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It's the Law


All operators are required to obey laws that regulate your vessel’s registration and operation.

Registering Your Vessel


You must have a Georgia Certificate of Boat Registration and validation decals to operate your vessel legally on public waters in Georgia.

The only exceptions are:

  • Sailboats under 12 feet in length
  • Canoes, kayaks, rowboats, and rubber rafts that have no mechanical propulsion (i.e., boats that are paddled, poled, rowed, or windblown)
  • Vessels operated exclusively on private ponds or lakes
  • Vessels registered in other states and using Georgia waters for 60 days or less

The Certificate of Boat Registration and validation decals are obtained by submitting the proper application and fee to the Georgia Department of Natural Resources or DNR (see How To Apply For or Renew Your Vessel's Registration).

The certificate (pocket-sized plastic card) must be on board and available for inspection by an enforcement officer whenever the vessel is operated.

Georgia Certificate of Boat Registration

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 bow.
  • Number must read from left to right on both sides of the bow.
  • 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: GA 3717 ZW or GA-3717-ZW.
  • No other numbers may be displayed on either side of the bow.
  • Current validation decals must be displayed on each side of the bow, preceding the prefix letters of the registration 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.

Georgia Validation Decal