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It's the Law


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

Registering Your Vessel


You must have a Michigan Certificate of Number (registration) and validation decals to operate your vessel legally on public waters in Michigan.

The only exceptions are:

  • Privately owned rowboats 16 feet or less in length
  • Privately owned non-motorized canoes or kayaks
  • Vessels registered in another state or country using Michigan waters for 60 days or less

All watercraft with a motor must be registered including electric and inflatable vessels.

The Certificate of Number and validation decals are obtained by submitting the proper application and fee to any Secretary of State branch office.

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

Michigan Registration Form
Sample registration card

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 as high above the water line as practical.
  • 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 the color of the background and be distinctly visible and legible.
  • Letters must be separated from the numbers by a space or hyphen: MC 3717 ZW or MC3717‑ZW.
  • No other numbers may be displayed on either side of the bow.
  • Decals must be affixed on each side of the vessel and placed three inches after the last character of the registration number.
Michigan Validation Decal

Where To Title and Register

The Certificate of Number and validation decals are obtained by submitting the proper application and fee to any Secretary of State branch office. You can find your closest branch office:

Where To Renew Your Certificate of Number

A Certificate of Number is valid for three years and may be renewed: