Boat Registration

Register a Boat

Renew Boat Registration



General Information

There are three types of vessel registrations:

  • New Registration: The vessel has never been registered in Georgia with the Department of Natural Resources. The vessel may be new or used.
  • Renewal Registration: Renewal of a Georgia registered boat where the registration number and name of the boat owner have not changed since last registered. Registrations may be renewed any time after October 1 the year before expiration. Registrations allowed to lapse will incur a $10 late fee at renewal.
  • Transfer Registration: Change of ownership for a Georgia registered boat. The existing Georgia registration number (if still available) is transferred to the new owner’s name and the new owner receives a new registration period. The new expiration date is the last day of the new owner's month of birth during the third year of registration. Customers should be sure to update address, email address, and other information.

Renewal requires a Georgia-registered boat where the registration number and name of the boat owner have not changed since last registered. Registrations may be renewed any time after October 1 the year before expiration. Registrations allowed to lapse will incur a $10 late fee at renewal.

Boat owners are mailed a renewal registration notice once when they have 60 days or fewer remaining on their Georgia boat registration.

Boat owners should indicate a change of address or change of email online, when talking to the Service Center operator, or on the mailed renewal form.


Marine Toilet

All boats equipped with a marine toilet must be registered with DNR and must have a permit. Customers will be issued a Marine Toilet Certificate decal which must be affixed to the hull adjacent to the boat registration number. The one-time certification fee is $15.00 ($5 certificate fee plus $10 transaction fee). No renewal of the certificate is required and it is transferable to any subsequent owner of the boat.  You may obtain a Marine Toilet Certificate online, by mailing a Vessel Registration Application with payment by check to the address on the form, or by calling 1-800-366-2661 and making payment using a credit card.

It is illegal to operate a boat with a marine toilet, galley or sleeping quarters (including houseboats) on the following lakes: Lake Burton, Bull Sluice Lake, Goat Rock Lake, Lake Harding, Lake Jackson, North Highlands Lake, Lake Oliver, Lake Rabun, Seed Lake, Tallulah Falls Lake, Tugalo Lake, Lake Oconee, and Yonah Lake.

If operated on the following lakes, customers with marine toilets must have a marine toilet equipped with a holding tank that is built so that it can be emptied only by being pumped out: Lakes Allatoona, Blackshear, Blue Ridge, Clarks Hill, Hartwell, Russell, Seminole, Sinclair, Sidney Lanier, Walter F. George Reservoir, or West Point.

Customers must maintain a record, going back to at least one year, of the name and location of the pump-out facilities used to empty the holding system and the dates of such use.


Clean Vessel Act Grants

Birthday Bonus for Georgia Boat Owners

Starting July 2013, Georgia residents who have a boat registered with the state can fish on their birthday and for two days after as part of their boat registration fee.

It’s a three-day bonus for the state’s some 300,000 resident boat owners. This offer from the Georgia Department of Natural Resources also covers use of some DNR shooting ranges, plus some other sporting privileges. To take advantage of it, boat owners just have to get outdoors.

The birthday bonus is a three-day resident combination license that not only allows Georgians 16 and older who own a vessel and have a valid, current registration to fish in fresh and saltwater for three consecutive days (starting on their birthday), it covers many other recreational opportunities. These include fishing at public fishing areas, accessing state lands where a Georgia Outdoor Recreational Pass is otherwise required, hunting small game and feral hogs on private land, and using shooting ranges where a WMA stamp or GORP is needed.

The license is good for the primary boat owner’s birthday during the three years the boat registration is valid.

Boat owners must carry a Georgia ID, such as a driver’s license, and their plastic vessel registration card to show proof of a valid vessel registration. Activities like trout fishing, big-game hunting and hunting on WMAs require additional paid licenses. Saltwater fishing and migratory bird hunting require additional permits, which are free.


What to Register

Registration Required

Registration is required for:

  • all mechanically-propelled vessels used on "Waters of this state."
  • sailboats over twelve feet in length used on "Waters of this state."

