To operate your vessel in Hawaii, you must register your boat. All motorized vessels in Hawaii are required to be registered annually, with the following exceptions:
- Vessels that are documented with the U.S. Coast Guard or any other federal agency;
- Vessels that have been properly registered in another State and not operating on Hawaii’s State waters for more than 60 days;
- Vessels from another country and not operating on Hawaii’s State waters for more than 60 days;
- Vessels owned by the U.S Government;
- A vessel’s lifeboat used only for lifesaving purposes;
- Manually propelled vessels (e.g. canoes and kayaks);
- Vessels 8 feet in length or less propelled ONLY by sail;
- Motorboats used exclusively for racing;
- Vessels operating under a valid temporary certificate of number.
Once a vessel is registered the owner will receive a Certificate of Number that must be kept aboard the boat at all times and be readily available for inspection by a law enforcement officer.
The Certificate of Number and registration decals are obtained from the Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources, Division of Boating and Ocean Recreation.
The department must be notified within seven days if the owner changes address or if the vessel is sold, destroyed, or abandoned.
How to Display Registration Number and Decals
Every vessel that is required to be numbered must display decals issued by the department to identify the vessel as currently registered.
You must display your boat number and decals in the following manner:
- Painted on, attached to or otherwise permanently displayed on each side of the bow;
- Well above the waterline to be visible from a distance and easily read by any law enforcement officials;
- Using BLOCK letters at least three inches high and of one solid color contrasting with the color of your boat;
- To read from left to right; letters and numbers must be separated by a space or a hyphen, for example, HA 1234 AZ or HA-1234-AZ;
- The validation decal must be within three inches and in line with the registration letters and numbers;
- Expired registration stickers must be removed or covered with the new sticker.
Boats that are at least five net tons in size and owned by an American citizen may be registered with the U.S. Coast Guard. These boats are "documented". Documented boats do not need to be registered with the state. Commercial vessels holding a valid marine document may also be required to obtain an annual commercial decal.