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If you own a boat and live in New Hampshire (or you primarily use it in New Hampshire), you must register your vessel with the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). The state requires any boat that is used on the public waters of New Hampshire must be registered. The term “public waters” includes all inland waters, like lakes, rivers, and ponds, plus tidal and coastal waters which is the ocean near shore. Every boat registration must be renewed on December 31st of each year.

If your boat is registered in another state, then you do not have to register it in New Hampshire as long as you don’t use it in the state for more than 30 days. Otherwise,  you’ll have to register as an out of state owner.

New Hampshire requires all motorized boats to be registered, regardless of size. All sailboats and sailboards 12 feet and longer must also register. Small, non-motorized boats like canoes and kayaks are exempt. If your boat is registered in another state, you can use it in New Hampshire for 30 days.

Check out our national database for a list of boat registration requirements for every state.

Boats That Must Be Registered in New Hampshire

In New Hampshire, you are required to have a valid Registration Certificate and a current decal to operate your boat on public waters. If you have a motorboat of any size or a sailboat that is 12 feet or longer, you must register your boat. The only exceptions are:

  1. Sailboats and sailboards less than 12 feet
  2. Small, non-motorized vessels such as canoes and kayaks
  3. Boats registered in other states provided you operate it in New Hampshire for 30 days or less
  4. Vessels owned or operated by the U.S. government

How to Register a Boat in New Hampshire

Required Information

If you’re looking to register your boat in New Hampshire, you’ll need to collect the required documents. New Hampshire requires the following information to register a boat.

  1. A completed application
  2. Proof of ownership
  3. Required fees
  4. Verification of vessel identification (if your boat doesn’t have a Hull Number)

Fees to Register Your Boat

New Hampshire charges boat owners several fees to register their vessel.

Boat LengthFee
Up to and including 16 feet$24
16.1 feet to 21 feet$34
21.1 feet to 30 feet$52
30.1 feet to 45 feet$72
45.1 feet and over$92

Other Fees

  • $9.50 for each registration – paid into the lake restoration and preservation fund
  • $1 for each registration – paid into the fish and game search and rescue fund
  • $5 for each registration processed by an authorized agent
  • $5 for each registration – paid into the statewide public boat access fund
  • $2 for each registration for tidal or coastal waters.

Proof of Ownership

You must provide proof to the State of New Hampshire that you own the boat you’re registering. The DMV requires both a Bill of Sale and a Driver’s License. A Bill of Sale for your boat is more than just a receipt of payment. It must be compliant with the DMV’s requirements – which are lengthy and very specific.

The Bill of Sale must include all of the following information:

  1. Bow number
  2. Year built
  3. Make
  4. Color
  5. Length from the bow to the stern
  6. Primary state where the boat is used
  7. Hull material of construction
  8. Propulsion (outboard, inboard, electric or sail)
  9. Fuel
  10. Hull identification number
  11. Single or twin engines
  12. Inland water or tidal water use
  13. Maximum occupants
  14. Does vessel have toilet, sink or shower
  15. Total horsepower
  16. Owner’s name, address and date of birth
  17. Primary use
  18. Signature of owner, or if a company, signature and title of authorized agent.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does NH Require Boat Insurance to Register a Boat?

New Hampshire does not have a requirement for boat owners to insure their boats as part of the registration process. Surprisingly, only two states require boat insurance, even though all 50 states require motorist to have automobile insurance.

Just because you aren’t required to have insurance, doesn’t mean you don’t need it. Like your home, a boat is a major investment, and you should have some type of protection for it. Depending on the type of boat you have and the level of coverage you get, boating insurance isn’t very expensive – especially given how expensive a boating accident can be. We have a comprehensive article about boating insurance.

Where to Register Your Boat?

If your boat is used recreationally, you have the option of registering it in person at some DMV locations or through the mail. Here is a list of DMV offices that process boat registrations.

If you prefer to use the mail, send all of the required information and fees to the Concord DMV.

NH Dept. of Safety
DMV – Boat Registrations
23 Hazen Drive
Concord, NH 03305

Bow Number

Once you register your boat, you will be given a Registration Certificate, a bow number, and a decal. You must keep the certificate on the boat whenever you use it. You also have to display the bow number and current registration decal on your boat. The bow number never changes. The state will issue you a new decal every year when you renew your license.

Registration Renewal

All boat registrations must be renewed on December 31st of each year. You should receive a renewal notice in the mail from the DMV. To renew your boat registration, simply complete the form and return it with the required fee. You can also renew your registration at any DMV office or an authorized agent or certified marina.

Hull Identification Numbers

The Hull Identification Number is a unique 12-digit number assigned to boats built after 1973. This number is required to register your boat in New Hampshire. If your boat was built prior to 1973 or is a homemade vessel, you’ll have to obtain a Verification of Vessel Identification from a New Hampshire law enforcement agency.

Useful Links and Resources to Help You Register Your Boat

New Hampshire DMV Boat Registration Page – This is the home page for the State Agency in charge of boat registration

Boat Registration Form

DMV Offices – Find DMV locations that can process your boat registration application

Authorized Boat Agents – These are private companies that can process your registration

List of Vessels Exempt from Registration – Check to see if your boat is exempt from registration requirements

Verification of Vessel Identification (If you built your own boat or it doesn’t have Hull Identification Number)

Registration Fees – List of all vessel types and the applicable registration fees

Boat Fees – This is a comprehensive list of all fees that you might have to pay in addition to the registration fees

Request a Copy of Registration – If you want another copy of your registration besides the one you have to keep on your boat

Verification of Vessel Identification – Form for local law enforcement to verify your boat’s Hull Identification Number

Replacement Boat Decal – If you need another renewal decal, this form is what you need

New Hampshire Marine Patrol – This is the agency in charge of enforcing all boating laws and regulations for the State of New Hampshire

New Hampshire Fish and Game – Issue fishing licenses and a great source of useful information

New Hampshire Port Authority – The agency responsible for managing all points of access for the state’s waterways

John Allen

With more than a decade of experience cruising the lakes in my Crestliner Grand Cayman pontoon boat and my Boston Whaler, I now want to share everything I've learned with my community here at Boating Hub.