Chapter 4: The Legal Requirements of Boating
Your Vessel’s Certificate of Number and Decals
Requirements for vessel registration vary from state to state.
In Nevada, you must have a Nevada Certificate of Number (registration)
and validation decals to operate a vessel legally on Nevada’s
public waters. The only exceptions are:
- Non-motorized vessels (sailboats without engines, canoes, kayaks,
- Vessels properly registered in another state and using Nevada
waters for 90 or fewer consecutive days
- Ship’s lifeboats
The Certificate of Number and validation decals are obtained by
submitting the proper application form and fee to:
Nevada Department of Wildlife
1100 Valley Road
Reno, NV 89512
Certificate of Number
The registration number and validation decals must be displayed
- Number must be painted, decaled, or otherwise affixed to the
forward half of each side of the vessel, placed to be clearly
- 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 its background.
- Letters must be separated from the numbers by a space or hyphen: NV 3717 ZW or NV-3717-ZW.
- Decals must be affixed on each side of the vessel toward the
stern of the registration number and within six inches of and in
line with the number.
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.
Other Facts About Titling and Registering
- All vessels that require registration must be titled also.
- A Certificate of Number is valid until December 31 of the
year it was issued. Owners of vessels that have been registered
previously will be sent a renewal notice to their residence.
- If you change your address or transfer your interest in a
registered vessel, or if the vessel is abandoned, destroyed,
or stolen, you must notify the Nevada Department of Wildlife
in writing within 10 days of the event.
- If you lose or destroy your Certificate of Number, decal,
or title, you must apply for a duplicate and submit a processing
- Larger recreational vessels owned by U.S. citizens may (at
the option of the owner) be documented by the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG).
about obtaining the U.S. Coast Guard’s Certificate of Documentation.)
Call the USCG at 1-800-799-8362 for more information.
Documented vessels also must obtain Nevada registration.
Hull Identification Number
- The Hull Identification Number (HIN) is a unique, 12-digit
number assigned by the manufacturer to vessels built after 1972.
- Hull Identification Numbers:
- Distinguish one vessel from another—the same
as serial numbers distinguish one car from another.
- Are engraved in the fiberglass or on a metal plate permanently
attached to the transom.
- You should write down your HIN and put it in a place separate
from your vessel in case warranty problems arise or your vessel
- If your vessel is homemade, the Department of Wildlife may
issue you a Hull Identification Number.
- It is illegal to destroy, remove, cover, or mutilate a Hull