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West Virginia Boat Registration

Registration West Virginia

To operate any vessel with a motor (whether or not the motor is the primary source of propulsion) on West Virginia waters it must be titled, registered and display valid registration decals. Boat registrations are valid for three years and expire on March 31.

Vessels exempt from registration:

  • Non-motorized vessels such as canoes, kayaks and rowboats
  • Vessels that are properly registered in another state and are using West Virginia waters for a maximum of 60 days
  • Public vessels of the United States, West Virginia, or its municipalities.

Registration applications must be made at the Division of Motor Vehicles. Once a vessel is registered the owner will receive a Certificate of Number that must be kept on board and readily available for inspection by a law enforcement officer whenever the vessel is in operation. 

The Division of Motor Vehicles must be notified within 15 days if the boat is sold, destroyed, or stolen, or if the owner changes address.


All vessels that are and have been purchased since July 1, 1989, must be titled in West Virginia.

How to Display Registration Number and Decals

Display registration number West Virginia

You must display your boat number in the following manner:

  • Painted on or permanently attached to each side of the bow;
  • Using BLOCK letters at least three inches high and of one solid color contrasting sharply with the color of your boat;
  • To read from left to right; letters and numbers must be separated by a space for example, WV 1234 AB
  • No other numbers may be displayed

Every vessel that requires registration must display registration decals, including personal watercraft, as proof of registration. You must display your decals as follows:

  • On both sides of the boat
  • Within six inches immediately following and in line with the registration number
  • Only display current decals.

Validation decal West Virginia

Documented Vessels

Larger recreational vessels may be documented with the US Coast Guard. For more information: contact the USCG Documentation Center at 1-800-799-8362. Documented vessels must also be registered with the Division of Motor Vehicles.