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Washington Boat Registration Summary

Washington boat registration summary presents an overview of boat titling, registration, loan perfection, title search, and operational requirements for the State of Washington. Additional boat registration and titling resources can be found by visiting our Registration page as shown in the above menu selections. Boat registration services, supplemental forms, and historical research data  are also available from our Services, Forms, and Database pages.

The information presented here is subject to change and should be confirmed with the respective state agency.
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Boat Registration Agency Washington Boat RegistrationState of Washington
Department of Licensing

Boat Registration Web Site
Boat Registration Statistics There are approximately 239,316 boats registered in the State of Washington. This accounts for 2.0% of all nationwide registrations.
Boat Registration Numbering The registration number prefix for Washington is "WN".
Boat Registration Requirements All power and sailboats must be registered except canoes, kayaks, etc. and sailboats under 16 feet in length without a motor. Boats less than 16 feet in length with a motor of 10 horsepower or less are exempt if used only on non-federal waters. Coast Guard documented vessels must be registered. Boat registration certificates are renewed on an annual basis. Washington residents must register a boat acquired in this state within 15 days.
Boat Title Requirements Boat titles are issued on all registered boats in Washington, except those which are Coast Guard documented. Electronic Boat titles are available at the lender's option.
Conditional Boat Registrations Washington has provisions for bonded boat titles and conditional registrations when there is insufficient proof of ownership.
Abandoned Boats The State of Washington has provisions for the removal of abandoned and derelict boats located within their waters.
Boat Registration Records Boat registration records in Washington are administered by the Department of Licensing. This agency does not facilitate online boat record searches for the general public. If you need a print-out, it will be necessary to submit a written request showing cause for needing the information. Boat title and registration records are maintained indefinitely.
Boat Tax Requirements Sales or use tax is required on all first time registrations and transfers of ownership. The rates vary by county.
Boat Loan Perfection Security interests on non-documented boats which are state titled must be recorded on the state title records. On Coast Guard documented vessels, a preferred mortgage must be recorded on the vessel's abstract of title. A UCC financing statement must be filed if the boat is neither titled or documented.
Boat Ownership Methods Co-owners can be designated as "Joint Tenants With Right of Survivorship" on boat registration records in Washington.
Boat Residency Requirements Non-residents may register a boat in Washington if this is the state of principal usage.
Boat Hull Number Inspections Hull number inspections are not required in Washington unless there is a hull identification number discrepancy.
Boat Reporting Requirements Transfers of ownership, abandonments, thefts, and destructions must be reported within 5 days, excluding weekends and holidays.
Outboard Boat Motors Washington does not issue titles or registrations for outboard motors.
Boat Trailers Boat trailer registration and titling are required in Washington.
Notary Regulations Washington notaries must affix an embossed or stamped seal on all documents notarized in this state.
Boat Dealer Licensing Boat dealers and brokers must be licensed in Washington and post a $5,000 bond.


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