Boat Registration & Titling FAQs
1. Do I need to register or title my boat?
Boats that must be registered:
- Any boat powered by a gasoline, diesel or electric motor.
- Vessels documented by the U.S. Coast Guard for recreational purposes. Documented vessels are large pleasure boats, such as yachts.
- Boats such as sailboats that use gasoline, diesel or electric motors for auxiliary power.
Boat - the Commission defines a boat as: Every description of watercraft constructed or sold for the primary purpose of being used as a means of transportation on the water. The term does not include:
- Surfboards and other similar nonpowered contrivances used primarily as swimming aids.
- Commercial craft subject to Federal manning and inspection requirements.
Go to our Registration/Titling page to find out how to register or title a boat.
Unpowered boats are boats without motors such as certain kayaks, canoes, rowboats, sailboats, rafts or inflatable boats. Unpowered boats are not required to be registered – unless used at a Fish & Boat Commission access area or lake, or at Pennsylvania state parks and state forests; or required by the owner.
Another option for unpowered boats (only) is a Use (Boat Launch) Permit from the Fish & Boat Commission, or a Launch or Mooring Permit from the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Bureau of State Parks.
Permits can also be purchased online using a credit card at The Outdoor Shop (choose Products, then Boat Permits).
Any boat purchased, transferred or sold, must be titled if the boat is:
- Powered by an inboard motor, including personal watercraft, 1997 model year or newer.
- Powered by an outboard motor, 14 feet or longer, 1997 model year or newer.
- Currently titled in Pennsylvania.
- Currently titled in another state when Pennsylvania becomes the state of primary uses.
Once a boat is titled, it must remain titled by all future owners.
Any boat can be voluntarily titled. Boat titling assures the buyer of a boat that the seller has clear ownership of a boat offered for sale. Some lenders won’t finance a boat without a title, so securing a loan to purchase a boat may be easier if the boat is titled. Titling is also a deterrent to boat theft. Boat dealers and other purchasers are more certain that someone offering a boat for sale has the legal right to do so.
2. What is the difference between a registration and title?
A boat registration is similar to a car registration. A registration card is issued and must be carried on the boat as proof of registration. It is valid for and renewed every two (2) years. Registrations expire March 31 of the second year. Registering your boat allows you to boat in all other states and Canada. A boat must be registered in the state of primary use. Registration is not a secure ownership document.
A boat title is similar to a car title. A boat title is a legal document proving ownership; a registration does not prove ownership. Titles are often required by lenders to prove the seller has clear ownership of the boat. A title needs to be purchased only once. Boat titles are only issued by the Fish & Boat Commission.
3. Where can I get a registration or title?
PA boat registrations and titles are issued exclusively by the Fish and Boat Commission.
In most cases, new boat owners will want a Temporary Registration so they can use their boats while registration documents are processed. Temporary registrations are issued by approved Boat Registration Agents, county treasurers and Commission region offices. To find locations, consult our online listing, or call toll-free: 866-262-8734.
Once there, you must complete an Application for Boat Registration/Title, REV-336. This form and other registration and titling forms are available at many marine dealers, county treasurer offices and Commission regional offices. Most forms are also available online or you can view Commission region office locations.
4. Can I use my boat while I'm waiting for my registration to be processed?
In most cases, new boat owners will want a temporary registration so they can use the boat while the application is processed. Only approved boat registration agents can issue a temporary registration.
5. How much does it cost?
Fees cover a 2 year period, which expires March 31 of the 2nd year.
|Unpowered Boats - 2 years
|Motorboats under 16 feet
|Motorboats 16 feet to less than 20 feet
|Motorboats 20 feet and over
|Transfer of Registration Fee - same owner with a current registration buys a new boat
|Agent Fee (for issuing temporary registration)
|Certificate of Title (new or corrected)
Launch Permit Fees
Unpowered boats only.
The following boats are required to register but are exempt from registration fees:
- Motorboats owned or operated by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
- Motorboats owned by public service organizations approved by the Commission and used exclusively for training, education, water safety and other public service functions.
- Motorboats owned by political subdivisions and quasi-public organizations, such as police departments, volunteer fire departments and river rescue units, and used exclusively in the performance of their work in enforcement or public safety.
6. Can I renew my registration online?
Yes. The renewal process can be completed online at The Outdoor Shop. After completing the required fields, your boat registration will be mailed to the address that is currently on file with the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission (address will be displayed for confirmation). A $2.00 fee is assessed for each boat renewal done at The Outdoor Shop.
New registrations and boat transfers cannot be completed at The Outdoor Shop, these must be done by mail.....download REV-336 for new boat registrations and boat registration transfers.
7. What forms do I need?
Form REV-336 must be completed and signed by all parties. Proof of ownership must be provided in the form of a title from Pennsylvania or another state, or the manufacturer’s certificate of origin* and a copy of the bill of sale.
* An applicant for initial registration of a boat with a retail value of less than $2,000 that is being registered voluntarily may substitute the original receipt issued by a dealer or other retailer for the manufacturer's certificate of origin.
Form PFBC-730A is mailed to boat owners several months before the current registration expires. Check the form carefully and correct any errors. Indicate the estimated gallons of gasoline used from the previous boating season. Indicate any duplicates you need and return the form with the applicable fee.
