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Boat Registration and Licenses in Washington DC

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Boat titles and registrations are handled by the Washington, D.C. Harbor Patrol of the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD). 

Continue reading to learn everything you need to know about WA, D.C. vessel titles and registrations AND the qualifications required to operate watercraft in the country's capital. 

Boats to Title & Register in D.C.

ALL vessels currently AND primarily using Washington, D.C.'s waters must be titled AND registered with the Harbor Patrol. This includes:

  • Motorboats.
  • Sailboats.
  • Kayaks and canoes.
  • Paddle boats.
  • Personal watercraft (jet skis). 

Exceptions to the titling and registration requirement include:

  • Watercraft documented with the U.S. Coast Guard.
  • Vessels registered in another state or country using D.C.'s waters for no more than 50 consecutive days.
  • Boats used exclusively for racing.
  • Lifeboats.

If you need clarification as to whether you'll need to title and register your boat, call the Harbor Patrol at (202) 727-4582.

NOTE: If a boat was registered in your name on or before March 14, 1984 AND it has never changed ownership NOR had its registration renewed since then, you do not need to title it

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Title & Register Your Boat in WA, D.C.

To register and title your boat in D.C., you'll need to submit the following items to the Washington, D.C. Harbor Patrol:

  • A completed Application for Boat Certificate of Title/Registration Number (Form PD 330).
  • A bill of sale complete with the boat's:
    • Manufacturer, model, and model year.
    • Hull identification number (HIN).
    • Length.
    • Purchase date and price.
    • Owner's name.
  • A proof of ownership document for:
    • New boats: Manufacturer's Certificate/Statement of Origin, assigned to you by the dealer.
    • Used boats: Properly assigned boat title AND/OR vessel registration.
      • If you provide a properly assigned title, you do not need to provide a bill of sale.
  • Proof that all previous liens have been released, if applicable.
  • Payment for the necessary vessel title and registration fees.

Take the above items to the Harbor Patrol's main office, located at:

  • 550 Water St. SW
  • Washington, D.C. 20024

Washington, D.C. vessel registrations are renewed annually, valid from January 1 to December 31.

Washington, D.C. Title & Registration Fees

To title and register your boat in Washington, D.C., you'll need to pay the following fees:

  • Initial and renewal registration for boats:
    • With motors (depends on the length of your vessel):
      • Under 16 feet: $15.
      • 16 ft to 26 ft: $25.
      • More than 26 ft to 40 ft: $35.
      • Over 40 feet: $60.
    • Without motors: $10.
  • Boat title: $2.
  • Duplicate:
    • Vessel decals: $5.
    • Registration card: $5.
    • Boat title: $2.
  • Title tax: 6% of the watercraft's purchase price.

All fees are payable ONLY by check OR money order made out to "D.C. Treasurer."

WA, D.C. Boat Renewals & Replacements

Boat registrations expire every year on December 31. The Harbor Patrol will send you a renewal notice before the end of the registration period.

You can renew your WA, D.C. vessel registration by any of the following methods:

Replace a Lost Vessel Title or Registration

If you need to apply for a duplicate boat registration card, title, OR decals, you must visit the Harbor Patrol office with:

Take the above items to the Harbor Patrol office at:

  • 550 Water St. SW
  • Washington, D.C. 20024

Washington, D.C. Boater Requirements

ANYONE operating a boat in Washington, D.C. is required to have a boating safety certificate.

Additionally, if you're younger than 18 years old AND want to operate a boat measuring 16 ft. or longer, you must have a boating safety certificate OR be supervised by an adult (at least 18 years old) who has a boating safety certificate.

To earn your boating safety certificate, you'll need to attend a classroom course put on by the Harbor Patrol—check out the schedule of classes.

You may also be able to take an online boating course, though you'll need to call the Harbor Patrol at (202) 727-4582 to make sure the one you're considering is approved.

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