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Boat Registrations

Tennessee law requires that all mechanically powered vessels (including federally documented recreational vessels) and all sailboats which are principally used in Tennessee must be registered. (Boats are not titled in Tennessee.) Mechanical propulsion includes electric trolling motors but does not include boats powered only by oars or paddles. Boats which require registration must be properly registered before using them upon any public water of Tennessee.

Currently registered boats from other states may use Tennessee waters unless Tennessee has become their state of principal use. Exception: Sailboats brought into Tennessee by persons from states that do not require numbering of sailboats are exempt from registration provided that Tennessee is not the state of principal use. State of principal use means the state on whose waters a vessel is used or to be used most, whether moored or underway, during a calendar year.

Hull Identification Number Corrections

The U.S. Coast Guard has mandated (33 C.F.R. § 181.25) that all registered vessels in the State of Tennessee provide a properly formatted Hull Identification Number (HIN) to TWRA.
The HIN is a 12 digit number generally located on the outside of the hull in the upper right corner of the boat’s transom.

A properly formatted HIN begins with 3 letters, followed by 5 characters (either number or letter), then one letter, then one number, and lastly, the last two digits of the year. EXAMPLE: ABC12345D313

Customers with an invalid HIN may renew their boats but only for the next three years. After the Coast Guard mandated deadline, our system will decline these renewals and any new owner applications.

It is imperative to correct these numbers in the system before that deadline.

Check your hull id now

Contact Us

Phone: 1-800-648-8798 or 615-781-6585 | E-mail:

Mailing Address
PO Box 41729
Nashville TN 37204

Registration Fees

Registration fees are determined by the length of the boat. The vessel may be registered for one, two or three years upon option by the owner. However, if an owner acquires another boat, there is no transfer of fees from one boat to another.

Size 1 Year 2 Years 3 Years
16 feet and under $13 $24 $35
Over 16 feet to less than 26 feet $25 $48 $71
26 feet to less than 40 feet $38 $72 $107
40 feet or more $51 $97 $142
Consignment (Manufacturers Only)
Same fees as lengths and years above.
Dealer/Manufacturer Certificate $32 $64 $95
Duplicate and Replacement Certificate - $6

How To Register Your Boat

Persons who wish to register a boat must complete a registration form, available through a County Clerk's office or from the dealer that sold you the boat.

Because documentation requirements vary from county to county, please call your County Clerk's office prior going there to ensure that you take the proper documentation in order to register your boat.

Initial Registration

The Tennessee Department of Revenue requires that boats which have never been registered before must show certification that their sales tax was paid when purchased. The owner needs to have the appropriate County Clerk's office or boat dealer stamp the application verifying that the tax was paid. The registration form is then mailed to or taken to the address shown on the form for processing.

Boats built after 1972 are required to have a Hull Identification Number (HIN).
Hull Identification Number Information

Registered Boats transferred from one individual to another

Follow the same process as described for previously unregistered boats above. If a dealer is not involved, the county court clerk's office will require a bill of sale from the individuals involved.

Renewing a registration that does not involve a change of ownership

Renewals can be done online. You may also renew instantly by going to any business that sells TWRA hunting and fishing licenses. You must have the boat registration TN number and it is very helpful to have your TWRA ID number with you. You will receive a temporary registration which will allow you to operate your boat until your new decals and registration card arrive by mail, in about 2 weeks.

Registration by Dealers or Manufacturers

Dealers or manufacturers may apply for registration which can be transferred from one vessel to another. A copy of the business license and sales tax number must accompany the application for a dealer or manufacturer number. Such vessels are to be used for demonstration purposes only and more than one vessel may not be operated simultaneously with the same number. In addition, vessels being demonstrated must have the Certificate of Number on board and the registration number must be correctly displayed. However, such vessels may display the number by having it attached to removable signs which can be temporarily but firmly attached to the vessel.

Numbering & Displaying Your Number & Decal

Persons making application for registration will receive from the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency a pocket-size certificate of number and decals showing the vessel number and expiration date. The pocket-size certificate (card) must be on board any time the vessel is in use.

The vessel's number must be painted on or permanently attached to each side of the forward half of the vessel (the bow), and no other number may be displayed there. Numbers are to read left to right, be in plain vertical block characters, be of a color contrasting with the background, be distinctly visible and legible, and be not less than 3 inches in height. The letters must be separated from the numbers by a dash (-) or by a space the size of one letter. The validation decal must be placed on each side of the bow immediately preceding or following the Tennessee identification number.

Documented Vessels

Vessels with a valid document issued by the United States Coast Guard shall not be required to display a certificate of number but shall display a current vessel validation decal issued by the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency. The decal shall be located on each side of the vessel on the windows located nearest the main operator station, or if not equipped with windows, the decal shall be placed in the immediate vicinity of the operator so that the decal is clearly visible to enforcement officers. Sailboats, in lieu of that location, may place the decal on the bottom of the main mast, on both the port and starboard sides.

Notification of Registration Changes

When a vessel numbered by Tennessee is lost, stolen and/or recovered, destroyed, abandoned or transferred to another person, the Certificate of Number issued for the vessel must be surrendered, together with written notification of its change in status, to the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency within 15 days from the event. If the change in status is transfer of ownership, the name and address of the new owner must be included in the notification.