Do Electric Boats Need To Be Registered?

Yes, electric boats typically need to be registered in most jurisdictions. You should always double-check local regulations for specifics.

The need for registration is often based on factors such as the boat’s size, its intended use, and where it will be operated.

As the marine industry ponders if boats will become electric, it’s essential to know their registration requirements. So, that’s exactly what this article covers.

πŸ“‹ Factors for Registration

Navigating the waters with electric propulsion brings a sense of tranquility and environmental responsibility. 

The law setting out the registration requirements for electric boats is the same one as applies to traditional boats powered by sail or internal combustion engines. 

All states require a powered boat to be registered in the boat owner’s state.

These powered boats and several other categories are required to be registered. Boats that weigh more than 5 tons and are owned by a U.S. citizen must be registered federally through the offices of the U.S. Coast Guard. 

The good news is that all states allow boats registered in other states to be used without paying any additional fee.  

The factors determining where and how the electric boat is registered are listed below.

Boat Type

The first consideration is the type of boat you own. Familiarize yourself with the different types of electric boats and their registration norms.

Boat Length

The regulations dictating boat registrations vary by state. In this regard, there are two categories that the different states fall under.

  1. Category 1 – All powered boats (including electric motors) must be registered. This includes conventional motors, trolling motors, sail drives on yachts, and pod motors on vessels as small as canoes.
  2. Category 2 – Boats over a certain length (normally 14 feet) must be registered. This includes all vessels, even canoes that exceed the minimum length.

The specifics differ from place to place, so you must familiarize yourself with the regulations governing the waters you’ll be navigating.

Motor Power

Motor power is another pivotal factor in the registration equation. Different states distinguish between powered and unpowered boats.

As discussed above, some states base the registration requirements on boat length, while others do so on the vessel’s power source.

Despite the quiet operation and reduced emissions of electric motors, the fact that they provide motivation power to the boat means that they must be registered in some states.

State Regulations

The requirements by the state are listed below.

AlaskaAll boats
AlabamaAll boats
ArizonaAll motorized watercraft
CaliforniaAll boats must be registered
ColoradoAll sail and power boats must be registered
ConnecticutAll boats with motors and sailboats 19 1/2 feet or more
DelawareAll motorboats, as well as boats powered by electric motors
District of ColumbiaAll boats, kayaks, canoes, sailboats, and paddle boats must be registered
FloridaOnly sea-going vessels over 16 feet
GeorgiaAll mechanically-propelled vessels and sailboats longer than 12 feet 
HawaiiAll vessels
IdahoAny vessel built in 2000 or newer with a permanently attached propulsion mode (i.e., sterndrives, inboards, PWCs, and sailboats). Any vessel over 12 feet in length with an outboard motor.
IllinoisAll powered vessels
Indiana All powered vessels
IowaAll powered vessels
KansasAll vessels powered by a motor
KentuckyAll mechanically powered vessels
LouisianaMotorized vessels/watercraft, including sailboats 12 feet or longer
MaineAll motorboats of any size, including airmobiles and personal watercraft
MarylandAll vessels powered by a motor
MassachusettsAll boats
MichiganAll recreational vehicles and watercraft must be registered
MinnesotaAll motorized watercraft 10ft and more
MississippiAny motorized vessel and sailboat
MissouriAll motorized vessels (including electric trolling motors)
MontanaAll sailboats that are 12 feet and longer and all motorboats
NebraskaAll vessels powered by any mechanical device
NevadaAll motorized vessels
New HampshireAll motorized vessels of any size
New JerseyMotorboats and personal watercraft
New MexicoAll motorized and sail-powered vessels 10 feet or longer
New YorkAll motor (electric or fuel-driven) vessels
North CarolinaAll motorized vessels
North DakotaAll motorized vessels
OhioEvery recreational boat
OklahomaAny vessel
OregonAny type of motorβ€”electric, gas, or diesel
PennsylvaniaAll motorboats
Rhode IslandAll motorized boats, including all other boats larger than 12′
South CarolinaAll motorized boats and watercraft
South DakotaBoats that are over 12 feet long and all motorboats of any length,
TennesseeAll mechanically powered vessels
TexasAll motorized vessels and non-motorized vessels (including sailboats) 14 feet or longer
UtahAll watercraft operated in Utah waters
VermontAny vessel propelled by a motor
VirginiaAll motorboats
WashingtonAll boats powered by a motor or sail
West VirginiaAll motorboats
WisconsinAll motorized vessels and sailboats greater than 12 feet in length
WyomingAll motors boats