"Waters of this state" means any waters within the territorial limits of this state and the marginal sea adjacent to this state and the high seas when navigated as a part of a journey or ride to or from the shore of this state. This definition shall not include privately-owned ponds or lakes not open to the public. O.C.G.A. §52-7-3(26)

“Vessel” means every description of watercraft, other than a seaplane on the water or a sailboard, used or capable of being used as a means of transportation on water and specifically includes, but is not limited to, inflatable rafts and homemade vessels; provided, however, Code Section 52-7-18, relating to rules of the road for boat traffic, shall be applicable to sailboards. O.C.G.A. §52-7-3(25)

Vessel registrations extend for a period of three calendar years and expire the last day of the vessel owner's month of birth in the last year of registration.

Registration Not Required

Registration is NOT required for the following vessels:

  • Sailboats less than 12 ft. in length with no mechanical propulsion.
  • Canoes, kayaks, rowboats and rubber rafts that have no mechanical propulsion (i.e., are paddled, poled, oared or windblown) and
  • Boats operated exclusively on private ponds or lakes.

Fees

Registration fees are based upon the length of the boat. Current fees:

Boats <16 feet in length $35
Boats 16 feet to <26 feet in length $70
Boats 26 feet to <40 feet in length $140
Boats 40 foot and over in length $210
Duplicate Registration $11
Marine Toilet Certificate with boat registration $5
Standalone Marine Toilet Certificate $15
Late fee for renewal of a lapsed registration (same owner/no transfer) $10

Transaction fees apply to all applications.


Supporting Documents for Boat Registration

All documents should have adequate information to identify the boat, such as:

  • registration number
  • hull identification number
  • length
  • make
  • year
  • construction material.

Documents can be submitted 1 of 4 ways:

  1. Online in your customer account by uploading a scanned image or a photo of the document at www.GoOutdoorsGeorgia.com (Fastest)
  2. Emailing scanned image or photo of the document to: documents@GaBoat.com (Faster)
  3. Faxing documents to: 678-515-9470 (Fast)
  4. Mailing documents to: GA Dept. of Natural Resources PO Box 934943 Atlanta, GA 31193-4943 (Normal Processing)

Required Documents

Document 1 (required): Proof of Ownership

Most often, this is a bill of sale showing sufficient information to identify the vessel, plus the seller’s and owner’s name. See WRD example Bill of Sale. Other proofs of ownership, listed below, may be used. Bills of sale or invoices should show buyer and seller, and be signed by both. If proof of ownership cannot be obtained, a completed and signed Affidavit of Vessel Ownership form may be submitted by the vessel owner.

Examples of Proof of Ownership Documents:

  • Bill of Sale
  • Dealer's Invoice
  • Transferred Title to New Owner’s Name
  • Lottery Prize/Raffle or Gift/Donation: Legal documents, Statement of Gift, or Winner Notification.
  • Divorce with Decree or Spouse Transfer:  Bill of Sale from Seller (spouse owner of boat), or Court Order showing transfer
  • From Deceased Owner or Inherited from Owner: Legal documents showing transfer. See FAQ for list of documents.
  • Lien Holder Repossessions, Bankruptcy, Default on Payment: Court Order or other document giving seller possession and/or authority to sell.
  • Insurance Claim: Bill of Sale from Seller and Theft/Loss Report.
  • Pawn Shop Claim: Bill of Sale from Seller and Pawn Shop Affidavit or Ticket.

Document 2 (required): A Signed Georgia Vessel Registration Application

If a vessel is registered online, the online process allows for electronic agreement without requiring a signed application.

Document 3 (may be required): New Vessels, Out-of-State Vessels, and Homemade Vessels require additional documents:

  • New Vessels
    • For new, never before registered vessels, a legible copy of the of the Manufacturer's Statement of Origin is required.
  • Out-of-State Registrations
    • A legible copy of the title if coming from a Title State OR a copy of out-of-state Registration Card if the vessel is from a non-titling state is required.
  • Homemade Vessels (Never Before Registered)
    • Require a HIN number. If no HIN Number, then a DNR HIN inspection is required before the HIN will be issued.

