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Ohio Boating Registration

Ohio Boat Titles

In Ohio, you are legally required to obtain an Ohio Certificate of title if your boat falls into any of the following categories:

  • an outboard motor of 10 horsepower or greater;
  • .
  • a watercraft 14 feet or greater in length;
  • a watercraft less than 14 feet in length with a permanently affixed mechanical means of propulsion of 10 horsepower or greater.

Titling Exceptions

The following are exempt from Ohio's titling requirement:

  • vessels documented by the US Coast Guard
  • .
  • canoes and kayaks
  • watercraft less than 14 feet in length without a permanently affixed mechanical means of propulsion
  • watercraft less than 14 feet in length with a permanently affixed mechanical means of propulsion of less than 10 horsepower
  • .
  • boats from other countries
  • ship's lifeboat
  • boats owned by government agencies
  • .
  • motors less than 10 horsepower

Boat Registration

No person shall operate any watercraft without a valid registration. Evidence of registration is shown by displaying two square registration tags or a rectangular tag (Alternative Registration for hand-powered vessels only) and carrying the valid registration certificate on board the vessel.


Once a proper application is submitted with the required fee, you will receive a Certificate of Registration and two (2) validation decals. The Certificate of Registration must be carried on board when boat is in use. The validation decals must be affixed to the boat. See below for placement instructions.


Registration Exceptions

The following are exempt from Ohio's registration requirement:

  • boats issued commercial documentation and used exclusively for commercial purposes
  • vessels meeting another state's registration system requirements which are used in Ohio for less than 60 days.
  • boats from a country other than the United States temporarily using Ohio water
  • boats owned by the United States, a state, or a political subdivision
  • a ship's lifeboat. A "lifeboat" is held aboard another vessel and used exclusively for emergency purposes.
  • vessels exempted by the chief of the Division of Watercraft
  • vessels under a waiver issued for a race or special event

Numbering Your Vessel

Every watercraft operated on Ohio water shall be numbered by this state or in compliance with their own state numbering system and shall properly display the assigned number.

The following are exempt from Ohio's numbering requirement:

  • vessels documented by the US Coast Guard
  • hand-powered vessels thatdisplay an Alternative Registration
  • boats numbered by another state and not used in this state for more than 60 days
  • boats from a country other than the United States temporarily using Ohio water
  • boats owned by the United States, a state, or a political subdivision
  • a ship's lifeboat. A "lifeboat" is held aboard another vessel and used exclusively for emergency purposes
  • vessels exempted by the chief of the Division of Watercraft
  • vessels under a waiver issued for a race or special event

Once your boat has been assigned a registration number and decals, you must display them on your boat correctly. The registration number must be displayed on each side of the bow, read from left to right and in a position to be distinctly visible. The letters and numbers must be of a plain BLOCK design, at least three (3) inches tall and of a color that contrasts to the color of the hull. There must be a letter size space or hyphen between letter and number groups:

Correct: OH 1234 YZ or OH-1234-YZ
Incorrect: OH1234YZ


Registration decals are to be placed within six inches behind (toward the stern) and in line with the registration number. This means the decal is placed 6 before the registration number on the starboard, (right) side and 6 after the registration number on the port, (left) side.

Upon renewal on March 1 every three years, you are to remove your old registration decals before affixing the current ones.

Home-Built Vessels

Before you can title or register your homemade boat, you must first apply for a 12-digit Hull Identification Number (HIN) with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources Watercraft division (ODNR).

To learn more about titling an registering your boat in Ohio, please click here.