πŸ“ Registration Process

The process of registering your electric boat is crucial for legal cooperation and peace of mind. Understanding the steps involved makes the process smoother:

Gathering Documentation

Collect all necessary paperwork, including proof of ownership, the bill of sale, the manufacturer’s statement of origin (MSO), and any associated fees.

Application Submission 

Fill out the registration application provided by the relevant boating authority. This usually involves providing information about your boat’s model, manufacturer, and propulsion system.

Possible Inspection

Depending on the region, an inspection might be required to verify the boat’s condition and conformity with safety standards.

Paying Fees

Registration involves fees that vary based on boat length and location. Before registration, get an idea of how much electric boats cost and their value.

Receiving Registration

Once approved, you’ll receive registration decals and a unique number for your boat. There are strict requirements relating to how the registration number is affixed to and displayed on the boat.

The rules are as follows:

  • The registration number must be painted on or affixed to the bow.
  • The number must read from left to right.
  • The numbers must be three-inch-high (at least) BLOCK letters
  • The numbers must be colored to contrast with the background.
  • A space or hyphen must separate letters and numbers: AR 524 ZW or AR-524-ZW.
  • The numbers must stand alone; no other numbers can be added to the boat’s bow.
  • Decals should be placed within six inches before or after the registration number.
  • Decals should be placed and in line with the registration number,

βž• Benefits of Registration

Apart from the fact that registration is a legal requirement in all states, real benefits are directed back at the boater.

The benefits of registering your electric boat go beyond adhering to legal requirements and extend into multiple aspects of your boating experience:

Legal Protection

Registering your boat provides legal protection by establishing your ownership. This can be especially important in situations of theft or disputes.

Having a clear record of ownership aids law enforcement agencies in addressing any issues that arise.

At the other end of the spectrum, being legal means never having to pay a fine for not operating a legally registered boat. 

Some states also require boaters to complete the educational courses offered before legally registering a boat. This increases safety awareness and professional boat handling, which, in turn, reduces the number of accidents.

Public Safety

Registration ensures that your electric boat meets specific safety standards and regulations. This contributes not only to your safety but also to that of fellow boaters and water users. 

During my boating journeys, I’ve observed that registered boats generally have the required safety equipment and follow safety guidelines, creating a more secure environment for everyone.

And since we are on the topic of safety, why not look into whether electric boats are safe before going to the trouble of registering?

Access to Facilities

Many marinas, docks, and public water bodies mandate registered boats for access. Registering your electric boat lets you enjoy these locations’ facilities, services, and amenities. 

Whether it’s docking, fueling stations, or other boating services, registration can significantly enhance your boating experience.

In my voyages across American waters and my explorations in Europe and Australia, I’ve come to understand the importance of navigating the regulatory waters when it comes to electric boat registration. 

Whether you’re gliding through the serene landscapes of American lakes, cruising the historic European rivers, or experiencing the stunning coastlines of Australia, complying with electric boat registration regulations ensures a seamless and enjoyable journey while respecting legal requirements and fostering a safe boating environment.

❓ Frequently Asked

How does insurance for electric boats compare to traditional boats?

Insurance for electric boats may vary based on factors like battery type, boat size, and usage. It’s essential to consult with insurance providers to understand coverage options and premiums specific to electric boats.

Are there any tax incentives or rebates available for registering electric boats?

Some regions may offer tax incentives or rebates for electric boats to promote eco-friendly transportation. Boat owners should check with local authorities or tax agencies to determine available benefits.

I’m the founder and chief editor here at Kite Ship. The electrification of boating is the most exciting thing to happen to the marine industry in a generation! Welcome, and I hope that we can provide the portal you need to dive into the world of electric propulsion and power.