How Do I Register A Boat In Wisconsin?

Are you eager to take your boat out on the open waters of Wisconsin but unsure how to get it registered? Look no further! This article will provide you with a step-by-step guide on how to register your boat in Wisconsin, ensuring that you have all the necessary documentation and information to sail smoothly through the registration process. Whether you’re a Wisconsin resident or just visiting, this article has got you covered. So, let’s set sail and get your boat officially registered in the beautiful state of Wisconsin!

Documents Required

To register a boat in Wisconsin, you will need to gather several important documents. These include the ownership documents, the manufacturer’s certificate of origin, a bill of sale, proof of sales tax payment, and the completed application form. These documents are essential for the registration process and must be provided to the relevant authorities.

The ownership documents serve as proof that you are the legal owner of the boat. These may include a previous boat title or a certificate of origin if the boat is new. The manufacturer’s certificate of origin indicates that the boat was built and sold by a legitimate manufacturer. The bill of sale is a legal document that confirms the transfer of ownership from the previous owner to you. Lastly, you will need to provide proof of sales tax payment, which ensures that the appropriate taxes have been paid on the boat.

Make sure to carefully fill out the application form with accurate and complete information. This form is available on the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) website and can be downloaded or completed online.

Boat Registration

Once you have gathered all the necessary documents, it’s time to register your boat in Wisconsin. The state has different registration requirements depending on whether you choose to register in-person, online, or by mail. Additionally, if your boat is registered in another state but will be used in Wisconsin, there are specific guidelines for out-of-state registration.

Wisconsin Boat Registration Requirements

To register a boat in Wisconsin, it must meet certain requirements. The boat must be at least 14 feet in length and be intended for use in water. Non-motorized boats, such as canoes and kayaks, are exempt from registration. You must also be a resident of Wisconsin or have established a primary residence in the state.

In-Person Registration

To register your boat in-person, visit your local Wisconsin DNR service center or one of the authorized registration agents. Bring all the required documents along with you. The staff will assist you with the registration process, answer any questions you may have, and provide you with the necessary registration materials.

Online Registration

Online registration is a convenient option for registering your boat in Wisconsin. Visit the Wisconsin DNR website and navigate to the boat registration section. Follow the instructions provided to complete the online registration process. You will be required to upload digital copies of the required documents and pay the registration fee online.

Mail-In Registration

If you prefer to register your boat by mail, you can do so by sending the completed application form and all the necessary documents to the Wisconsin DNR. Make sure to include a check or money order for the registration fee, made payable to the Wisconsin DNR. The address for mail-in registration can be found on the Wisconsin DNR website.

Out-of-State Registration

If your boat is registered in another state but will be used in Wisconsin for more than 60 consecutive days, you must register it in Wisconsin. Follow the appropriate registration method based on your circumstances, whether it be in-person, online, or by mail. Provide all the required documents and pay the registration fee to complete the out-of-state registration process.

How Do I Register A Boat In Wisconsin?

Registration Fees

Registering your boat in Wisconsin requires the payment of various fees. These fees contribute to the maintenance and conservation efforts of the state’s waterways. It’s important to be aware of the different types of fees associated with boat registration.

Boat Registration Fees

The boat registration fees in Wisconsin vary depending on the length of the boat and whether you are a resident or nonresident. For residents, the fee ranges from $25 to $250, while for nonresidents, it ranges from $50 to $500. The fee schedule can be found on the Wisconsin DNR website or obtained from the registration agents.

Duplicate Registration Fees

If you need a duplicate registration card or decals, there is a fee of $4. If you require a duplicate certificate of title, the fee is $5. Make sure to notify the Wisconsin DNR if you lost any of these documents to obtain the duplicates.

Transfer of Ownership Fees

Transferring the ownership of a registered boat in Wisconsin incurs a fee of $5. This fee applies when the boat is sold, donated, or passed on to a new owner. It is important to follow the proper procedures outlined by the Wisconsin DNR when transferring ownership to ensure a smooth and legal transition.

Late Fees

Failure to register your boat within 60 days of purchase or within 75 days of becoming a resident of Wisconsin may result in late fees. Late fees start at $10 and increase incrementally for each month of non-registration, up to a maximum of $30. To avoid these late fees, make sure to register your boat promptly.