Form PFBC-730A is the automatic renewal application mailed each December. If the boat owner doesn't receive this form or the registration has been expired for several years, then form PFBC-733 is the supplemental renewal form to use.
Transfer of Ownership
The last registered owner and applicant (new owner) must complete and sign form REV-336 to transfer ownership of the boat. A bill of sale, signed by the last registered owner selling the boat, may be substituted for the seller’s signature on form REV-336. Transferring ownership of a titled boat is just like transferring a car title. The titled owner must sign the back of the title and have it notarized. The new owner must complete, sign and submit form REV-336 with the applicable fee..
Pennsylvania State Sales Tax: Sales tax is six percent (6%), a local sales tax applies to boats and related accessories purchased by residents of Allegheny and Philadelphia Counties. Allegheny County residents are subject to 1 percent local sales tax, and Philadelphia residents are subject to 2 percent local sales tax. Credit may be given for tax paid in another state.
8. What if I lose my boat decals, registration card or title?
A duplicate registration card is $3; a duplicate title is $5. There is no charge for replacement decals. Duplicate registration cards, decals and titles can be obtained only from the Commission Licensing and Registration Section. Use form PFBC-732 for a duplicate registration card and/or decals and form PFBC-T1 for a duplicate title.
9. What if I never received my boat registration and decals?
If the Commission is notified within 90 days of issuing a registration certificate and validation decals that the intended recipient has not received them within 90 days, the Commission will issue a replacement registration certificate and a set of replacement validation decals at no cost to the customer.
If the Commission does not receive notification within 90 days of issuing a registration certificate and validation decals that the intended recipient has not received them, the customer shall be required to purchase a duplicate registration card at the cost of $3 and shall be issued a set of replacement validation decals at no cost.
Duplicate registration cards, decals and titles can be obtained only from the Commission Licensing and Registration Section. Use form PFBC-732 for a duplicate registration card and/or decals.
10. Do I need to report a change of address?
Yes. You must report the following changes within 15 days to the Licensing and Registration Section using form PFBC-732.
- Change of address.
- Change of ownership.
- Lost, stolen, destroyed or abandoned watercraft.
11. wHAT IS A HULL IDENTIFICATION NUMBER (HIN)?
All boats built for sale since 1972 have a Hull Identification Number (HIN) assigned by the manufacturer. The HIN is located on the outside of the transom (rear) on the starboard (right) side above the waterline. If the boat is homemade or built before 1972, the Commission will assign a HIN to the boat.
12. How do i display the registration number?
The numbers and letters must:
- Be painted or permanently attached to each side of the boat's forward half.
- Read from left to right.
- Be bold, block letters and numbers, at least 3 inches high, and be a contrasting color to the background.
- Be separated by a dash or space equal to the width of any letter or number except "I" or "1."
The validation decal must be displayed within 6 inches of the number (before or following) on the same level. Follow these guidelines to remove the decals from the backing material:
- Bend the 3"x 3" decals along the center score
- Peel the decal away from the backing material starting from the middle and working toward the outside edges.
- Bend (do not fold) the 1"x 1" decal in the middle.Peel off the decal starting from the inside edge working toward the outside edge.
Note: The Commission does not supply the actual letters and numbers. The owner is responsible for purchasing and displaying the registration number. Hardware stores and boat dealers, for example, sell these kinds of letters and numbers.
13. IS MY OUT-OF-STATE REGISTRATION VALID IN PENNSYLVANIA?
In most cases, yes.
It is legal to operate a boat registered in another state on Pennsylvania waters. Boats must be registered in the state of primary use. The state of primary use is the state where a boat is on the water more than it is on the water of any other state. It does not matter where you live. If you use your boat more often in Pennsylvania than your home state, PA is your primary state of use. The law allows for the occasional use of a boat in states other than those where the boat is registered.
Out-of-state boaters with a boat validly registered in their home state are granted reciprocal privileges to boat in Pennsylvania for up to 60 days. Persons who may use their boats in this state for greater than 60 days are required to register their boats in Pennsylvania.
Note that different states may have different requirements. For instance some states may allow unpowered boats on state parks and other state-owned facilities to boat without a registration. In Pennsylvania, unpowered boats using state parks and Commission accesses are required to be registered or to have a use (launch) permit.
14. Are there any other requirements or laws i should know about?
Yes. An overview of Pennsylvania boating can be found in the PA Boating Handbook. It provides detailed explanations of boating regulations, safety information and much more.
Print (paper) copies are also available, free of charge, at Commission offices, county treasurers and approved boat registration issuing agents. Call 1-888-723-4741 to get any of these publications.
While not a regulation or law guide, our Boating FAQ may also be useful. It provides information about boating in general, boating regulations and boating safety education.
15. Why do i have to report how much fuel i used?
Fuel usage reports from registered boat owners allow the Commission to recover a portion of the taxes paid when the fuel was purchased. The Commission uses this money to support its boating programs. Under-reporting, or not reporting any fuel, decreases the amount of money available to support boating facilities and boating programs in Pennsylvania. Registered boat owners should try to be as accurate as possible when providing this information.
16. How do i sell by boat?
The most important part of the sale is to document the transaction accurately by including dates, costs, descriptions, signatures, etc. You need to sign the proper registration and title forms as the seller, and the purchaser needs to do the same. For any registration and/or title application, all parties must complete and sign form REV-336.
17. how many boats does the commission register?
The Commission provides a report that shows the number of boat registrations sold.