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Registration Requirements

Every motorboat (or motorized watercraft) operated on Indiana waterways must be registered with the BMV and display valid watercraft decals.

The following are exempt from obtaining an Indiana registration:

  • Non-motorized boats, including, but are not limited to, canoes, rowboats, and paddleboats, but excludes sailboats. Non-motorized sailboats must display valid watercraft decals and pay any applicable fees and taxes. 
  • Motorized watercraft from another country that is temporarily operated on Indiana waters.
  • A ship’s lifeboat.
  • Motorized watercraft that is legally registered in another state and:
    • has not been within Indiana for more than 60 consecutive days;
    • the owner of the motorboat has paid the required Indiana excise taxes and fees.
    • is moored on the Indiana part of Lake Michigan for not more than 180 consecutive days.

To apply for a certificate of registration, you must provide proof of ownership. If you do not have a certificate of title to provide as proof of ownership and the watercraft is not required to be titled, you may complete and affirm ownership on a Watercraft Ownership Affidavit – State Form 55100.

The BMV will issue a certificate of registration, a registration number, and two decals for each watercraft registration.

  • The certificate of registration must accompany the watercraft and be made available for inspection whenever the watercraft is in operation.
  • The registration number must be displayed, painted on, or attached to each side of the bow of the watercraft so that the number is legible and clearly visible.
  • The decals contain the watercraft’s registration number and expiration date and must be affixed either:
    • To the bow of each side of the watercraft, within three inches to the right of the watercraft’s registration number forward half of the watercraft; or
    • On each side of the forward half of the bow above the water line of the boat if a registration number is not required to be displayed.

Watercraft registrations must be renewed annually on or before your scheduled expiration date.

Learn more about your registration renewal date
Learn more about boat excise tax rates
Learn more about boat registration fees

Ordering Information

An application for a new, renew, or duplicate watercraft registration may be processed at any BMV branch. Registration renewals and duplicate registration cards may be processed online.

Renew your registration online

You will receive the certificate of registration and watercraft decals in the mail within 14 days.


If you have received a notice from the Indiana Department of Transportation indicating that a hold has been placed on your vehicle registration, contact RiverLink at 1-855-RIV-LINK or visit riverlink.com for toll payment options. Once toll violations have been paid in full, the hold will be removed from the vehicle registration.

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