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Indiana Boat Rules and Registration Costs

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Registering Your Boat or PWC

IC 9-31-3

* You must have an Indiana certificate of registration and a validation decal to legally operate a watercraft on public waters in Indiana unless:

- The watercraft is non-motorized (watercraft using an electric trolling motor require registration)

- It is registered in another state and has operated on Indiana waters for not more than 60 consecutive days

* Boats documented by the U.S. Coast Guard must also be registered by the State and display the excise decal.

* Submit the proper application to any state Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV) License Branch. You will receive a certificate of registration and two validation decals.

* The certificate of registration indicates the number that must be displayed on the bow of the watercraft.

* You must keep the certificate on board and available for inspection by an enforcement officer whenever the boat or PWC is being operated.

* You must display the registration number and validation decals as follows (140 IAC 9-4-2):

- Number must be painted, applied as a decal or otherwise affixed to both sides of the bow.

- Number shall read from left to right on both sides of the bow.

- Number’s color must contrast with its background.

- Number must be in at least three-inch-high BLOCK letters.

- Numbers must be single color and clearly legible from a distance of 100 feet.

- Decals must be affixed on both sides of the boat, to the right side of and within three inches of the registration number.

- Certain sailboats may qualify for an alternate display location for these decals (312 IAC 5-12.5-1).

* Decals include the month and year of expiration. Only the current decal may be displayed.

* If your watercraft requires registration, it is illegal to operate or allow others to operate it unless it is registered and properly numbered.

Other Facts About Titling Your Boat or PWC

IC 9-31-2

* A watercraft that must be registered must also have a certificate of title except:

- Watercraft acquired by the owner before January 1, 1986

- Watercraft that is less than $3,000 in value when new

- Home-built watercraft built for personal use and not for resale.

* Although there are exemptions from titling, you may still want to title your boat. A title verifies ownership in case the boat is stolen.

* Registration information must be kept current.

* The boat excise tax decal is valid for one year. Owners who have already registered their watercraft will automatically be sent a renewal notice to their residence.

* If you change address, you must notify a BMV license branch within 30 days of the change.

* If you transfer ownership of your boat, or it is destroyed, the owner should report it to the local BMV license branch within 15 days.

* If you lose or destroy your certificate of registration or decal you must apply to the BMV for a duplicate and submit a processing fee.

* Larger recreational boats, owned by U.S. citizens, may (at the option of the owner) be documented by the U.S. Coast Guard. Call the USCG’s Documentation Center at 1-800-799-8362 for more information. USCG documented boats must also have a certificate of registration but are exempt from displaying the “IN†numbers.

Registration Fees

Applications for titles and registration are available from any tax collector’s office, marine dealers, marinas, or Bureau of Motor Vehicles License Branch. Also you can download forms from the Indiana Bureua of Motor Vehicles website.

The annual registration fees are based on boat length:

Boat Length Fee

0 to 13 feet $16

13 to 26 feet $18

26 to 40 feet $21

Over 40 feet $26

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