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 Tennessee Certificate of Number (registration card) and validation decals to operate your vessel legally on public waters in Tennessee.

The only exceptions are:

  • Vessels propelled only by paddles or oars
  • Vessels registered in other states and using Tennessee waters for 60 days or less

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

Tennessee Certificate of Number
Tennessee Certificate of Number

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 where no other number may be displayed.
  • Number must read from left to right on both sides of the bow.
  • Number must be in at least three-inch-high, plain, vertical BLOCK letters.
  • Number's color must contrast with its background.
  • Letters must be separated from the numbers by a space or hyphen: TN-3717-ZW or TN 3717 ZW.
  • Decals may be placed to the left or right of the registration number on both sides of the bow.
Tennessee Validation Decal

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.