Boat Registration in Georgia 

Congrats on your new boat! Before you cruise along Georgia’s 100 miles of shoreline or up one of its seven main rivers, you’ll need to meet Georgia’s boat registration requirements. This is what proves you’re the rightful owner of your boat. Checking off the Peach State’s boat registration list can be a bit choppier than a day on the water, which is why we’ve created this guide to take you through each step of the process. Read below to ensure smooth sailing!

Key takeaways:

  •  Any mechanically propelled boat needs to be registered
  •  Any sailboat more than 12 feet in length needs to be registered
  •  Step 1 is to fill out the Vessel Registration Application
  •  Boat registration certificate is valid for 3 years
  •  Renewal is mailed to you 60 days before expiration

Do I need to register my boat in Georgia?

All mechanically powered vessels, regardless of size, and sailboats 12 feet or more in length must be registered in Georgia.

However, registration is NOT required for the following types of vessels:

  1.  Sailboats less than 12 feet in length with no mechanical propulsion attached.
  2.  Vessels exclusively powered by hand (ex: canoes, kayaks, rowboats, inflatables).
  3.  Boats, regardless of size or type that are exclusively operated on private lakes or ponds.
  4.  Boats that are fully registered in another state and will only be operated in Georgia waters for up to 60 days.

If these exemptions do not apply to you, continue reading to learn how to register your boat in Georgia.

How does first-time boat registration work?

Let’s dive into Georgia’s boat registration process. There are two documents you’re required to submit to register your vessel in Georgia:

  •  Proof of Ownership. This requirement is most commonly satisfied by a Bill of Sale. If that’s not readily available, you can also use any of the documents listed here. If you can’t produce any of those documents, you can still prove you’re the rightful owner of your boat by completing an Affidavit of Vessel Ownership Form.
  1.  A completed and signed Vessel Registration Application. This application will require the vessel owner’s contact information and details of their boat’s make and model, among other technical information. If you are completing and submitting the registration application online, you can use an e-signature instead of physically signing the application. 

In addition to these two documents, some vessels require extra ones to complete the registration process:

  • Georgia vessels with paper titles on record
  • These vessels have what’s called an eTitle in Georgia’s registration system. If a paper title has been created for the vessel, it is the controlling document, and the Georgia paper title is required to be transferred to the new owner and the original must be physically submitted. If transfer of paper title is not available, the Vessel Affidavit of Ownership must be completed. Remember to always keep a copy of any original documents you submit in the registration process.
  • Brand new vessels
  • Boats that have never been registered need the original Manufacturer’s Statement of Origin. 
  • Out-of-state registrations
  • If you’re from out-of-state and wish to register your boat in Georgia, you’ll have to include the title if you’re coming from a title state. If you are not coming from a title state, you may submit a copy of your out-of-state registration card. 
  • Homemade vessels that have never been registered. 
  • If you’re handsy enough to build your own boat, you’ll need to include your HIN number in your application. If you do not have one, you must undergo a DNR HIN inspection after you register your boat and pay the registration fees. Only the builder of a homemade boat intended for their own personal use may request a HIN and register the vessel. Reminder, homemade vessels cannot be transferred or sold in Georgia. 

You’re almost there! After assembling your application, you can submit it in one of four ways:

  1. Create a customer account at You’ll need to upload clear photos of your documents or scan them into your account. This is the fastest way to register your boat.
  2. Call  1-800-366-2661 to complete the application over the phone. This is an old-school yet still fast way to get your registration done.
  3. Stick your documents in an envelope and mail them to GA Dept. of Natural Resources, P.O. Box 934943, Atlanta, GA 31193-4943. This is the slowest way to finish your registration. They don’t call it snail mail for nothing!

Depending on your situation, it may take up to four to six weeks to receive your registration. The good news is that this doesn’t have to delay your boating timeline. Temporary boat registrations are available and good for 60 days in Georgia. Make sure you look out for this option when submitting your application

When I register my boat, do I also need to apply for a certificate of title?

