Watercraft Registration Information & FAQs
What Registration Means
Registration means that a motorized boat can be used. Without it, it cannot legally be put on the water. An owner registering a boat for the first time in Arizona is always issued three things:
- A certificate of number (ownership document)
- An AZ Number
- A set of decals
Download the required registration application and other forms, at rules & regulations
Certificate of Number
This document shows that a motorized watercraft has been registered in the name of the owner. The certificate must be on the watercraft any time it is in use (underway, moored or anchored) on the waters of Arizona (whether the waters are public or private). In effect, a motorized watercraft cannot be used if it is not registered.
The AZ number is a set of numbers prefixed by the letters “AZ”, which the owner must paint or otherwise affix to the forward half of the boat on each side. In concept, they are like having license plates on your car. A motorized boat cannot be used without displaying the AZ numbers unless it is a new boat with a temporary registration issued by a watercraft dealer.
Two decals are issued when the boat is first registered and annually thereafter, when the registration is renewed. The owner must affix these to both sides of the boat in front of the AZ numbers. They prove that the boat is currently registered. See the example below for correct location:
Fees support boating programs in Arizona such as marine law enforcement, education and safety programs, and facilities. Following are the categories under which a boat may be registered, and the fees to be charged under those categories.
0 to 12 ft.
12 ft. 1 in to 16 ft.
16 ft. 1 in to 20 ft.
20 ft. 1 in to 26 ft.
26 ft. 1 in to 39 ft.
39 ft. 1 in to 64 ft.
64 ft. 1 in and over
When an Arizona registered boat is transferred to a new owner, the fee is $13. If the boat is not currently registered, the new owner must pay for the renewal of the watercraft. The penalty fee does not apply. Please call the Department before mailing in your transfer of ownership to verify the correct fees.
Duplicate Decal $8
Duplicate Certificate $8
The penalty fee applies to renewals only. Applications for renewal of registration made after the expiration date are subject to a penalty fee of $5. Exceptions are:
- If more than 12 months have lapsed since the expiration date of the last registration or renewal.
- If the expiration date fell on a weekend or state holiday, and the registration is renewed before the close of business on the next working day.
- If the renewal was mailed before the expiration date, as evidenced by the postmark.
Which boats must be registered?
All motorboats must be registered in Arizona regardless of their size, construction, or type and size of motor. This includes, for example, inflatable rafts, sailboats and canoes with motors (including electric motors). Exceptions to the registration requirement include watercraft used solely as lifeboats and those documented by the U. S. Coast Guard.
I just bought a boat. What do I do?
If the boat is new, you need four things:
- A completed application (provided by the Game and Fish Department) for Arizona watercraft certificate of number;
- A bill of sale with the name of buyer and seller, hull ID number, length, manufacturer, purchase price and sales tax paid;
- Manufacturer’s statement of origin; and
- Proper registration fees.
If the boat is used and previously registered in Arizona you will need the following:
- A registration signed off by the previous owner(s), releasing ownership on the back of the certificate.
- A bill of sale with the name of buyer and seller, signature of seller, hull ID number, length, manufacturer, and purchase price. A bill of sale showing sales tax paid is required in addition to the registration if the boat was purchased from a watercraft dealer.
- A completed application form 1532 provided by the Department.
- Proper registration fees, and transfer fee.
- No penalty fee will apply.
If the boat is used and previously registered or titled in another state, you will need the following:
- Original title (if coming from a title state) or original registration (if coming from a registration state), which is signed off by the previous owner(s).
- If purchased by a watercraft dealer, bill of sale signed by an authorized representative showing sales tax paid in addition to the title or registration.
- A completed application form.
- Proper registration fees.
Note: Please call the Department for any transaction not covered in this section and to verify the correct fees.
When transferring ownership, how many signatures are required to release ownership?
There are three joint ownership designations.
- AND/OR The use of “and/or” requires the signatures of both parties if both are living. Upon legal proof of the death of either party, the Department shall transfer registration upon the signature of the living party.
- AND The use of “and” requires the signatures of both parties. In the event of the death of either party, the interest of the deceased party shall be handled through probate proceedings.
- OR The use of “or” shall express to the Department the intent that either of the owners have full authority to transfer registration of the watercraft.
This is the first time I renewed my watercraft. Why did my expiration month change?
All new watercraft registrations issued are valid for 12 months. The second year of registration will be for 7-18 months (fees are pro-rated appropriately) to fit into the “staggered registration system” wherein the expiration date is determined by the last two digits of the “AZ” number.
How long do transactions take when they are processed through the mail?
Transactions through the mail may take up to 30 days. For your convenience, renewal notices are sent six weeks prior to the expiration. The registered owner can then achieve renewal through the mail by promptly sending the renewal and proper fees to the Watercraft Registration Section, which in turn will mail the owner the certificate and decals. If you prefer, registered owners can also complete registration by coming to a Department office.
I live in another state and would like to use my boat on Arizona waters. What are your requirements?
Nonresident watercraft may operate in Arizona for a period of 90 days without Arizona registration, provided it is in compliance with the numbering system of the U.S. Coast Guard or their home state. If the watercraft continues to operate on Arizona waters, it must be registered with the Department before the 90-day period ends.
What is a hull identification number?
A hull identification number (or HIN) means a number assigned to specific watercraft by the manufacturer or by a government jurisdiction as prescribed by the U.S. Coast Guard. It is similar to a car’s vehicle identification number. All watercraft manufactured after August 1972 are required by federal law to have a 12-digit HIN. Your watercraft will require inspection if it is homemade or newer than the 1972 and does not have a conforming HIN.
How do I place my AZ number and decals on my watercraft?
The AZ number shall be painted on or attached to each side of the forward half of your watercraft. It shall read from left to right, be in block letters not less than three inches high, and be of a color that contrasts with the color of the hull. It shall be the only number on the forward half of your boat and should be clearly visible from 100 feet away during daylight hours. The letters AZ and the suffix shall be separated from the numerals by a hyphen or equivalent space.
The decals shall be affixed 3 inches in front of the AZ on both sides of the forward half of the watercraft. See the example below.