Bill of Sale for Boat

A Bill of Sale (BOS) for a boat must have adequate information to positively link the BOS to the boat, similar to the example WRD BOS.

Owners of Georgia registered boats must notify the Department, in writing, of sale or transfer, theft or recovery, or destruction or abandonment of a boat within 15 days.

The following should be on the BOS:

  • GA or Other State Registration Number
  • Make
  • Year Built or Model Year
  • HIN #
  • Length
  • Hull Material
  • Color (primary and trim)
  • Seller’s and Buyer’s Signature

However, WRD recognizes that not all BOS will be this complete. It is a judgment call whether WRD believes the BOS received is adequate to link the vessel to the BOS in a reasonably sufficient manner. Whether a BOS is adequate may also depend on other documents submitted such as an out of state title, a manufacturer’s statement of origin, or other information that supports the submitted BOS by positively identifying and linking data or other information to the boat in question.

A BOS does not have to be witnessed OR notarized, although this is acceptable.

If it is determined that a BOS is not available at all or is not adequate, the customer should obtain an adequate BOS. If a BOS cannot be obtained, an Affidavit of Vessel Ownership may be completed.


Selling/Buying a Used Boat: What Documents Do I Give the Buyer/Receive from the Seller?

The documents that will later be used to transfer or register a boat in Georgia from a private sale may vary, depending if the boat is already registered in Georgia, and if the seller is the owner of record on the Georgia registration. There are many possible scenarios, but these below are the most common.

A Bill of Sale (BOS) for a boat must have adequate information to positively link the BOS to the boat.

Boat is Registered in Georgia

Seller should give the buyer a signed and detailed bill of sale and the Georgia boat registration card. The bill of sale must contain sufficient information to identify the boat, such as hull identification number, year, make, model, Georgia boat registration number, etc. Buyer should obtain the detailed bill of sale and the seller’s registration card. If the seller is not the owner of record on the Georgia registration, the seller should also give the buyer copies of bills of sale that form a chain back to the owner of record to show the boat was legally transferred by the owner of record to each subsequent owner if these bills of sale are available. Buyer should obtain the detailed bill of sale from the seller and copies of bills of sale going back to the owner of record (if available), and the original registration card (if available). The previous owner’s registration card should be retained by the buyer until their registration card is received – after their registration card is received we suggest the previous owner’s registration card be destroyed.

Boat is Registered in Another State

Seller should give the buyer a signed, detailed and witnessed bill of sale, AND the original title if the boat is coming from a state that titles boats or the current registration card if the boat is coming from a state that does not title boats. The bill of sale must contain sufficient information to identify the boat, such as hull identification number, year, make, model, boat registration number, etc. Buyer should obtain the detailed bill of sale from the seller and the original title or original state issued registration card. If the boat is coming from a non-title state and the seller is not the owner of record on the registration, the seller should also give the buyer copies of bills of sale that form a chain back to the owner of record to show the boat was legally transferred by the owner of record to each subsequent owner, if available. Buyer should obtain the detailed bill of sale from the seller and copies of bills of sale going back to the owner of record and the original state issued registration card if the boat is registered in a non-title state, or the title if registered in a title state. A list of title and non-title states can be found below.

Title States and Territories (often there are length or model year exceptions):

  • California
  • District of Columbia 
  • Florida
  • Guam
  • Idaho
  • Illinois
  • Indiana
  • Iowa
  • Kentucky
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • Michigan
  • Minnesota
  • Missouri
  • Montana 
  • N. Mariana Islands
  • Nebraska
  • Nevada
  • New Jersey
  • New Mexico
  • New York
  • North Carolina
  • Ohio
  • Oklahoma
  • Oregon
  • Pennsylvania
  • Rhode Island
  • South Carolina
  • South Dakota
  • Texas
  • Utah
  • Vermont
  • Virginia
  • Washington
  • West Virginia
  • Wisconsin
  • Wyoming

Optional Title State:

  • Louisiana
  • Mississippi

Non-Title States and Territories (Registration Only):

  • Alabama
  • Alaska
  • American Samoa 
  • Arizona
  • Arkansas
  • Colorado
  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • Georgia
  • Hawaii
  • Kansas
  • Maine
  • New Hampshire
  • North Dakota
  • Puerto Rico 
  • Tennessee
  • U.S. Virgin Islands

Hull Identification Number (HIN)

What is a Hull Identification Number (HIN)?