Good news, Georgia does not require your boat to be titled when applying for registration!  The only exception is if you are submitting an application for a used boat from a boat titling state. In that scenario, you’ll have to include a copy title.

Do I need to complete a boater education course to operate my vessel?

Before you get out on the water, Georgia requires all persons born on or after January 1, 1998, to complete a boat education course before operating any motorized vessel. Individuals exempt from this mandatory education include the following:

  1. A person licensed by the U.S. Coast Guard as a master of a vessel
  2. Boaters only operating on a private lake or pond
  3. Non-residents who have proof that they completed a NASBLA-approved boater education course or equivalency examination from another state

If none of these exemptions apply to you, you can find a list of courses approved by the Georgia DNR here.

What type of fees should I expect?

Georgia boating registration fees are determined based on the length of your boat:

  1. Boats less than 16ft in length: $35
  2. Boats between 16ft and <26ft: $70
  3. Boats between 26ft and <40ft: $140
  4. Boats 40ft and over in length: $210

Additional registration costs you may face include…

  1. $11 for duplicate registration cards 
  2. $5 for a marine toilet certificate with boat registration
  3. $15 for standalone marine toilet certificates.
All applications will also have either a $10 transaction fee if paid over the phone, online, or by mail. You can also opt for a thick plastic registration card in addition to the flexible plastic registration card for an extra $10.

What do I do with the registration certificate, number, decal?

Once you have successfully registered your boat, you will receive a registration card, two decals, and be assigned a bow number. 

The registration card must remain aboard the boat whenever the vessel is on the water. We suggest either laminating it or putting it in a waterproof sleeve and then storing it in a compartment near the steering wheel.

You’ll then need to display your assigned bow number on each side of the front half of your boat. While you can paint these numbers on, we suggest opting instead for vinyl stickers from places like BoatUS or WestMarine. These numbers and letters need to be at least 3 inches in height, read left to right, and in a color that contrasts with your boat's hull color.

Finally, your registration decals should be affixed to either side of the bow just like your assigned bow number. The decals should be placed 3 inches away from the end of the bow numbers.

How do I renew my boat registration?

All boat registrations are valid for three years. The Georgia Department of Natural Resources will send you a renewal notice in the mail 60 days before the expiration of your current boat registration. However, registrations may be renewed any time after October 1, the year before expiration. 

Keep in mind that If you allow your registration to lapse, not only will you incur a $10 late fee, but you may have to get a new registration number. Therefore it saves you some money and headaches to renew early.

To renew your registration, simply fill out the Vessel Registration Form again, marking the fields that indicate you are renewing your registration. You do not need to submit any additional information when renewing your Georgia boat registration. 

You can submit your renewal application in the same ways as the initial registration application: 

  1. Online through
  2. Over the phone at 1-800-366-2661
  3. Mail to GA Dept. of Natural Resources, P.O. Box 934943 Atlanta, GA 31193-4943.

As long as you renew before lapsing, your registration number will not change, so there’s no need to update the numbers affixed to your boat. You will have to replace the registration decal since the sticker shows your expiration date. To do so, simply secure your new sticker directly on top of the old.

Do I have to register my boat trailer in Georgia?

You’ll need to register your boat trailer with the Georgia Motor Vehicle Division. You can apply for your trailer registration certificate in person at the closest Georgia MVD.

What do I do once my boat is ready for open waters?

Georgia’s waters have something for every boater! If you’re angling for some fun, you’ll be hooked by any one of Georgia’s eleven Public Fishing Areas. You can also cruise down the Georgia coast or up one of its 7 main rivers for a classic nautical adventure. 

When you need to come back to shore, dock at a marina in Georgia. Marinas have incredible amenities and can host you for just one night or an entire season. Here’s a list of 22 Georgia marinas visited and reviewed by boaters just like you.

Additional Resources