Boat Registration Number Help

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. Check with your State boating authority for numbering requirements. Some States require all vessels to be numbered. The Coast Guard issues the certificate of number in Alaska; all others are issued by the State.

Some larger recreational vessels may be documented. The certificate of documentation MUST be on board a documented vessel at all times.
A document serves as a certificate of nationality and an authorization for a specific trade. A documented vessel is not exempt from applicable State or Federal taxes, nor is its operator exempt from compliance with Federal or State equipment carriage requirements.


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

Installing Vinyl Boat Numbers

For proper adherence, the side of your boat or the transom should be considered as dirty and should therefore be cleaned prior to installing your vinyl lettering. Household surface cleaners, such as Windex, are acceptable; however, we recommend a 2-to-1 mixture of water and isopropyl alcohol. After thorough washing, wipe the surface dry with a clean, dry, lint-free cloth.

Measure and mark the area of your boat you wish to apply your vinyl numbers. Once you have the overall area defined and marked, you should have a good idea as to where the upper right and left corners of the decal should be placed.

Tape the left corner in place and put a piece of tape down the center of the decal. At this time, using a water-soluble pencil, place a mark on the right and left side of the boat registration numbers.

On the Left side, hold the paper and peel off the tape until you reach the center of the decal. Cut the paper as close to the center as you can, without scratching your surface.

Spray the surface on the left side with water and place the left side of the decal down on the surface. With the application tape still intact, squeegee the decal to the surface by applying pressure with smooth even strokes.

Lift up the right hand side of the decal and remove the remainder of the backing paper. Apply water to the right hand surface. Place the right hand decal taking care to align your marks on the right hand side.

It is a good Idea to wait just a couple of minutes before you remove the application tape. This allows the water to begin drying and will prevent the decal from trying to come up. Once it is adhered to the surface, squeegee the entire decal a second time. Then carefully peel the tape off the entire decal.


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