Boats on Lake Lanier must be properly licensed. ~~ Photograph by Robert Sutherland
Boats on Lake Lanier must be properly licensed. ~~ Photograph by Robert Sutherland

All boats must have a Georgia Certificate of Boat Registration and a validation decal to legally operate on Georgia public waters.

The only exceptions include:

  • Sailboats under 12 feet in length
  • Canoes, kayaks, rowboats, and rubber rafts that have no mechanical propulsion
  • Boats operated exclusively on private ponds or lakes

Your registration card must be onboard and available for inspection by an enforcement officer whenever the boat is in operation. The registration number and decal should be displayed as follows:

  • Number must be painted, decaled 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 3″-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
  • Decals must be displayed on each side of the bow, before the prefix letters of the registration number

Other Facts About Boat Registration

If you change your address, you must notify the DNR Boat Registration Office by mail or phone

If you abandon or destroy your boat, you must report it to the DNR Boat Registration Office within 15 days and surrender your Certificate of Boat Registration.

If you lose or destroy your Certificate of Boat Registration, you must apply for a duplicate certificate by submitting a registration application form and a $1.00 fee. Check the “duplicate” box on the form.

Boats bearing valid registration from another state need not be registered in Georgia unless they are used in Georgia for more than 60 consecutive days.

A recreational boat, owned by a U. S. citizen, may (at the option of the owner) apply for a U. S. Coast Guard’s “Certificate of Documentation” if it weighs 5 or more net tons. Call the USCG’s Documentation Center at 1-800-799-8362 for more information.

How to Apply for Boat Registration

Applications can be obtained from any office of the Wildlife Resources Division of the Department of Natural Resources, or from most marinas, hardware stores, sporting goods stores, or marine dealers. Temporary certificates are on the registration form, allowing you to legally operate your watercraft until receivement of the permanent certificate and decal.

Certificates are valid for three years and expire on the last day of the owner’s birth month. Renewal forms are mailed to the boat owner at least 30 days prior to expiration.

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