Table of Contents

Download the PDF Version

It's the Law


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

Registering Your Motorboat


You must have a Massachusetts Certificate of Number (boat registration) to operate a motorboat legally on Massachusetts waters.

Exceptions to registration are:

  • Vessels without any kind of motor (unpowered canoes, sailboats, or kayaks)
  • Vessels properly registered in another state and using Massachusetts waters for 60 or fewer consecutive days
  • Vessels documented with the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG)

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

Massachusetts boat registration
Massachusetts boat registration

The registration number and validation decal must be displayed as follows.

  • Number must be painted, applied as a decal, or otherwise affixed on the forward half of each side of the vessel and placed to be clearly visible.
  • Number must read from left to right on both sides of the vessel.
  • Number must be in at least three-inch-high, bold, BLOCK letters.
  • Number’s color must contrast sharply with its background.
  • No other numbers may be displayed on either side of the bow.
  • Letters must be separated from the numbers by two-inch spaces or hyphens: MS 3717 ZW or MS-3717-ZW.
  • The validation decal must be affixed within six inches following the registration number on the port (left) side of the vessel.

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.

Massachusetts Validation Decal

Where to Register

You can submit your registration or title applications and fees to:

Registration Questions?

Contact the Registration and Titling Bureau by calling 617-626-1610 or sending a fax to 617-626-1630. You also may find the answers to registration questions on the Internet by visiting www.mass.gov/ole*.

*If your registration has been expired for 48 months or longer, you will not be able to renew online.