Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Vessel Registration FAQs
Yes, any boat with mechanical propulsion must be registered if it is being operated in waters of the State of Georgia. If the boat is used exclusively on private ponds, then it does not need to be registered.
All sailboats with mechanical propulsion must be registered regardless of length. Sailboats less than 12 feet in length without mechanical prolusion do not require registration. Sailboats 12 feet or longer must be registered whether or not they have mechanical propulsion. Boats operated exclusively on private ponds or lakes do not have to be registered.
All boat registrations, except for transfers, are good for three years. Registrations will expire the last day of the vessel owner's month of birth in the third calendar year.
Transfer registrations are good until the last day of the vessel owner's month of birth in the year the original registration expires.
Customers will receive their decals and registration card within two weeks of completing payment and after all required documents are received.
A duplicate registration card with duplicate decals can be requested by MAIL, TELEPHONE at 1-800-361-2661, or ONLINE following the procedures for boat registration. Duplicate Registration cards and decals are purchased / printed together. The registration cannot be expired. The cost is $1.00 plus an $8.00 service charge if done online, $10.00 service charge by phone, or $10 service change by mail using the boat registration application. If you choose to do this online, go through the screens as if you are registering your boat, and you will get to a choice to purchase a duplicate registration.
If you receive a letter stating additonal documents are needed to process your boat registration, the documents may be sent by fax or email. If the request is for an original out-of-state boat title, the original out-of-state boat title document (not a copy) should be sent to the address on the letter. You may want to make a copy of the original title for your records.
The email address for documents is:
The fax number for documents is:
The mailing address for documents is:
Refund requests are processed by DNR. Only under limited conditions are fees paid to WRD refundable or reversible. Boat registrations are considered valid and useable for 30 days from the date payment and applications are mailed and therefore fees under these conditions are not refundable (a boat may be immediately used in Georgia by keeping a copy of mailed checks and applications as a temporary registration) or from the date issued online or by phone by keeping the online receipt or using the temporary authorization number issued by phone). Customers may receive a refund for charges related to electronic system errors or for payment where they do not receive any privilege or other consideration such as for overpayment.
To be considered for a refund, customers should fully complete a Refund Request form, and send it to the address on the form. It must include a sworn description of the incident or circumstances generating the refund request, and be signed by the requestor. WRD may request additional supporting data or documentation as deemed necessary to complete a thorough evaluation of the particular refund request and render an accurate recommendation or action. Customers will be notified regarding the status of their refund request within 30 days of receipt by WRD.
Refunds or Reversals can only be issued to the payer and will be made in the same method in which the payment was made to WRD (e.g. credit card reversals for credit card payment and a check refund for check or money order payment). Each request for refund or reversal must be made within one full year from the date the charge was incurred or the check or money order was processed.
Once a boat registration has expired, the numbers may be reassigned. Generally if the boat registration expired within the last calendar year, it is likely that the numbers have not been reassigned. The longer a boat goes unregistered, the more likely it is that the numbers will be reassigned and no longer available for the previous customer’s use.
Owners of Georgia registered boats must notify DNR, in writing, of sale or transfer, theft or recovery, or destruction or abandonment of a boat within 15 days. A notification form is located HERE. The signed form may be returned to DNR by:
Owners of Georgia registered boats must notify the Department of a change in address from that shown on their boat registration card within 15 days. This notification must be sent to:
Georgia Department of Natural Resources
If a boat is fully registered and valid in another state, the boat may be used in Georgia. However, after 60 days of continuous use in Georgia, the boat must have Georgia registration.
Federal Coast Guard regulations (CFR Title 33, Section 187.101) require that SSN or individual taxpayer identification numbers (ITIN) be reported for each owner or owners of a vessel, if the person has one of these numbers. If an owner does not have a SSN or ITIN number, other information can be collected and reported.
When a new boat is purchased, the buyer is given a manufacturer's statement of origin (MSO) and a receipt. The MSO and receipt are used to register the new boat. This process is used in every state. In states that title boats, the MSO is surrendered and a title issued to the owner as proof of ownership. Georgia does not title boats, but instead when the MSO is surrendered we issue a Georgia Boat Registration Card to the owner. The Georgia Boat Registration Card functions like a title for boat registration purposes.
The MSO, a title, or a Georgia Boat Registration Card are all proofs of ownership for boat registration purposes in Georgia and other states. If original MSOs or titles are not collected by the State of Georgia, and Georgia issues a registration card for that boat, two proofs of ownerships exist. Having two proofs of ownership for one boat could create problems such as a situation where a boat may be titled or registered in two different states. Or a person might sell a boat to another person and give them one of the proofs of ownership (say the registration card), steal the boat back, and have the MSO as proof of ownership to register the boat in their name in another state.
Georgia only needs a copy of the receipt or bill of sale to register a boat (not the original).
In December 2007, DNR entered into a contract with an outside vendor to design and manage an automated hunting and fishing license and boat registration system. The new license system was required to replace a failing automated licensing system that was not going to be licensed and available to DNR after December 2008. In short, the system was failing and had to be replaced. Absent of a significant funding source to develop and manage a new system “in-house”, DNR explored contractual options for obtaining a “no cost to state” contract like those adopted in many other states. Funding for this type of system would be recovered by the addition of a service charge paid by the buyer at the time of the purchase. The hunting and fishing license and boat registration system was put out for competitive bid, and DNR selected a company that had experience in handling license sales in over 20 other states that contract for this type of service.
The newly adopted system provided valuable advantages over the old system including boat registration through three sales channels: new registrations through mail and telephone, and boat registration renewals through the Internet. A transaction fee applies to all boat registrations. A Call Center operated by the vendor receives about 200,000 calls per year and answers questions about boat registration and recreational hunting and fishing licenses at no charge to the caller.