Numbering and Decals

After successfully registering your boat in Wisconsin, you will receive registration numbers and decals. It is crucial to properly display these numbers and decals on your boat to comply with state regulations.

Displaying Registration Numbers and Decals

Wisconsin law requires that the registration numbers and decals be displayed on the hull of the boat. The numbers must be positioned on each side of the bow, read from left to right. The decals should be affixed to each side of the boat, in a visible location.

Numbering Guidelines

When displaying the registration numbers, they must be at least three inches in height and of a color that contrasts with the background. The numbers should also be permanently affixed to the boat, such as through painting or attachment with adhesive stickers. It is important to ensure that the numbers are clear and readable, as they serve as identification for your boat.

Decal Placement

The registration decals should be placed in close proximity to the registration numbers, on each side of the boat. They should be visible and not obstructed by any equipment or other items. Adhere the decals securely to prevent them from fading or peeling off.

How Do I Register A Boat In Wisconsin?

Specialty Boat Registration

Wisconsin offers specialty boat registration for certain types of boats or boat owners. These registrations have specific requirements and are tailored to unique circumstances.

Tribal Watercraft

If you own a watercraft primarily used for exercising a treaty right within a Wisconsin ceded territory, you may be eligible for tribal watercraft registration. This registration is available to tribal members and allows them to operate their watercraft within the ceded territories without the need for a Wisconsin registration.

Nonresident Watercraft

Nonresidents who bring their boats to Wisconsin for a temporary period can obtain a nonresident watercraft registration. This registration is valid for 60 consecutive days and allows nonresidents to legally operate their boats in Wisconsin waters.

Boat Dealers and Manufacturers

Boat dealers and manufacturers in Wisconsin must register their boats differently than individual boat owners. They follow specific guidelines set by the Wisconsin DNR to register and display their boats for sale. If you are a boat dealer or manufacturer, make sure to familiarize yourself with these guidelines and provide the necessary documentation to obtain the appropriate registration.

Rental or Leasing Fleets

If you operate a rental or leasing fleet of boats in Wisconsin, you must comply with the state’s registration requirements. Each boat in the fleet must be registered individually, and the appropriate fees must be paid. Make sure to keep accurate records of your fleet’s registrations and ensure that the boats are properly marked with the required registration numbers and decals.

Additional Information

Aside from the boat registration process itself, there are additional aspects to consider when owning and operating a boat in Wisconsin.

Renewing Boat Registration

Boat registration in Wisconsin is valid for three years. To renew your boat registration, you will receive a renewal notice from the Wisconsin DNR prior to the expiration date of your current registration. Follow the instructions provided in the notice to renew your registration online, by mail, or in-person.

Replacing Lost or Damaged Registration

If you lose or damage your boat registration documents, such as the registration card, decals, or certificate of title, you can obtain replacements from the Wisconsin DNR. Visit the Wisconsin DNR website or contact them directly for instructions on how to obtain the necessary duplicates and the associated fees.

Selling a Registered Boat

When selling a registered boat in Wisconsin, both the seller and the buyer have certain responsibilities. The seller must provide the buyer with a signed and properly transferred certificate of title. The buyer must then complete the necessary registration process to transfer the boat’s ownership. It is crucial to follow the proper procedures to ensure a legal and smooth transaction.

Transferring Boat Registration

If you purchase a registered boat from another individual in Wisconsin, you will need to transfer the boat’s registration to your name. This process involves completing the necessary forms and paying the transfer of ownership fee. Make sure to contact the Wisconsin DNR or visit their website for detailed instructions on how to transfer boat registration.

How Do I Register A Boat In Wisconsin?

Boating Safety Education

Boating safety education is an essential aspect of responsible boating in Wisconsin. The state offers boating safety courses to educate boat operators on safe navigation, rules and regulations, and emergency procedures.

Boating Safety Courses

Wisconsin strongly encourages boaters to take a certified boating safety course. These courses cover various topics, including navigation rules, equipment requirements, and safe boating practices. Completing a boating safety course can improve your knowledge and skills, making you a safer and more confident boat operator.

