Boat & Vessel Owners

Boat Side

Whether you’re boating on lakes, rivers, or even the ocean, this guide will help you get your feet wet so you know everything you need to know before diving in and setting sail.

In This Guide

Boat/Vessel Registration

Learn what kinds of vessels must be registered, get a hull identification number (HIN) or vehicle registration number (CF number), and more.

Boat/Vessel Registration Renewal

You must renew your boat/vessel registration by December 31 of every odd-numbered year, regardless of how often you use it.

Titles & Transfers

Buying or selling a boat/vessel? Find out what you need to do before, during, and after the sale or purchase.

Boat/Vessel Fees

Review fees related to operating a boat/vessel on California waterways and create an estimate.

Vessel Numbers and CF Numbers

An HIN must be displayed on all vessels registered in California

Forms for Boats/Vessels

From registration forms to vessel verification, find all the boat and vessel related forms DMV has.

Frequently Asked Questions

An undocumented vessel is registered by DMV and does not have a marine certificate issued by the United States (U.S.) Coast Guard.

A documented vessel is registered and issued a marine certificate by the U.S. Coast Guard. It does not require DMV registration. Please see the previous note.

You are required to register your undocumented vessel and pay applicable fees before it is placed in California waters.

Assembly Bill (AB) 2443 (Chapter 485, Statutes of 2012) authorized the California Department of Parks and Recreation, Division of Boating and Waterways to require DMV to collect a quagga and zebra mussel infestation prevention fee.

Since 2013, this fee has been due on all DMV-registered vessels boating in freshwater bodies. Vessels used exclusively in marine waters are exempt from this fee. The sticker must be purchased every two years to remain current; however, you can still purchase the sticker throughout the year.

Funds from the sale of the Mussel Fee Stickers are used to implement infestation prevention programs including planning, mussel monitoring, vessel inspection, and boater education.

Mussel Fee Stickers are purchased separately from vessel registration. A unique identifying Mussel Fee Sticker will be issued for the vessel as evidence of payment of this fee and must be displayed on the vessel next to the registration sticker.

Additional information regarding quagga and zebra mussels is available from the California Department of Parks and Recreation, Division of Boating and Waterways or by calling 1-888-326-2822.


Effective with the December 2013 registration, the California Department of Parks and Recreation, Division of Boating and Waterways adopted regulations to establish the procedures for the collection and use of the quagga and zebra mussel infestation prevention fee as required by California Harbors and Navigation Code Chapter 5, Division 3, Article 1.3 §675 through 676. These regulations specify how the fee will be collected and the criteria for administering the grants in accordance with the statutes.

To pay the Quagga and Zebra Mussel Infestation fee and obtain a Quagga sticker, please go to the Mussel Fee Sticker Request page.

  • Before applying the decal, wipe down the hull surface and remove any residue or debris.
  • Do not apply decals to a wet surface.
  • Use the center slit to grab the upper corner of the decal.
  • Very slowly peel away the decal, at a sharp angle, from the liner.
  • If the backer liner starts to rip, stop and start to peel away from the other direction.
  • You must remove all the liner backing material for the decal to adhere to the vessel correctly.
  • Apply the decal to the vessel and smooth out any air bubbles.

If you boat in California fresh waters such as the Delta, rivers, lakes, reservoirs, and streams, you must purchase and display a Mussel Fee sticker next to your registration sticker. The Mussel Fee sticker matches the registration sticker by color and date.

You may purchase the Mussel Fee sticker online. The vessel registration/renewal and sticker transactions are separate. Once you receive your Mussel Fee stickers, place them on either side of the registration sticker as shown below.

Starboard and port sides of vessels. Arrows indicate where to place Mussel Fee and Registration stickers. On the starboard side of the hull the stickers are placed to the immediate left of the CF number. On the port side the stickers are placed to the immediate right of the CF number.

Need something else?