The Hull Identification Number (HIN) is a 12 or 14 character serial number that uniquely identifies a boat. The HIN is analogous to a VIN on a car. All boats manufactured or imported on or after November 1, 1972, must bear a HIN, and this HIN must be identified during the boat registration process. Vessels manufactured or imported before 1972 are EXEMPT because they often do not have a HIN.

The HIN is found on a metal or plastic plate, typically on the transom of the boat, usually on the right starboard (right) side of the transom within two inches of the top of transom, gunwale, or hull/deck joint, whichever is lowest. On vessels without transoms, or impractical to use transoms, the HIN is usually affixed to the starboard (right) outboard side of hull, aft, within one foot of the stern and within two inches of the top of the hull side, gunwale or hull/deck joint, whichever is lowest. On catamarans and pontoon boats with replaceable hulls, the HIN is usually affixed to the aft crossbeam, within one foot of the starboard (right) hull attachment.

How Do I Get a Hull Identification Number (HIN)?

  • Boat owners should use every effort to determine if a boat has an existing HIN or resolve problems with a HIN for use in the registration process.
  • A HIN is required for boats manufactured after November 1, 1972. If the HIN is unavailable and unknown, the boat owner must first contact the boat manufacturer to obtain a replacement HIN (if they are still in business). A list of boat manufacturers is available by clicking HERE.
  • If the HIN is known but the plate is missing or the HIN not inscribed on the boat, the boat owner is responsible for permanently affixing the HIN to the boat.
  • If the HIN is an improper format, the applicant will be asked to electronically upload or send a picture or pencil tracing of the HIN to DNR for verification and further instruction.
  • If the manufacturer is out of business or will not assist the boat owner, a DNR HIN Inspection is necessary. DNR will assign a HIN number during the inspection process and the boat owner is responsible for permanently affixing the HIN to the boat. Information on arranging an inspection can be found Here. (http://gadnrle.org/vessel-inspections)

How Do I Contact My Boat Manufacturer to Get a Hull Identification Number (HIN)?

A HIN is required for boats manufactured after November 1, 1972. If the HIN is unavailable and unknown, the boat owner must first contact the boat manufacturer to obtain a replacement HIN. The U.S. Coast Guard maintains a list of boat manufacturers and contact information at http://uscgboating.org/content/manufacturers-identification.php.

If the manufacturer is out of business or will not assist the boat owner, a DNR HIN Inspection is necessary. DNR will assign a HIN number during the inspection process and the boat owner is responsible for permanently affixing the HIN to the boat.

Hull Identification Number Inspection 

A Hull Identification Number (HIN) Inspection is necessary when boat owners do not have a Hull Identification Number from the Manufacturer on any vessel built after 1972. HIN Inspections are also required for any Homemade vessel. HIN Inspections are handled through the Law Enforcement Division.

How Do I Permanently Affix My Hull Identification Number (HIN) to My Boat?

A HIN is required for recreational boats manufactured after November 1, 1972. If the HIN is assigned by DNR, or if the HIN is known but the plate is missing or the HIN not inscribed on the boat, the boat owner is responsible for permanently affixing the HIN to the boat.

Each hull identification number must be carved, burned, stamped, embossed, molded, bonded, or otherwise permanently affixed to the boat so that alteration, removal, or replacement would be obvious. If the number is on a separate plate, the plate must be fastened in such a manner that its removal would normally cause some scarring of or damage to the surrounding hull area. A hull identification number must not be attached to parts of the boat that are removable. The characters of each hull identification number must be no less than one-fourth of an inch high.

Two identical hull identification numbers are required to be displayed on each boat hull.