Boat Operators Born After 1989

Boat operators born on or after January 1, 1989, are required to possess a boating safety education certificate in Wisconsin. This certificate can be obtained by completing an approved boating safety course and passing the required exam. Make sure to comply with this regulation if you were born after 1989 to avoid any legal complications while operating a boat.

Certificate of Boating Safety Education

Obtaining a certificate of boating safety education in Wisconsin is a simple process. You can enroll in an approved classroom course or take an online course offered by the BoatUS Foundation or other recognized organizations. After completing the course and passing the exam, you will receive a certificate of completion, which serves as proof of your boating safety education.

Boat Titling

Boat titling is an additional requirement for boat ownership in Wisconsin. While registration establishes your right to operate the boat, titling provides proof of ownership.

Titling Requirements

In Wisconsin, boats that are model year 1973 or newer and are over 16 feet in length must be titled. Titling is not required for non-motorized boats, such as canoes or kayaks. When seeking boat titling, make sure to meet the requirements set by the Wisconsin DNR to avoid any complications.

Applying for a Boat Title

To apply for a boat title in Wisconsin, you must submit a completed application form, the required supporting documents, and the appropriate fee to the Wisconsin DNR. The supporting documents may include the previous boat title or manufacturer’s certificate of origin, the bill of sale, and other relevant ownership documentation. Check the Wisconsin DNR website for the complete list of requirements.

Boat Title Transfer

If you are selling or purchasing a titled boat in Wisconsin, the transfer of the boat title is necessary to establish the legal ownership. The seller must complete and sign the appropriate sections on the boat title, providing all required information. The buyer must then submit the completed title, along with other necessary documents and the transfer fee, to the Wisconsin DNR to complete the title transfer process.

Boating Laws and Regulations

Understanding and following boating laws and regulations is vital to ensure a safe and enjoyable boating experience in Wisconsin.

Navigation and Operation Rules

Wisconsin has specific rules and regulations for boating navigation and operation. These rules include speed limits, right-of-way guidelines, and equipment requirements. It is crucial to familiarize yourself with these rules to safely operate your boat and avoid any legal issues.

Boating Under the Influence (BUI)

Boating under the influence (BUI) is a serious offense in Wisconsin. The state has strict laws regarding alcohol and drug consumption while operating a boat. It is illegal to operate a boat with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08% or higher. Violators can face severe penalties, including fines, imprisonment, and suspension of boating privileges.

Boating Accidents and Reporting

In the event of a boating accident in Wisconsin, it is important to follow certain reporting requirements. If a boating accident results in death, injury requiring medical treatment beyond first aid, disappearance of a person, or property damage exceeding a certain amount, it must be reported to the Wisconsin DNR within a specific timeframe. Familiarize yourself with the reporting requirements to comply with the law in case of an accident.

Boating Equipment Requirements

Wisconsin has specific equipment requirements for boats. These requirements include carrying life jackets for every person on board, having a throwable flotation device, displaying navigation lights, and having a sound-producing device. Make sure your boat is equipped with the necessary safety equipment to prevent accidents and comply with state regulations.

Contact Information

If you have any questions or need further assistance regarding boat registration in Wisconsin, the state provides various contact options.

Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources

For general information and inquiries related to boat registration, visit the Wisconsin DNR website at The website provides comprehensive information on boat registration requirements, fees, forms, and contact details.

County Register of Deeds

For specific inquiries regarding boat titling, you can contact your county’s register of deeds office. They can provide guidance on the titling process and any county-specific requirements.

Boat Registration Agents

Wisconsin has authorized registration agents located throughout the state. These agents provide in-person assistance with boat registration and other related services. For a list of authorized agents and their contact information, visit the Wisconsin DNR website.

In conclusion, registering a boat in Wisconsin involves gathering the necessary documents, understanding the registration requirements, paying the appropriate fees, properly displaying registration numbers and decals, and complying with the state’s laws and regulations. By following the guidelines outlined by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, you can ensure a smooth and legal boat registration process. Remember to prioritize boating safety, educate yourself with boating safety courses, and be aware of the contact information for any inquiries or assistance you may need along the way. Enjoy your boating adventures in the beautiful waters of Wisconsin!

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Written by saltyboatingADM

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