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Boat Registration and Licenses in North Dakota

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Boat Registration and Licenses in North Dakota

Any boater who wants to register a vessel in North Dakota will need to apply directly with the ND Game and Fish Department.

On this page, you'll find a information about original and renewal boat registrations as well as the qualifications needed to operate watercraft on North Dakota's waters.

Boats You Must Register in ND

In North Dakota, ALL vessels propelled by a motor are required to be registered, with the following exceptions:

  • Watercraft registered in another state, not used on ND waters for more than 90 days.
  • Boats from another country, temporarily operating in North Dakota.
  • Vessels owned by an entity of the U.S. government.
  • Ship lifeboats.
  • Non-motorized vessels (e.g., canoes, kayaks, rowboats).

If you're not sure whether your vessel qualifies for registration, call the Game and Fish Department at (701) 328-6300 for clarification.

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Registering a Vessel in North Dakota

To register your vessel with the ND Game and Fish Department, you'll need the following items:

  • A completed Watercraft Registration Form (Form SFN 6102).
  • A proof of ownership document:
    • Transferring an out-of-state registration: Your vessel's out-of-state registration card.
    • Vessels bought from a ND dealer: A copy of the bill of sale, which should include the sales tax paid.
    • Boats purchased from private sellers: Proof of a transfer of ownership, like a copy of the previous owner's boat registration card AND a signed letter from the previous owner stating the boat's ownership has been transferred in your name.
    • Watercraft bought from an out-of-state dealer: Proof of sales tax paid OR a completed One Time Remittance Form (Form 21945) if you did not pay sales tax to the dealership's state.
  • A check or money order for all the applicable boat registration fees.

Then, send the required items above to:

  • ND Game and Fish Department
  • Attn: Watercraft Registrations
  • 100 N. Bismarck Expressway
  • Bismarck, ND 58501

While you're waiting for your official boat registration to arrive in the mail, you can apply for a temporary watercraft permit, which is free and valid for 10 days.

ND Boat Registration Fees

The fees to register watercraft with the ND Game and Fish Department are as follows:

  • Vessel registration—Varies depending on the length of your boat:
    • Less than 16 feet: $18.
      • Includes all lengths of motorized canoes.
    • 16 feet to less than 20 feet: $36.
    • 20 feet and longer: $45.
      • Registrations are valid from January 1, 2017 to December 31, 2019 fees are prorated according to the date of registration.
  • North Dakota sales tax: 5% of the sale price.

ND Boat Registration Renewals & Replacements

Before your boat registration expires, the North Dakota Game and Fish Department will mail you a renewal notice. If you did not receive a boat registration renewal notice, call (701) 328-6300.

You may submit your renewal by providing information about your vessel AND the appropriate fees:

Replace Lost Registration

If you've damaged or misplaced your ND boat registration certificate, you'll need to visit your local Game and Fish Department office to apply for a duplicate. You'll need to pay the applicable fees you'd pay for an original registration.

North Dakota Boater Requirements

The North Dakota Game and Fish Department imposes the following age-based rules, when it comes to boating on state waters; if you're:

  • Younger than 12 years old, you CANNOT operate a powerboat of 10 horsepower or more without the supervision of someone who is at least 18 years old.
  • 12 to 15 years old, you may operate a powerboat propelled by more than a 10 horsepower ONLY IF:
    • You're supervised by someone who's at least 18 years old.
      OR
    • You've completed a North Dakota boater education course.

You can fulfill your boater education requirement:

  • With a free home-study course.
  • Through an online education provider approved by the Game and Fish Department.

For information on ordering a home-study guide AND a list of approved education education providers, check out the ND Game and Fish Department's boating safety page.

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