According to Federal Regulation, all undocumented vessels equipped with propulsion machinery must be registered in the state of principal use. A certificate of number will be issued upon registering the vessel. These numbers must be displayed on your vessel. The owner/operator of a vessel must carry a valid certificate of number whenever the vessel is in use. When moved to a new state of principal use, the certificate is valid for 60 days. Some larger recreational vessels must be documented and the certificate of documentation must be on board a documented vessel at all times.

Display of numbers: Numbers must be painted or permanently attached to each side of the forward half of the vessel. The validation stickers must be affixed within six inches of the registration number. With the exception of the vessel fee decal, no other letter or numbers may be displayed nearby.

For personal watercraft, the numbers and stickers must also be affixed on each side of the forward half of the vessel on a non-removable portion of the hull.

On inflatable boats or vessels so configured that a number will not properly adhere or cannot be clearly seen, the number should be painted on or attached to a backing plate along with the registration sticker. The number must be visible from each side of the vessel. No other numbers, letters, or devices may be placed in the vicinity of the state-assigned number.

To separate the numerals from the letters, spaces the width of the letter "C" or hyphens may be used between the prefix and the number, and between the number and the suffix. Letters and numerals must be at least three inches high, of block character, and of a color which will form a good contrast with the color of the hull or backing plate. In determining height and contrast, any border, trim, outlining, or shading around the number shall not be considered.

Notification of Changes to a Numbered Vessel: The owner of a vessel must notify the agency which issued the certificate of number within 15 days if:

If the certificate of number becomes invalid for any reason, it must be surrendered in the manner prescribed to the issuing authority within 15 days. A documented vessel must have the name and hailing port plainly marked on the exterior part of the hull in clearly legible letters not less than four inches in height.

Registration forms may be obtained from any local DMV office or authorized registration agent or by writing:

Department of Motor Vehicles
Registration Processing Units
P.O. Box 942869
Sacramento, CA 94269-0001