Registrations are required for every recreational boat in Ohio, including powerboats, sailboats, canoes, kayaks, pedal boats, and inflatable boats. NOTE: Kiteboards, paddleboards, and belly boats (or float tubes) do NOT have to be registered as boats in Ohio.
Boat registrations are good for three years and expire on March 1. There is no late fee for renewing after March 1.
Overview of What You Need
What you need to get a boat registered depends on what type of boat it is. Generally you need proof of ownership, some detailed information on the boat, some detailed information on the owner, a drivers license, and the registration fee.
Existing boat registrations can be renewed online as long as you have a PIN and all information on the boat AND owner is up-to-date.
The cost of your registration depends on the length of your boat, how it is propelled, and which type of registration you are buying.
Proof of Ownership
For non-titled boats any one of the following serves as proof of ownership:
- Manufacturers Statement of Origin
- Bill of Sale
- Signed-over registration from previous owner
- Notarized Affidavit of Ownership (Section 3 of Certified Watercraft Registration Application)
For titled boats...
- Proof of ownership is an Ohio title in your name.
Detailed Boat Information
- Hull Identification Number (HIN) or Serial Number
- Boat Number (if previously registered in Ohio)
- Year of Vessel
- Hull Material
The form you need to fill out is the Certified Watercraft Registration Application (DNR 8460R). If the boat has been registered previously, this information would be listed on the previous registration.
What It Costs
The fees you pay to register your boat are deposited in the Waterways Safety Fund, which is used to operate Ohio's boating program.
All registration fees include a $3 writing fee that goes to the agent where you buy your registration. In the case of online renewal, the $3 writing fee goes to the Ohio Division of Parks & Watercraft; it helps cover credit card authorization charges as well as costs incurred with developing and maintaining the secure web application.
Ohio Registration Fees for Any Boat with Motor or Sail
|Length of Boat||Powered by Motor
||Powered by Sail Only (no motor)
|Any boat less than 16 feet or any motorized canoe
|Boats 16 feet but less than 26 feet
|Boats 26 feet but less than 40 feet
|Boats 40 feet but less than 65 feet
|Boats 65 feet or longer
Registration Fees for Hand-powered Vessels - No Motor, No Sail
|ANY LENGTH canoe, kayak, rowboat, inflatable, racing shell, rowing scull, pedal boat
|Traditional Registration — two decals provided; you provide/apply/display OH numbers
|Alternative Registration — one decal provided; no OH numbers required
Adding a Motor to a Boat Previously Registered as Hand-powered - Prorated Fees
If you attach a motor or sail — permanently or not — to a vessel registered as "hand-powered," in order for your boat to remain legal, you must change the information on your registration. The change in registration type (from hand-powered to motor or sail) means a registration fee change, which is prorated based on the number of years remaining on your current registration. (If your registration is expired, you will need to visit an agent to make changes and would pay the appropriate 3-year fee from the Motor or Sail table.)
The proration is only available for Traditional registrations that are adding a motor, and the change must be made at a watercraft registration agent. Alternative registrations by law may not have a motor or sail added.
||3 Years Remaining||2 Years Remaining||1 Year Remaining|
|Under 16 feet and all canoes
|16 feet to less than 26 feet
Cost to Transfer Ownership of an Unexpired Registration: $5
When this is used: When you buy a used boat that has time remaining on the registration.
What form to use: Certified Watercraft Registration Application (DNR 8460R)
What do you get: A registration that has the new owner's name and address on it.
Why do you want this: A boat's registration is not valid unless it is written to the current owner of the boat. This transaction also means that when the boat registration is up for renewal, the renewal notice will go to the new owner.
If the boat is titled, the "proof of ownership" required to complete this transaction is the title written in the new owner's name. If the boat does not require a title, then "proof of ownership" can be the old registration signed over to the new owner (using the form on the back of the old registration). This transaction can only occur in person at a Boat Registration Agent.
If the boat's registration is expired, a full three-year registration must be purchased in order to get a registration card showing the new owner's name. This would include a new decal as well. This transaction also can only occur in person person at a Boat Registration Agent.
Decals and Numbers — Traditional Registration
The "OH" numbers are assigned by ODNR, but it is the boat owner's responsibility to display those numbers correctly.
They can be decals or painted on — as long as they are 3 inches high, block letters (nothing fancy), all one color that contrasts to the color of the boat, and clearly legible.
The OH numbers are to be displayed on the left (port) and right (starboard) front of the boat (bow). Six inches toward the back of the boat (stern), the Ohio Registration Decal should be displayed. This decal has the date that it expires printed on it. Colors of the decal change every year (four colors and they are good for three years) so from afar, law enforcement officers can tell if your boat decal is expired.
NOTE: The Alternative Registration for hand-powered vessels does not require the display of "OH" numbers.