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Vessel Registration

Vessel Registration FAQs

Does a boat using just a trolling motor have to be registered?

Yes, any boat with mechanical propulsion must be registered if it is being operated in waters of the State of Georgia. If the boat is used exclusively on private ponds, then it does not need to be registered.

I have a sailboat without a motor. Does it have to be registered?

All sailboats with mechanical propulsion must be registered regardless of length. Sailboats less than 12 feet in length without mechanical prolusion do not require registration. Sailboats 12 feet or longer must be registered whether or not they have mechanical propulsion. Boats operated exclusively on private ponds or lakes do not have to be registered.

How long does a boat registration last?

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.

How long does it take to receive a boat registration?

Customers will receive their decals and registration card within two weeks of completing payment and after all required documents are received.

How do I obtain a duplicate boat registration (registration card or decals)?

A duplicate registration card with duplicate decals can be requested by MAIL, TELEPHONE at 1-800-366-2661, or ONLINE following the procedures for boat registration. Duplicate Registration cards and decals are purchased / printed together. The registration cannot be expired. The cost is $1.00 plus an $8.00 service charge if done online, $10.00 service charge by phone, or $10 service change by mail using the boat registration application. If you choose to do this online, go through the screens as if you are registering your boat, and you will get to a choice to purchase a duplicate registration.

I received a letter asking for additional documents. Can I fax or email these documents?

If you receive a notification stating additional documents are needed to process your boat registration, the documents may be uploaded using your online account, or sent by fax or email. Make sure to send only copies and keep the original for your records.

The email address for documents is:

The fax number for documents is:
678-515-9470 (fax)

The mailing address for documents is:
Georgia Department of Natural Resources
P.O. Box 934943
Atlanta, GA 31193-4943

How do I get a refund for my boat registration?

Refund requests are processed by DNR. Only under limited conditions are fees paid to WRD refundable or reversible. Customers may receive a refund for charges related to electronic system errors or for payment where they do not receive any privilege or other consideration such as for overpayment.


Can I keep my existing boat registration numbers if they expire?

Once a boat registration has expired, the numbers may be reassigned. Generally if the boat registration expired within the last calendar year, it is likely that the numbers have not been reassigned. The longer a boat goes unregistered, the more likely it is that the numbers will be reassigned and no longer available for the previous customer’s use. 

Do I need to notify DNR if I sell or no longer have my boat?

Owners of Georgia registered boats must notify DNR, in writing, of sale or transfer, theft or recovery, or destruction or abandonment of a boat within 15 days. A notification form is located HERE. The signed form may be returned to DNR by:

The email address for documents is:

The fax number for documents is:
678-515-9470 (fax)

The mailing address for documents is:
Georgia Department of Natural Resources
P.O. Box 934943
Atlanta, GA 31193-4943

Do I need to notify DNR if I change address?

Owners of Georgia registered boats must notify the Department of a change in address from that shown on their boat registration card within 15 days. This notification must be sent to the address below. Or owners may log onto their online account or call the Service Center at 1-800-366-2661 to notify the Department of their change of address.

Georgia Department of Natural Resources
P.O. Box 934943
Atlanta, GA 31193-4943 

My boat is registered in another state. Can I use it in Georgia?

If a boat is fully registered and valid in another state, the boat may be used in Georgia. However, after 60 days of continuous use in Georgia, the boat must have Georgia registration.

Why does DNR require the use of the owner’s social security number for boat registration?

Federal Coast Guard regulations (CFR Title 33, Section 187.101) require that SSN or individual taxpayer identification numbers (ITIN) be reported for each owner or owners of a vessel, if the person has one of these numbers. If an owner does not have a SSN or ITIN number, other information can be collected and reported.

Why do I have to pay a transaction fee to register my boat?

In December 2007, DNR first entered into a contract with an outside vendor to design and manage an automated hunting and fishing license and boat registration system. The new license system was required to replace a failing automated licensing system that was not going to be licensed and available to DNR after December 2008. In short, the system was failing and had to be replaced. Absent of a significant funding source to develop and manage a new system “in-house”, DNR explored contractual options for obtaining a “no cost to state” contract like those adopted in many other states. Funding for this type of system would be recovered by the addition of a service charge paid by the buyer at the time of the purchase. The current contract includes: boat registration and renewal online, by telephone, and by mail, and requires mailing registration cards and decals to vessel owners. A Service Center operated by the vendor receives about 200,000 calls per year and registers boat, sells licenses and answers questions about boat registration and recreational hunting and fishing licenses.

My registration expired and now I’m told the registration numbers on my boat aren’t available and must be changed. Why?

When boat registration numbers expire, they become available to be reused. We do this because of the limited quantity of numbers available. While the odds favor that an expired registration number won’t be quickly selected by the computer once it expires, it is available upon expiration and if reassigned is no longer available to the previous registrant. We suggest maintaining boat registrations rather than letting them expire. An expired registration incurs an additional $10 late fee at renewal.

My out-of-state boat title is held by lien holder - what action, if any, should I take?

In Georgia, in order for a lien holder to record your outstanding debt against the vessel, the lien holder may file a UCC-1 form. A checklist and procedures can be found at https://www.gsccca.org/filesandforms/uccforms.asp. This is done at the Georgia county level through the county's Clerk of Superior Court where the boat owner resides and is not available through the License and Boat Registration Unit. Lien holders are often aware of this procedure, and will take the necessary steps to ensure their lien is secure against a Georgia registered boat.

