boat insurance!

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