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NC Boat Registration: Everything You Need To Know

NC Boat Registration: Everything You Need To Know

Posted by Wet Sounds on 21st Mar 2022

North Carolina is a beautiful coastal state that offers locals and visitors access to a number of bodies of water. As a result, many people living in the state own watercraft to enjoy their favorite recreational activities. Before you take a boat out on the North Carolina waters, make sure your vessel is properly registered with the state. You can learn all about NC boat registration and the requirements for boaters in the state.

What Is North Carolina Boat Registration?

Image via Unsplash by slgoetz

Boats must be properly numbered and registered for use in North Carolina. The state's Wildlife Resources Commission handles the registration of all approved vessels, as well as offering various services to promote safety and support public enjoyment of water sports and recreation. The boat registration system allows for proper record-keeping and identification of motorized water vessels and large sailboats that use the state's public waters. Registration also helps reduce the risk of theft and protects against irresponsible actions taken by boat operators.

When you register your boat, you provide your name, address, and a description of the vessel, which will become part of the record kept by the state's Wildlife Commission. In exchange for this information, the commission issues a registration number that identifies your vessel and shows that you have gone through the proper registration process. You will also receive a decal that indicates when the registration expires and a card that outlines the pertinent information.

North Carolina boat registration is split into three categories: civilian, dealer, and public agency. A vast majority of the boats registered in the state are civilian. A registration number includes three parts:

  • NC: represents the state in which the boat is registered.
  • Four digits.
  • One or two letters.

An example of a North Carolina boat registration number is NC-1234-AA.

How To Register a Boat in NC

When you are ready to register your boat in NC, you can take care of the process online, by phone, or in person through select Wildlife Service Agents. You will need to complete the registration form, which also includes a section to show proof of ownership. Many types of vessels require registration in the state of North Carolina, and each type has its own fee schedule. 

You can either pay for a one-year registration or three-year registration. Government entities can request permanent registration of their vessels. When the registration period expires, you must maintain the registration by completing the renewal process through the Wildlife Resources Commission.

Completing the Boat Registration Form

Section one of the form requires you to select the transaction type, or what type of vessel you are registering. The first two are titled vessels measuring more or less than 26 feet in length. If you are registering a vessel that is less than 14 feet in length, you do not need to provide the title as proof of ownership. The final four selections on the transaction type section are for dealers and government entities, including the Coast Guard.

Section two requires you to show proof of ownership of the vessel. Acceptable forms of proof of ownership include: 

  • Manufacturer's statement of origin.
  • Dealer's bill of sale.
  • Original North Carolina title.
  • Notarized bill of sale.
  • Out-of-state title or vessel registration.

Homemade vessels must be registered if they fit the size regulations. If you made your vessel, you do not have to show proof of ownership but you will check the final box in that section and move on to section three. 

Section four includes information about the vessel, including the Hull ID number issued by the manufacturer. If you have previously registered this vessel, you can fill out the registration number and title number issued by the state of North Carolina or include the registration number from another state in this section as well.

Section five includes your personal information, such as your name, date of birth, contact information, and location. You also have to provide your state-issued driver's license number. If the vessel has a secondary owner, you can include their information on the right side of section five. Section six includes the boat make and model, year, and exact length. This section also requires you to indicate the materials used to construct the boat, motor type, fuel type, primary use, propulsion method, and type.

In section seven, include details about where you purchased the vessel. The final section is for vessels that are subject to liens. After completing all applicable sections of the registration form, you must read the certification statement and sign and date below. If you included a secondary owner on the registration form, they must also sign and date. 

Certificate of Number Requirements

When you register a boat in North Carolina, you will receive a Certificate of Number. The state's Wildlife Commission requires all boat owners to keep the certificate on board when the boat is in use. It can be inspected at any time, so it must remain on the boat and available for inspection if a law enforcement officer requests to see it.

You will also receive a registration number and two decals after completing the registration process. The registration number must be permanently attached or painted to both sides of the bow of the vessel and positioned to ensure maximum visibility. Use block letters in a solid color that contrasts with the color of the boat and that measure at least 3 inches in height. The hyphen or dash in the number can be represented by a space. The decals must be affixed to both sides of the boat within 6 inches of the last character of the registration number.

If you move, you must notify the North Carolina Wildlife Resource Commission in writing as soon as possible to provide your new address. The commission sends all of its correspondence via mail, so it must have a current address to provide you with any important information regarding your registration or use of public waters.

When you want to take your boat out on the beautiful North Carolina waters, make sure to take care of the registration process to keep your vessel legal for use. Don't forget to pick up a Wet Sounds marine audio system to listen to your favorite tunes and create a more enjoyable atmosphere for everyone onboard.