DNR is aware that Georgia customers would like the option of walk-in boat registration services. We are exploring options for walk -in service and other upgrades to our boat registration system.
When boat registration numbers expire, they become available to be reused. We do this because of the limited quantity of numbers available. While the odds favor that an expired registration number won’t be quickly selected by the computer once it expires, it is available upon expiration and if reassigned is no longer available to the previous registrant. We suggest maintaining boat registrations rather than letting them expire.
In order to register a vessel in Georgia that has been previously registered in another state, Georgia DNR requires documentation supporting the trail of ownership. For vessels previously registered in Georgia or in other non-titling states, that documentation is a bill of sale from the last owner of record or trail of bills of sale back to the last owner of record. In the case of states that title vessels, that supporting documentation is a title from the titling state. In the event that a title is held by a lien holder, that lien holder must have released the title. This is necessary because Georgia does not title vessels or record liens against them. We are unable to register a vessel until the lien holder has released the lien against the out-of-state title and the lien holder or the boat owner provides our office supporting documents showing this has occurred and provides us with the released title.
In Georgia, in order for a lien holder to record your outstanding debt against the vessel, the lien holder may file a UCC-1 form. A checklist and procedures can be found at http://www.gsccca.org/filesandforms/uccforms.asp. This is done at the Georgia county level through the county's Clerk of Superior Court where the boat owner resides and is not available through the License and Boat Registration Unit. Lien holders are often aware of this procedure, and will take the necessary steps to insure their lien is secure against a Georgia registered boat.
Once the lien holder releases the lien against the out-of-state title, they or the boat owner can provide the Georgia Boat Registration Call Center the released title to satisfy Georgia’s requirement. The released title can be mailed to:
GA Dept of Natural Resources
Georgia’s Abandoned Vessel Code, O.C.G.A 52-7-70 through O.C.G.A. 52-7-77, details the steps required in order to declare a vessel abandoned by the State of Georgia. An Abandoned Vessel Package put together by WRD Law Enforcement Section is a helpful guide that contains required forms and outlines processes that may be used to declare a vessel abandoned under Georgia law.
The two key forms to initiate the process, the Abandoned Vessel Notice and Information Request directed to both Georgia Department of Natural Resources and Georgia Bureau of Investigation can be found in the Abandoned Vessel Package. These must be completed with as much information as is known and submitted to the Agency and addresses noted at the top of each form.
If the vessel was abandoned at a storage facility and you have a copy of a contract with the individual that stored the vessel indicating that the vessel was "Specified collateral" and the individual defaulted on that contract, then all you have to do is complete the Default of Security Interest / Transfer Statement to transfer the vessel into your name. It will not be necessary to go through the "Abandoned Vessel" process whenever self-storage facilities contract with individuals and the property stored is "Specified Collateral" and the customer defaults on that security interest.
Our mail-in boat registration procedures were established to meet our fiduciary responsibility to both the State of Georgia and to our customers. The first objective for mail-in payments is to insure that customer’s fees are processed and recorded in such a manner to prevent mishandling of payments, in part accomplished by keeping the number of individuals handling your payment to the lowest level possible. The P.O. Box that receives your boat registration application and payment are physically located at a bank processing center used by the State of Georgia so that your payment is deposited immediately upon receipt. A scanned image of your check or money order is generated as a reference, and your boat registration application is sent from the bank to our license vendor for processing and fulfillment. If the application is complete and all necessary documents are present, the application is completely processed within 48 hours. Decals are created and mailed twice each week. It typically takes about two weeks from the time we receive your application at the P.O. Box until you receive your decals, or receive a letter stating that the application is not complete or documents are missing.
The State of Georgia does not and has never titled or registered outboard motors. The National Vessel Numbering & Titling Manual, Third Edition, published by the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators in 2011 gives information on each state’s vessel numbering and titling practices including which states title and/or register outboard motors.
All boat trailers must be registered with the Georgia Motor Vehicle Division. Registration is done through your local County Tax Commissioners Office (Tag Office). Here is a link that shows Tax Office locations: http://motor.etax.dor.ga.gov/tagoffices/selecttagoffice.aspx.
Homemade boats must be assigned a hull identification number (HIN). To get a HIN, persons should initiate the boat registration process and pay for registration using the normal process (mail or phone) so that a record of the boat is in our system. (After payment, you can use the boat in Georgia immediately for 30 days using the temporary registration by keeping a copy of the application and payment with you while using the boat). Trailerable boats must be taken to a WRD inspection location to receive a HIN. Vessel/HIN Inspections are conducted at locations statewide on a varying schedule. Inspections will not be performed if customers have not paid for a registration in advance of the inspection.
Boat owners should bring receipts for materials used to construct the boat, and any documents and correspondence that relate to the boat, boat construction, or registration process that may be helpful during the Vessel/HIN Inspection that support registration.
For large boats moored at marinas that cannot be trailered, customers should call the office that handles the county where the boat is located to arrange for a Vessel/HIN Inspection. The list of WRD offices by county appears at http://georgiawildlife.dnr.state.ga.us/content/rangercontact.asp.
There is no requirement that the boat remain registered. However, there is a possibility that the registration number on the boat may be reassigned if the registration is allowed to lapse.
Boat owners should use every effort to obtain the required supporting documents for boat registration to avoid costs to themselves and the state. If all options have been exhausted, a WRD Vessel/HIN Inspection may provide the necessary information to complete the boat registration. If a Vessel/HIN Inspection is necessary, the following information will be helpful.
Boat owners will be required to complete the Affidavit of Vessel Ownership form.
At the end of the inspection process, there are several possible outcomes.
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