Do Pontoon Boats Need to be Registered?

You have bought your dream pontoon boat and are excited to take its first ride. But, you don’t know whether pontoon boats need to be registered or not?

Don’t worry, as you are not alone in this dilemma. Pontoons have recently become famous for being ‘party-friendly’ in the waters.

In this article, we will clear all your doubts regarding the registration of your pontoon boat.

So to answer the doubt: “Do Pontoon Boats Need to be Registered?’’

The answer is, yes, most states require a person to register their pontoon boats legally. By registering, the person documents their pontoon boat with the state.

You legally require registration for pontoon boats if you intend to use the vessel. And it is the most important thing to show if authorities stop you for any reason. If you don’t have it, then it can cause you a bit of trouble.

Let’s now discuss other factors and processes that would make the process of registering your pontoon boat easier.

Table Of Contents

How to Register Your Pontoon Boat

Here are the steps you can follow while registering your dream pontoon boat:

  1. Each state has its own rules and requirements. You can check for your state here.
  2. Fill out the registration form via mail, online or in-person
  3. Provide the title/bill of sale to provide proof of ownership
  4. Lastly, pay the registration fee

Voila, you have registered your pontoon boat in just four steps.

Temporary Registration

Your boating registration is under process, but you are too excited to wait and want to take a trip on your pontoon with your loved ones.

You need not worry as you can take your pontoon in the waters by having a temporary registration with you while your permanent registration is in process.

But remember that the temporary registration should be issued by an approved registration agent and then you are good to go.

Boat Title

The boat title proves the ownership of your pontoon and is required during the process of registering your boat.

The states have their own requirements, but generally, motorized boats over 12 feet are required to be titled.

In the case of pontoons, they need to be titled as they are of an average of 22 feet and motorized.

Also Read: How Do You Keep Aluminium Pontoons from Corroding? 

Placement of Registration Number

After you register the pontoon boat with the state, you will get a license plate. The plate is a coded series comprising letters and numbers.

Here are some legal guidelines that you need to follow while placing your registration plate on the boat:

  1. The license plate must be placed on each side of the bow on the forward half
  2. They must be visible and placed above the waterline
  3. They must be in a readable form from left to right
  4. They must be in a contrasting color of the background
  5. Letters must not be smaller than three inches
  6. The letters and numbers must be separated with a space or hyphen

There is no specific guideline for the style and background of the plate. So you can play with pop, contemporary or minimal styles suited to your aesthetics. But remember that the registration plate should be clearly visible.

Maintaining the Registration

The registration of your pontoon boat is not permanent. It generally needs to get updated regularly.

Generally, you need to get the registration renewed annually. To get it renewed, you have to pay an amount. Usually, your boating registration authority would automatically send you a renewal form. 

Once you fill out the form and pay the amount, you will get the renewal stickers.

Removing License Stickers 

If you are selling your pontoon, buying a new one, changing the registration number, the stickers got worn out or you want to give a makeover to your beloved pontoon boat, you might have to peel off the existing numbers.

And it is not an easy task to do as doing it wrong can leave scratches and can also leave behind marks that you do not necessarily want.

You either get it done by an expert removal service by paying them or can follow these steps and do the same by yourself.

Lost Registration Card

You suddenly realize that you have lost your registration card or your pontoon title and are panic-stricken. Well, relax and take a deep breath.

As every problem has a solution, so does this problem. One can get a duplicate registration card and title by contacting your boating registration authority. You usually need to pay $3 for a duplicate registration card and $5 for a duplicate title. Although, the rates may vary according to the different states. 

Also Read: Are Pontoon Boats Easy To Maintain?

Reporting Change

In case of a change of ownership of the pontoon boat or your address change, you must inform the state concerned.

You must do the above within 15 days to avoid problems and legal headaches afterward. In short, the sooner, the better.

Loaning a Pontoon

If you wish to get a loan to finance your pontoon boat, there are some guidelines that you need to follow. They are as follows:

  1. You should necessarily need to have a title and other state-required documents.
  2. You can also show Uniform Commercial Code (UCC) documentation if you don’t have a title.
  3. The financial institution will have the right to possess your vehicle in case of non-fulfillment of the loan.
  4. The financial institution will be the lien holder.
  5. If the lien is still listed, no state can register the pontoon to another name without the termination of the lien.

You can sell your pontoon to a new owner only when you will pay back the bank the amount. After you pay back, the bank will release the lien, and then only your pontoon gets eligible to be sold to another person.


Thus, you are required to get your pontoon boat registered legally in most states. But we would suggest getting your pontoon registered irrespective of your state to avoid problems later on. Also with your registration plate, you can travel inter-state freely within the country. 

The registration process is simple, and all your doubts related to the registration process have been answered in this article. You can always refer to these points and make the journey of registering your pontoon easy.

All you need to remember is to check the rules, regulations, and requirements of the state concerned prior so that you can travel hassle-free on your beloved pontoon boat.

Hope you got your answer that “Do Pontoon Boats Need to be Registered or not” !

We wish you a happy and safe Pontoon Journey!

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