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How to Register a Boat in Indiana

If you’re a resident of Indiana and you own a boat, it’s important to register it with the state. Registering your boat ensures that it is legally recognized and allows you to operate it on Indiana’s waterways. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to register a boat in Indiana, along with some frequently asked questions (FAQs) to help you through the process.

Step 1: Gather the Required Documentation

Before you begin the registration process, make sure you have the following documents ready:

1. Proof of Ownership: This can be in the form of a Manufacturer’s Statement of Origin (MSO), a title, or a bill of sale.

2. Hull Identification Number (HIN): The HIN is a unique 12-digit number assigned to your boat by the manufacturer. It is usually located on the starboard side of the transom.

3. Valid Identification: You will need to provide a valid driver’s license or state-issued identification card.

4. Payment: The registration fee, which varies depending on the length of your boat, must be paid at the time of registration.

Step 2: Complete the Registration Application

Once you have gathered the necessary documentation, you can complete the registration application. This can be done online through the Indiana Department of Natural Resources (DNR) website or by mail.

If you choose to register online, visit the DNR’s website and click on the “Register Watercraft” tab. Follow the prompts and fill in the required information. You will need to provide details about your boat, such as its make, model, length, and year of manufacture. Additionally, you will need to enter your personal information and upload any required documents.

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If you prefer to register by mail, you can download the registration application form from the DNR’s website. Fill out the form accurately and send it, along with the required documentation and payment, to the address provided on the form.

Step 3: Pay the Registration Fees

The registration fees for boats in Indiana are based on the length of the vessel. As of 2021, the fees range from $30 for boats under 16 feet in length to $75 for boats 45 feet and over. You can find the complete fee schedule on the DNR’s website. Payment can be made online if you register electronically or by check or money order if you register by mail.

Step 4: Display Your Registration Numbers and Decals

Once your registration application is processed and approved, you will receive a registration number and decals from the DNR. These must be displayed on your boat as follows:

– The registration number must be displayed on both sides of the forward half of the boat’s hull. The numbers must be in block letters, at least 3 inches high, and in a color that contrasts with the background.

– The decals must be affixed to both sides of the boat, within 6 inches of the registration number. They should be easily visible and not obstructed by any other objects.


1. How long is the boat registration valid in Indiana?
Boat registrations in Indiana are valid for three years. You will receive a renewal notice by mail approximately 60 days before your current registration expires.

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2. Can I transfer my boat registration to a new owner?
Yes, boat registrations in Indiana are transferable. The seller must complete the transfer section on the back of the registration card and provide it to the buyer. The buyer must then submit the completed transfer section, along with the required documentation and fees, to the DNR.

3. Do I need to register kayaks or canoes?
No, kayaks and canoes that are not motorized or sail-powered are exempt from registration in Indiana.

4. Are there any age restrictions for boat operators in Indiana?
Yes, anyone born after January 1, 1988, is required to complete a boater education course before operating a motorized boat in Indiana.

5. Can I register my boat if it was previously registered in another state?
Yes, if you recently moved to Indiana and your boat was previously registered in another state, you can register it in Indiana. You will need to provide proof of ownership, such as the out-of-state registration or title, along with the other required documents.

Registering your boat in Indiana is a straightforward process that ensures compliance with state regulations. By following these steps and providing the necessary documentation, you can enjoy your boat safely and legally on Indiana’s beautiful waterways.