1. Primary Location. If the hull identification number would not be visible, because of rails, fittings, or other accessories, the number must be affixed as near as possible to the location specified below.

a. On boats with transoms, to the starboard outboard side of the transom within two inches of the top of the transom, gunwale, or hull/deck joint, whichever is lowest. 
b. On boats without transoms or on boats on which it would be impractical to use the transom, to the starboard outboard side of the hull, aft, within one foot of the stern and within two inches of the top of the hull side, gunwale or hull/deck joint, whichever is lowest. 
c. On catamarans and pontoon boats which have readily replaceable hulls, to the aft crossbeam within one foot of the starboard hull attachment.

2. Duplicate Location. The hull identification number must be affixed in an unexposed location on the interior of the boat or beneath a fitting or item of hardware.

O.C.G.A. § 52-7-7.1. Hull identification numbers required; penalty for violations

(a) No person shall operate on the waters of this state a vessel manufactured after November 1, 1972, unless the vessel displays an assigned hull identification number as required by the United States Coast Guard or by the issuing authority, except any of those vessels exempted by Code Section 52-7-7.6. The hull identification number shall be carved, burned, stamped, embossed, or otherwise permanently affixed to the outboard side of the transom or the starboard side within two feet of the transom above the waterline in accordance with federal law or as directed by the issuing authority.


Registering or Purchasing an Inherited Boat

When a person dies, title to their property, including any vessels they owned, becomes vested in another person(s). A formal legal process guides this action. Legal documents may be available to show who gained ownership of a vessel from the estate, or who has legal authority, such as an Executor or Administrator of an estate, to dispose of a vessel.

By statute, vessels may only be registered by the legal owner (52-7-5). If a living legal owner sells a vessel, a bill of sale from the owner and the owner’s registration card are sufficient to transfer the vessel registration to the new owner. Obviously, when the owner of a vessel is deceased, they are unable to sign a bill of sale. The person gaining the vessel from an estate might desire to transfer the vessel registration into their name, or may desire to sell the vessel to another person and the registration would be transferred from the deceased to the buyer’s name.

To transfer registration, the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) must have a legal document reflecting the change in ownership of the vessel. We have past instances where we learn ownership of a vessel is in dispute. For example, someone may have sold a deceased's vessel to a third party and others in the family or spouse claim the seller had no ownership claim to legally sell the vessel. Therefore, the person that sold the boat was not the owner and the buyer is unable to legally transfer registration.

Letters of Testamentary/Administration, Probated Last Will and Testament, and Year’s Support are examples of some legal documents that could show a transfer of vessel ownership from a deceased’s estate to a new owner. An Affidavit of Inheritance form from DNR may be used to transfer registration to the inheritor when the deceased left no will or left a will that is not to be probated because it contains only limited assets. A certified copy of the deceased’s death certificate must accompany this completed and signed form. If the will is not to be probated because it contains only limited assets, a copy of the non-probated will must accompany this form. If there is only one heir, a certified copy of No Administration Necessary from Probate Court may be submitted in lieu of the Affidavit of Inheritance. An Affidavit of Vessel Ownership may also be used to transfer ownership if the documents described above cannot be obtained.


Temporary Boat Registration

Temporary boat registration is available for boats that have a valid hull identification number (HIN), and for boats that are exempt from the HIN requirement including boats manufactured before November 1, 1972.

If done by telephone, the supplied temporary authorization number (TAN) can be used for a period of 60 days in Georgia until the decal and registration number are received by the boat owner (whichever is earlier). The number must be carried on the boat when in use.

If done by mail, a customer can keep a copy of the mailed application or renewal form and a copy of the check as proof of application. These two pieces of information can be carried on the boat and used for 60 days in Georgia until the new registration is received, if the boat has a proper HIN, or was manufactured in 1972 or before. The date of the application and check or the date the application is received, whichever is earliest, is the starting date of the 60-day period.

If done online, a receipt and temporary authorization number (TAN) are issued that are good for 60 days for use in Georgia until the new registration is received.

Use of the vessel can continue in other states for renewal registrations but only if the original registration has not expired.