Do You Have To Register A Boat With A Trolling Motor In California? Get the Facts Straight

Avid boaters ask – do you have to register a boat with a trolling motor in California?

Perhaps you are looking to buy a new boat. Or you are planning on moving to California or using your boat with a trolling motor in this part of the country.

If you are unaware of the rules and regulations, you may have certain issues with the law.

So, it is important to get the facts straight and know for sure what the guidelines are when using this type of boat in the state of California. Keep reading because this post is fully-loaded with the information you need to know!

Know the Basics: Do You Need to Register a Boat with a Trolling Motor in California?

First of all, a trolling motor is an engine that moves a boat quietly through the water.

If you are fishing or boating for leisure, you no longer need to exert too much effort to ride this boat. By simply relying on the trolling motor’s action, you can go from one section of the water to the next.

But it is important to note that there are simply some laws to take note of before you freely use your boat.

If you are in California, you have to be aware of certain guidelines involving boats with a trolling motor.

For instance, any boat that is powered by a trolling motor requires registration in California.

If you have a canoe, kayak, or any water vessel that is motor-driven, you have to get it registered before you can use it.

The only exception to this is when it is US coast guard-documented. Otherwise, you need to get the paperwork done and register your watercraft to avoid any penalties.

How to Register a Boat with Trolling Motor in California

The rules for vessel registration depend from one state to another.

In California, manually-propelled watercraft do not need to be registered such as sailboats under 8 feet long, boats that are sail-driven, foreign vessels, USCG-documented vessels, water vessels registered elsewhere, and lifeboats intended for the purpose of lifesaving.

Now, as for the requirements, you need to obtain a registration certificate, ownership certificate, and your vessel’s registration stickers. This applies to moored or used boats.

When applying for the registration of your boat, you need to head over to the Department of Motor Vehicles, which is located in Sacramento, California.

In some instances, the registration is done with the Department of Licensing, Department of Natural Resources, or the Department of Fish and Game.

As I mentioned previously, you need to obtain a license plate for your boat. This includes numbers and letters that are unique to your water vessel. You need to display this license plate near the bow or on the hull of your boat.

There is a required size for the letters and numbers, which is about 3 inches on a minimum. You have the option to purchase a template for the font size at hardware stores or paint it yourself.

Moreover, you will also need to secure a registration sticker for your boat. This shows that your registration is still good for the year. As for the validity date of registration, it depends on the state. In most cases, it should be valid from 1 to as long as 3 years.

Once the registration has expired, you can renew it yourself. You should be able to receive a form that notifies you about the need to renew your registration. Along with the form is an assessment or bill. Upon payment of the fee, you will then obtain a renewal sticker for your boat.

The cost of registering a boat in California is $29 for those submitted in even-numbered years. When in odd-numbered years, it is $49. (As of the time of writing)

There are also fees to settle for the transfer, which is $15 and the same price for repossession ($15).

Check out this video for additional information that may be helpful for you:

Additional Information You Need to Know

There are some confusions on boat documentation and boat registration.

I understand why this can be confusing because of the close similarity between the two. However, these are actually different things. For instance, documentation merely involves a boat name, hailing port, application, and a fee.

As for registration, this depends on the state laws. Smaller boats need to be registered with your state of residence. Additionally, water vessels that weigh 5 net tons may be documented federally with the USCG.

As long as the boat is documented, it means that it qualifies as a US water vessel. This can also obtain certain protections in foreign waters.

If you own a documented vessel, you need to settle your property taxes. A state tax bill will be sent to you, as long as your vessel is USCG-documented.

Some people wonder if a dinghy needs to be registered. It only needs to have proper registration if your vessel comes with an outboard. Any motorized watercrafts used on public waterways must undergo registration and need to have a title.

When you have registered your boat, you can purchase registration numbers for your vessel at marine equipment outlets and hardware stores. These are places to find boat lettering for your registration information to properly display on your boat.

Read More: How To Register A Homemade Boat In Texas in Easy, Simple Steps!

Bottom Line

I hope this post answered your question, “Do you have to register a boat with a trolling motor in California.”

Once you have received your registration certificate and numbers, be sure to keep these documents in your boat each time you use it. This way, you have your proof of registration in hand to avoid any inconveniences and penalties.

Lastly, make it a point to renew your registration once expired and comply with the requirements by the state of your residence. Happy boating!

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