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Boat Registration

In anticipation of the warm summer months, many people at this time buy, sell or trade boats, and two of the most frequently asked questions new boat owners have for the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency is, “Do I have to register my boat?” and “how do I do it?”

    Tennessee law requires that all mechanically powered vessels (including documented vessels) and all sailboats that are principally used in Tennessee must be registered by the TWRA.  Mechanical propulsion includes electronic trolling motors and gas or diesel powered motors, but does not include boats powered by oars or paddles.  Boats that require registration must be properly registered before using them on any public waters of Tennessee.

    Applications for Boat Certificate of Number (boat registration application) can be obtained from boat dealers, county clerks, and TWRA offices.  If a boat is purchased from an individual other than a dealer, the County Court Clerk must complete the County Court Clerk’s Certification on the application.  Boats that have never been registered before must show certification that their sales tax was paid when purchased.  After completing the application, it should be mailed to the Boating Section of the TWRA in Nashville.

    Boat owners may now renew their boat registrations over the counter at TWRA license agents and at all regional offices.

    Boat registration fees are based on the length of the boat.  The vessel may be registered for one, two, or three years.  After making application for registration, you will receive a pocket-sized certificate of numbers and decals showing the vessel number and expiration date.  The pocket-sized card must be on board any time the vessel is in use.  It is the responsibility of the boat owner to paint on or permanently attach the registration numbers to the forward half of the boat.

    If the vessel is lost, stolen, and/or recovered, destroyed, abandoned, or transferred to another person, the Certificate of Number issued for the vessel must be surrendered, together with written notification of its change in status, to the TWRA within 15 days of the event.  If the change in status is transfer of ownership, the name and address of the new owner must be included in the notification.


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