It's the Law: Before Going Out
All vessel operators are required to obey laws
that regulate the vessel's registration and operation.
NOTE: Arkansas Code (law) defines motorboat to be any vessel operated upon water that is propelled by sail or machinery, whether or not the machinery is the principal source of propulsion.
Registering a Motorboat
You must have an Arkansas Certificate of Number (registration) and validation decals to operate a motorboat on Arkansas public waters. The only exceptions are:
- Vessels that are not propelled by an engine or by sail
- Vessels properly registered in another state and using Arkansas waters for 90 or fewer consecutive days
- Vessels documented by the U.S. Coast Guard
The Certificate of Number (pocket-sized registration card) must be on board and available for inspection by an enforcement officer whenever the motorboat is operated.
The registration number and validation decals must be displayed as follows.
- Number must be painted, applied as a decal, or otherwise affixed to the forward half of each side of the motorboat and placed to be clearly visible.
- Number must read from left to right on both sides of the motorboat.
- Number must be in at least three-inch-high, bold, BLOCK letters.
- Number's color must contrast with its background.
- Letters must be separated from the numbers by a space or hyphen: AR 3717 ZW,
AR 999 AZZ, or AR-999-AZZ.
- No other numbers may be displayed on either side of the bow.
- Decals must be affixed on each side of the motorboat, toward the stern of the registration number, and three inches from and in line with the number.
If your motorboat requires registration, it is illegal to operate it or allow others to operate your motorboat unless it is registered and numbered as described above.
How To Apply for Registration
Requests for registration require a completed application along with all of the other documentation shown below and the proper fee.
- Proof of ownership—current registration or bill of sale
- Proof of personal property assessment and proof of current paid taxes
- Proof of insurance
Note: Homemade vessels without a Hull Identification Number (see next page) applying for new registration must be inspected first.
Fees To Register Your Motorboat
|Registration of Motorboat (original or renewal)
Motorboat less than 16 ft. long
Motorboat 16 ft. to less than 26 ft. long
Motorboat 26 ft. to less than 40 ft. long
Motorboat 40 ft. long or longer
Other Facts About Registration
- The owner of a motorboat that requires registration must apply for the registration within 30 days of the date of purchase. The motorboat may be operated during this period if the owner has on board a dated proof of purchase.
- A Certificate of Number is valid for three years.
- If an outboard engine is purchased for a previously registered motorboat, the serial number of the engine must be provided to the Department of Finance and Administration (DFA).
- If ownership of a registered motorboat changes, the new owner must apply to the DFA for transfer of the registration within 30 days of the ownership change.
- If a registered motorboat is abandoned or destroyed, the owner must notify the DFA within 15 days of the event and the Certificate of Number will be terminated.
- If you lose or destroy your registration card or decals, you must apply for a duplicate and submit a processing fee.
- Larger recreational vessels owned by U.S. citizens may (at the option of the owner) be documented by the U.S. Coast Guard. Call the USCG at 1-800-799-8362 for more information. Note: Documentation through the USCG does not relieve the owner of his or her responsibility to assess the motorboat for personal property taxes.
Liability Insurance Requirement
- All personal watercraft and all motorboats powered by engines of more than 50 horsepower must be covered by a liability insurance policy.
- The policy must be issued by an insurance company authorized to do business in Arkansas.
- The policy must provide at least $50,000 of liability coverage per occurrence.
- It is illegal for the owner of such a vessel to operate it, or allow others to operate it, unless the vessel has the required insurance.
- The insurance requirement does not apply to vessels properly registered in another state.
- Proof of insurance must be carried on board the vessel and be available for inspection by an enforcement officer.
- Registration applications for vessels requiring liability insurance must be accompanied by proof of the insurance policy.