The Boater's Guide of New Hampshire | A Handbook of Boating Laws and Responsibilities
The Official Boating Handbook of the New Hampshire Marine Patrol
Table of Contents
Registering Your Vessel
You must have a New Hampshire Certificate of Registration and validation decals to operate your vessel legally on public waters in New Hampshire. This includes motorboats of any size (including those with electric motors) and sailboats or sailboards 12 feet in length or longer. The only exceptions are:
- Sailboats and sailboards under 12 feet in length
- Other small, non-motorized vessels such as canoes and kayaks
- Vessels registered in other states using New Hampshire waters for 30 or fewer consecutive days
- Vessels owned or operated by the U.S. government
The Certificate of Registration must be on board and available for inspection by an enforcement officer whenever the vessel 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 both sides of the forward half of the vessel such that it is clearly readable.
- Number must read from left to right on both sides of the vessel.
- Number must be in at least three-inch-high BLOCK letters.
- Number’s color must contrast with the hull background.
- Letters must be separated from the numbers by a hyphen or a space: NH-3717-ZW or NH 3717 ZW.
- Decals must be placed on both sides of the bow within six inches of and to the right of the number.
Sailboats that are at least 12 feet long but less than 20 feet in length need to display the validation decals only (not the number) within two feet of the extreme forward part of the bow.
If your vessel requires registration, it is illegal to operate it or allow others to operate your vessel unless it is registered and numbered as described above.