Once the lien holder releases the lien against the out-of-state title, they may provide the title to the boat owner. Georgia will accept the original title or a legible copy for registration purposes.

A boat has been left on my property. How do I take control of the boat (abandoned vessel)?

Georgia’s Abandoned Vessel Code, O.C.G.A 52-7-70 through O.C.G.A. 52-7-77, details the steps required in order to declare a vessel abandoned by the State of Georgia. An Abandoned Vessel Package put together by WRD Law Enforcement Section is a helpful guide that contains required forms and outlines processes that may be used to declare a vessel abandoned under Georgia law.

The two key forms to initiate the process, the Abandoned Vessel Notice and Information Request directed to both Georgia Department of Natural Resources and Georgia Bureau of Investigation can be found in the Abandoned Vessel Package. These must be completed with as much information as is known and submitted to the Agency and addresses noted at the top of each form.

If the vessel was abandoned at a storage facility and you have a copy of a contract with the individual that stored the vessel indicating that the vessel was "Specified collateral" and the individual defaulted on that contract, then all you have to do is complete the Default of Security Interest / Transfer Statement to transfer the vessel into your name. It will not be necessary to go through the "Abandoned Vessel" process whenever self-storage facilities contract with individuals and the property stored is "Specified Collateral" and the customer defaults on that security interest.

Why did you cash my check for boat registration before sending my registration decals?

Our mail-in boat registration procedures were established to meet our fiduciary responsibility to both the State of Georgia and to our customers. The first objective for mail-in payments is to ensure that customer’s fees are processed and recorded in such a manner to prevent mishandling of payments, in part accomplished by keeping the number of individuals handling your payment to the lowest level possible. The P.O. Box that receives your boat registration application and payment are physically located at a bank processing center used by the State of Georgia so that your payment is deposited immediately upon receipt. A scanned image of your check or money order is generated as a reference, and your boat registration application is sent from the bank to our license vendor for processing and fulfillment. If the application is complete and all necessary documents are present, the application is completely processed within 48 hours. Decals are created and mailed twice each week. It typically takes about two weeks from the time we receive your application at the P.O. Box until you receive your decals, or receive a letter stating that the application is not complete or documents are missing.

Does Georgia register or title outboard motors?

The State of Georgia does not and has never titled or registered outboard motors. The National Vessel Numbering & Titling Manual, Third Edition, published by the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators in 2011 gives information on each state’s vessel numbering and titling practices including which states title and/or register outboard motors. 

How do I register my boat trailer?

All boat trailers must be registered with the Georgia Motor Vehicle Division. Registration is done through your local County Tax Commissioners Office (Tag Office). Here is a link that shows Tax Office locations: https://mvd.dor.ga.gov/motor/tagoffices/SelectTagOffice.aspx.

I built a homemade boat. How do I register it?

Homemade boats must be assigned a hull identification number (HIN). To get a HIN, persons should initiate the boat registration process and pay for registration using the normal process (mail or phone) so that a record of the boat is in our system. Trailerable boats must be taken to a WRD inspection location to receive a HIN. HIN Inspections are conducted at locations statewide on a varying schedule. Inspections will not be performed if customers have not paid for a registration in advance of the inspection.

Boat owners should bring receipts for materials used to construct the boat, and any documents and correspondence that relate to the boat, boat construction, or registration process that may be helpful during the HIN Inspection that support registration.

For large boats moored at marinas that cannot be trailered, customers should call the office that handles the county where the boat is located to arrange for a HIN Inspection. A list of WRD offices by county can be found here.

Do I have to keep my boat registered?

There is no requirement that the boat remain registered. However, there is a possibility that the registration number on the boat may be reassigned if the registration is allowed to lapse. Registrations allowed to lapse will incur a $10 late fee at renewal. 

I am absolutely unable to get proof of ownership documents to support my Georgia boat registration. What are my options?


Boat owners should use every effort to obtain the required supporting documents for boat registration. to avoid costs to themselves and the state. If all options have been exhausted, an Affidavit of Vessel Ownership may be provided by the owner of the vessel.

Information for lien holders, lenders and others regarding original titles and original Manufacturers Statement of Origin (MSO) / Uniform Commercial Code Georgia

Georgia is not a title state for vessels, and therefore does not record liens against vessel titles. In order for an in-state or out-of-state lender to record outstanding debt against a vessel and an individual, the lender will file a Georgia UCC-1 form through the Georgia Superior Court Clerk’s Cooperative Authority. Refer to the following site for information and a checklist: http://www.gsccca.org/learn/projects-programs/ucc-system

A direct link to UCC forms is:

This process is done at the Georgia county level through the resident's county Clerk of Superior Court and is not available through the WRD License and Boat Registration Unit. Many lenders are aware of this process.

The original manufacturer's statement of origin (MSO) or vessel title (if coming from another state) is not needed for the UCC process. After filing a Georgia UCC-1 form, the lender may give the original MSO or original title to the vessel owner.

What is the Fishing Birthday Bonus program for boat owners?

As part of their boat registration fee, Georgia residents 16 and older who own a vessel with a current, valid registration can fish and use some DNR sites such as shooting ranges where a WMA stamp or GORP would be required to hunt small game for three consecutive days starting on their birthday. This law change takes effect July 1, 2013.

Boat owners must carry personal ID and their vessel registration card (as proof of a valid vessel registration) when taking advantage of this outdoors birthday bonus. Some activities require additional licenses or permits.