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California boat registration numbers & stickers

Registration decal number

California boat registration number placement

  • On the forward part of your vessel well above the waterline
  • On both sides of the bow 
  • Numbers must be painted or applied as a decal, where law enforcement officials can read it.
  • Letters and numbers are BLOCK style of at least 3 inches in height and must contrast in color with the hull. 
  • Letters and numbers are to read from left to right and have a space (CF 4252 AF) or hyphen (CF-3534-AF) to separate letters and numbers.   
  • Registration decals show the expiry date and must be displayed within 3 inches of the registration number on each side of the watercraft, toward the stern and in line with the numbers.
  • You must display only current registration decals and remove any expired ones.
  • The decals are valid for 2 years. 

Display registration number & validation decals

Documented boats

You may document larger vessels which meet Coast Guard guidelines. Documentation is a form of national registration and is useful for boats taken into international waters or other countries. Call USCG at 1-800-799-8362 for more information.

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