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Boat Registration and Licenses in Arkansas

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All boat registrations and titles in Arkansas are processed through the Department of Finance and Administration. If you're looking to register your boat in Arkansas, you'll be working directly with the AR state revenue offices.

The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission enforces all boat regulations to ensure boater safety and reduce the number of accidents on the open water.

Continue reading this page to learn about Arkansas vessel registrations and the qualifications needed to operate a boat in The Natural State.

Arkansas Boats Requiring Registration

In Arkansas, you're required to register ALL vessels propelled by motors OR sails before operating on public waters.

The following types of boats are exempt from registration:

  • Boats registered in another state that are going to be used on Arkansas waterways for fewer than 90 days.
  • Vessels documented by the U.S. Coast Guard.
  • Any vessel not propelled by motor or sail.

If you aren't sure whether your boat qualifies, call the Department of Finance and Administration's boat registration number: (501) 682-4692.

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AR Boat Registration Procedures

You must apply for your boat registration within 30 days of your purchase.

BEFORE submitting a registration application to the DFA, you'll need verification of your hull identification number (HIN). To verify your HIN, simply take a:

  • Pencil rubbing of the HIN directly off of your vessel.
    OR
  • Clear photograph of the HIN.

Then, you can visit any Arkansas state revenue office with:

  • A bill of sale OR current registration.
  • Proof that:
    • You have liability insurance if your vessel has an engine of 50 horsepower.
      • Coverage must meet the state's $50,000 requirement and be with an insurance provider authorized to operate in Arkansas.
    • Your boat has been assessed by an Arkansas county assessor.
    • You've paid your personal property taxes, such as a:
      • Receipt from your county tax collector's office.
      • Certification of payment stamped on your assessment papers.
    • Payment for all applicable registration fees.
The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission provides information on how to exhibit the registration number and validation decals. Be sure to keep your certificate of number card on board; it must be readily available for inspection whenever the boat is in operation.

Arkansas Boat Registration Fees

The Department of Finance and Administration's fees for registering your vessel are as follows:
  • Registration/renewal fees (depend on the length of the boat):
    • Less than 16 ft: $ 7.50.
    • 16 ft to 26 ft: $15.
    • 26 ft to 40 ft: $ 51.
    • 40 ft and longer: $105.
  • Registration transfer fee: $2.
  • Replacement registration fee: $1.

Boat Registration Renewals & Replacements

The registration for your AR vessel is valid for 3 years. When it's time to renew, submit the items listed in the registration procedures section above, substituting your bill of sale with the renewal notice mailed to you by the Arkansas DFA:

  • In person at your local state revenue office.
    OR
  • By mail (no later than 15 days before it expires) to:
    Department of Finance and Administration
    Office of Motor Vehicle
    P.O. Box 3153
    Little Rock, AR 72203

Allow 15 days to process your request. If mailing your renewal, make the check for renewal fees payable to the Department of Finance and Administration.

Replace a Lost Boat Registration

Replace a damaged or lost registration by following the original application instructions outlined in vessel registration procedures above. Instead of paying the original registration fee, you'll only have to pay the replacement fee of $1.

Boater Insurance in Arkansas

If you want to operate your boat legally, you're going to need to purchase a boat insurance policy in Arkansas. You must carry a minimum of liability insurance ( $50,000) as required by the Department of Finance and Administration. You can find low insurance rates on our guide dedicated to Boat Insurance.

Boater Safety in Arkansas

If you were born on or after January 1, 1986, you will need to take a boating education course approved by the Game and Fish Commission before operating a vessel. To learn more about boating education requirements and providers, visit the AR Game and Fish Commission's boating education page. You will need to carry the certificate of course completion with you whenever operating a vessel.

Boat operators must also be aware of the following age restrictions:
  • You must be 12 years old or older OR under the supervision of someone at least 18 years old, if operating a boat with 10 horsepower or more.
  • If you plan on operating a personal watercraft and are age:
    • 16 years old or older: Able to operate unsupervised.
    • 12 to 15 years old: Must be supervised by an adult at least 18 years old.
    • Under 12 years old: Must be supervised by an adult at least 21 years old.

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