Boat Registration in New Hampshire

New Hampshire is known for its natural beauty and wilderness, from the White Mountains in the northern half of the state to the short but spectacular shoreline. To anyone with a boat, this state is paradise. You might be surprised to learn that there are over 1,300 ponds and lakes and 18 miles of Atlantic coastline in this tiny New England state.

If you have a new boat, there’s just one thing you need to do before you can take it out: Register it with the Granite State. Find out everything you need to know about registering a boat in New Hampshire here.

Key takeaways:

  • Any motorized vessel needs to be registered
  • All sailboats longer than 12ft need to be registered
  • Certificate of Titles are not required/provided
  • Boat registration certificate is valid for 1 year

Do I need to register my boat in New Hampshire?

All boats operated on New Hampshire public water are required to be registered except for:

  • Sailboats less than 12 feet in length 
  • Motorless and sailless boats such as rowboats, canoes, and paddle boats
  • Boats with an out-of-state registration used in New Hampshire for 30 consecutive days or less*
  • Boats owned and operated by the United States government

If you plan to use your boat primarily in New Hampshire and it doesn’t meet one of these exemption conditions, then you need to register it.

*A heads up for out-of-state boaters visiting New Hampshire for 30 days or less. While you do not need to register your boat with New Hampshire, you do need to obtain a New Hampshire aquatic invasive species decal if you plan to operate your boat on New Hampshire water at all. They are available for purchase online for $20 and must be renewed every year. 

This decal from the NHDES should be displayed at all times when using your boat in New Hampshire. Affix this decal to the port side of your boat within three inches of the registration decal.

How do I register my boat for the first time?

To register a boat for the first time in New Hampshire, gather the following materials:

You can drop off your boat registration application in person with an authorized town clerk/boat agent or at an official DMV Drop Box. Certified boat agents can be found at many marinas and boat launches. Some municipalities may also let you register at a Motor Vehicle Registration office. 

Alternatively, submit your materials by mail to: 

  • NH Dept. of Safety
  • DMV - Boat Registrations
  • 23 Hazen Drive
  • Concord, NH 03305

Different types of boats have different proof of ownership requirements. Here are the documents you need for new, used, and homemade vessels.

  • If registering a new boat, present a Bill of Sale
  • If registering a used boat, present the boat’s current certificate of registration and title (if applicable)
  • If registering a homemade boat, present a Bill of Sale, verification of vessel identification, and receipts for purchases of materials

Upon successful registration, you will receive a certificate of registration and bow number if this is the boat’s first time being registered. The bow number will not change for as long as you own the boat.

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

No, you do not need to title your boat in this registration-only state. The state of New Hampshire does not provide certificates of title for water vessels.

What type of fees should I expect?

Registration fees are determined by the length of your boat. See all fees below. 

  • Less than or equal to 16 feet: $24
  • <16 feet to 21 feet: $34
  • <21 feet to 30 feet: $52
  • <30 feet to 45 feet: $72
  • Above 45 feet:  $92

On top of these fees, everyone must pay a $7.50 fee toward the state lake restoration and preservation fund, a $5 fee to use public waters, and a $1 fee toward the game search and rescue fund. You also need to pay an additional $2 if you plan to use your boat on coastal waters.

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

Your boat must display its bow number and registration decal at all times when in operation. Follow these steps to display them.

  • Paint or affix stickers of the registration number to both sides of the front of your vessel using three-inch block letters that contrast in color with your boat. 
  • Separate letters and numbers by a clear space or hyphen.
  • Affix the decals six inches after each number.

You can obtain a replacement registration decal by completing an Application for Replacement Boat Decals and paying a fee of $3.

How do I renew my boat registration?

In New Hampshire, boat registrations need to be renewed every year. All registrations expire on December 31st of the year they were issued. 

Expect a renewal notice in the mail from the Department of Motor Vehicles when it is time to renew. This notice will tell you how much you owe for renewal and serve as your renewal application.

The process for renewing is simple. Just sign the renewal notice and provide payment (the notice will tell you how much you owe), then bring these to a boat agent or Drop Box or mail to:

  • NH Dept. of Safety
  • DMV - Boat Registrations
  • 23 Hazen Drive
  • Concord, NH 03305

Do I have to register my boat trailer in New Hampshire?

All boat trailers in New Hampshire are required to be registered. And although boats in New Hampshire do not need to be titled, boat trailers weighing more than 3,000 pounds do. You can apply for a title when registering.

To register a trailer weighing less than 3,000 pounds, provide a Bill of Sale or completed Vehicle Identification Number Verification Form TDMV 19A if no Bill of Sale is available. 

To register a trailer weighing greater than 3,000 pounds that was manufactured after 2000, provide a certificate of title or Manufacturer’s Certificate of Origin. Older vessels in this category require a Bill of Sale and completed Form TDMV 19A.

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

Once your bow numbers and decals are affixed to your vessel, you are finally ready to take it out on the water. Cruise down the Granite States 18.57 miles of coastline, or travel further inland up the Piscataqua River, or launch it on Lake Winnipesaukee and go fishing. 

When you are ready to take it back to shore, just make sure to store it at a reputable marina. Use Dockwa, the marina reservation app, to find the perfect one for you and your boat.

Additional Resources