Information about vessels boats and watercraft

When Do I Have to Renew My Vessel Registration?

You must renew your vessel registration by December 31 of every odd-numbered year (i.e., 2003, 2005, etc.) regardless of use. DMV mails a renewal notice approximately 60 days prior to the expiration date.

The department issues a Certificate of Number (registration certificate) and registration stickers to identify a vessel as currently registered. These stickers must be securely affixed to each side of the vessel three inches aft of and directly in line with the registration numbers and must be clearly visible at all times. Do not place any numbers, letters, or devices in the proximity of the registration sticker.

Image displaying correct location to place Registration Sticker on vessel



How do I Renew my Vessel Registration?

Simply return the bottom portion of your renewal notice in the envelope provided with a check, cashier's check, or money order for the fee. If you do not receive a renewal notice, you may submit a copy of your current Certificate of Number with the payment.


What If I Lose the Certificates or Stickers?

If you lost the title, complete an Application for Duplicate or Paperless Title (REG 227). If you lost the Certificate of Number or sticker, complete an Application for Replacement Plates, Stickers, Documents (REG 156) to replace the lost certificates or sticker and pay the fee.

Link for DMV vessel forms.


Can a Certificate of Number (Registration Certificate) Become Invalid?

A Certificate of Number becomes invalid when:

  • The vessel is required to be documented with the U.S. Coast Guard.
  • The vessel owner transfers ownership.
  • The vessel is destroyed or abandoned.
  • The vessel is no longer used primarily in California.

What Are the Regulations for the Vessel Registration Number?

The vessel registration number (CF number) issued by the department must be displayed as follows:

  • Painted on or permanently attached to each side of the forward half of the vessel.
  • Be in plain vertical block characters of not less than three inches in height.
  • Be arranged so that it it reads from left to right.
  • Contrast with the color of the background so that it is distinctly visible and legible.
  • Have spaces or hyphens that are equal to the width of a letter other than "I" or a number other than "1" between the prefix and the number, and the number and the suffix. See the example below.

Example: CF 1234 AB (see example above)


What About the Hull Identification Number?

A hull identification number (HIN) must be displayed on all vessels registered in California. The HIN must be:

  • Permanently affixed to the vessel in such a way that its alteration, removal, or replacement would be obvious.
  • Assigned and affixed by manufacturers to commercially built vessels.
  • Assigned by the DMV to homemade vessels.

Other Information Unique to Vessels

  • DMV will withhold a vessel renewal, if the county tax collector notifies the department that the personal property taxes are delinquent on a vessel (vessels registered in California are assessed property taxes by the county tax collector where the vessel is stored or where it is moored. Contact the county tax collector for the county in which you reside or where the vessel is moored, if you do not received your tax bill).
  • You will receive the "ABCs of California Boating Laws" booklet when you first register the vessel in your name. This booklet contains the current safety and registration information.