Boat Registration and Licenses in Kentucky
As of January 1, 2017, all vessels are required to have a hull identification number (HIN) validated by the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet (KTC). If your boat doesn't have a valid HIN, you'll need to apply for one through the KTC.
If you want to operate a boat on Kentucky waters, you may need to title and register it with the KY Transportation Cabinet. On this page, we'll teach you about titling and registering your vessel as well as the qualifications needed to operate a boat on Kentucky waters.
Vessels Requiring KY Title & Registration
The KTC requires all mechanically-powered vessels used primarily on the state's waterways to be titled and registered, with the following exceptions:
- Vessels currently registered in another state, used in Kentucky for less than 60 consecutive days.
- A ship's lifeboat used strictly for that purpose.
- Boats registered in another country temporarily using KY's waters.
- Vessels owned by an entity of the U.S. government.
If you're not sure whether your boat requires a title and registration, contact the KTC at (502) 564-1257 for clarification.
Boat Title & Registration in Kentucky
After purchasing a boat, you have 15 days to title and register it with the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet by providing the following items at your local county clerk's office:
- A completed Motor Boat Transaction Record/Application for Registration and/or Title (Form TC 96-184).
- A proof of ownership document, such as:
- The Manufacturer's Certificate of Origin (new boats).
- The vessel's title, properly assigned to the new owner (used boats).
- If you're transferring ownership of a boat previously owned in a non-titling state, submit the boat's most recent registration certificate instead.
- The bill of sale.
- A photo or pencil tracing to verify your HIN.
- A form of photo identification (e.g. driver's license or identification card).
- Payment for the applicable title and registration fees.
All boat registrations in Kentucky expire annually on April 30. Be sure to keep your title and registration certificates on board whenever operating your vessel.
KY Vessel Title & Registration Fees
The fees you could expect to pay for titling and registering your boat with the KTC are as follows:
- Registration/renewal fees (depend on the length of your boat):
- Class A (less than 16 ft in length): $21.
- Class 1 (16 ft to 25 ft): $40.
- Class 2 (26 ft to 39 ft): $50.
- Class 3 (longer than 40 ft): $65.
- Inboard boat registration (all sizes): $43.
- Registration for boats with an electric (or trolling) motor only: $10.
- Original titling fee: Varies from county to county.
- Title: $8.
- Registration: Varies, depending on the county.
- Property taxes: Different in each KY county.
For details on the county-specific fees and property taxes you may owe, contact the clerk's office in the county where you title and registered your vessel.
Renew & Replace KY Boat Title & Registration
All Kentucky boat registrations expire on April 30 of each year—the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet will mail you a renewal notice (which includes all necessary renewal forms) before your registration's expiration date.
You can renew your registration by submitting your completed renewal notice AND the required fees to the KTC:
- In person at your local county clerk's office.
- By mail to the address listed on your renewal notice.
- When renewing by mail, you'll need to include an additional $2 postage and handling fee.
NOTE: If your registration lapses, you must renew your registration in person.
Replace a Lost Title or Registration
If your title or registration certificate is lost or damaged, you can apply for a duplicate by presenting the following at your local county clerk's office:
- A completed:
- Affidavit for Replacement or Non-Exchange (Form TC 96-167) for a duplicate registration certificate.
- Motor Boat Transaction Record/Application for Registration and/or Title (Form TC 96-184) for a duplicate certificate of title.
- A form of photo identification.
- The applicable replacement fees.
Kentucky Boater QualificationsIn Kentucky, you must be at least 12 years old to operate a boat with 10 horsepower or more. If you are 12 to 17 years old, you must also have a boater education certificate.
Conveniently, you can fulfill your boater education requirement AND receive the necessary certificate through an approved online education provider.
Be sure to carry the boater education card with you whenever you're operating a vessel.
Call the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources (800) 858-1549 for more information on boater education courses and requirements.
- TC 96-167
- Affidavit for Replacement or Non Exchange
- Request replacement Kentucky license plates, decals, OR registration certificates from the Division of Motor Vehicle Licensing. Must be notarized.
- TC 96-184
- Motor Boat Transaction Record/Application for Registration and/or Title
- The MVL's application for an original, duplicate, updated, or transferred Kentucky motorboat title.