Boat Registration and Licenses in Washington

All vessel registrations and titles in Washington are processed through the Department of Licensing (DOL). 

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 HP 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.

Carbon Monoxide Sticker

All new or used motorized vessels, except Jet Ski style personal watercraft, are required by law to have a carbon monoxide warning sticker. This sticker must be visible to passengers.  You should receive this sticker when purchase a new vessel, or when you register or renew your registration. If you do not receive this sticker when you register or renew your registration, or one was not included when you purchased a new vessel, you must call (360) 902-3812. 

For more information on carbon monoxide warning sticker you can check out the WA state's Boating and the Dangers of Carbon Monoxide.

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. 
    • Registration renewal service fee: $5. 
  • Boat title:
    • Title application fee: $15.
    • Title filing fee: $4.
    • Title transfer service fee: $12.
  • In-person application agent fee non-title transactions: $5.
  • Duplicate:
    • Watercraft title: $17.25 PLUS $12 service fee (required at some locations).
    • Registration card: Varies by county PLUS a possible $5 service fee (required at some locations).
  • Sales/use tax: Varies according to your WA county of residence—select the most recent sales and use tax chart for specifics.

All locations accept cash and checks. Checks should be payable to "Department of Licensing."  
Some locations accept credit and debit cards. If you use a debit or credit card you be charged a convenience fee of $2 or 2.35% of your total fee.

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

Notification Requirements

You are required to notify the Department of Licensing within 15 days if:

  • You lose your registration card.
  • The owner’s address changes.
  • The vessel is abandoned, stolen, destroyed, lost, or recovered.

You can report any of these changes by calling (360) 902-3770.

Washington Boater Requirements

In Washington the State Parks and Recreation Commission requires vessel operators to have a Boater Education Card if you: 

  • Are 12 years old or older.
  • Were born after January 1, 1955.
  • Will be operating a vessel with a motor 15 hp or more.

Additionally, the WA State Parks and Recreation Commission prohibits anyone under the age of 14 years old from operating a personal watercraft. Some cities or counties have other age restrictions for boat operators so it is important to know the regulations in the area where you be boating.

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 up to 4 weeks for your boater education card to arrive by mail. 

Forms

TD-420-040
Affidavit of Loss/Release of Interest
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.
P&R A-430
Boater Education Card Application
Apply to get your WA boater education card. Must submit with proof of boating course completion OR your proficiency exam certificate.
TD-420-289
Vessel Title Application
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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