To navigate, operate, employ, or moor your vessel in Washington, you must know the laws and have a title from the Washington Department of Licensing, a registration card, and registration decals, unless your vessel is one of the following:
- A canoe, kayak, or not propelled by a motor or sail.
- Less than 16 feet in length and has a motor of 10 horsepower or less and you use on non-federal waters only.
- Is properly registered by a resident of another state or country who uses Washington waters for 60 days or fewer.
See additional exemptions at the Department of Licensing Web site.
The registration card (the cutout portion of the Vessel Registration Certificate) must be onboard whenever you use your vessel.
- If you live in Washington and bought the boat in another state, you must title and register your vessel within 15 days of its purchase.
- You must notify the Washington Department of Licensing by calling the service center at (360) 902-3770; TTY (360) 664-8885 within 15 days if your vessel is abandoned, destroyed, lost, stolen, or recovered; if you change your address; or if you lose your registration card.
U.S. Coast Guard Documentation
Larger recreational vessels owned by U.S. citizens may (at the option of the owner) be documented by the U.S. Coast Guard. Call the Coast Guard at 1-800-799-8362 for more information. Documented vessels also must be registered in Washington but are not required to display the registration number.
Required Carbon Monoxide Warning Sticker
By law, any new or used motor vessel, other than a Jet Ski-type personal watercraft, must display a carbon monoxide warning sticker that alerts passengers of the dangers of carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning.
Warning stickers can be the “Washington State CO” sticker or a Department of Licensing-approved sticker that was installed by previous owners in another state or by the manufacturer.
If you don’t receive a sticker when you renew or register, contact your local vehicle licensing office.
Download the carbon monoxide informational brochure, Boating and the Dangers of Carbon Monoxide.
Boaters Visiting Washington State
Visiting boaters may recreate on state waters for up to 60 days without a permit if the vessel is registered in another state or has current U.S. Coast Guard documentation.
If you plan to be on Washington waters longer, apply for a permit on or before the 60th day of your visit. To get a permit, visit any vehicle licensing office and bring your unexpired state vessel registration and identification from your state. You may renew the permit once for an additional 60 days. When the renewed permit expires, you must either register your boat in Washington or remove your boat from Washington waters.
Aquatic Invasive Species Prevention Permits
Operators of watercraft not registered in Washington State, seaplanes, and commercial transporters of specified vessel types must buy an aquatic invasive species prevention permits to help prevent the spread of invasive species in Washington.