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Boat registrations and titles are issued by the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission (PFBC). Pennsylvania boat registrations are valid for up to two years and allows boat operations nationwide and in Canada. Boats are required to be registered in the state where they are primarily used. A valid registration card must be carried on the boat and expires on the date indicated on the decal. 

A certificate of title is a legal document that proves ownership. Certain boats are required to be title in Pennsylvania.

Powered boats:

    • Are boats powered by a gasoline, diesel or electric motor.
    • Are required to be registered.

Unpowered boats:

    • Are boats without motors such as kayaks, canoes, standup paddleboards, rowboats, sailboats, or inflatable boats. 
    • Must be registered or display a launch permit to use a PFBC or DCNR State Park or State Forest access.


The PFBC defines a boat as a watercraft constructed or sold for the primary purpose of being used as a means of transportation on the water. It includes motorboats, unpowered boats, iceboats, and all-terrain and amphibious vehicles when they are operated on water. It does not include:

    • Surfboards and other similar nonpowered contrivances used primarily as swimming aids.
    • Commercial craft subject to Federal manning and inspection requirements.
    • Seaplanes.


To register, you'll need the Hull Identification Number (HIN). Find the HIN on or near the transom (rear) on the upper starboard (right) side above the waterline. If the boat was manufactured before October 31, 1972, a serial number is acceptable. Homemade boats with the required documentation will be issued a HIN unless it is a Kit boat with an HIN. 

 3 HIN Number.png

Displaying registration:
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 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. 

Note: The Commission does not supply the actual letters and numbers.  Owners are responsible for purchasing and displaying the registration number. 

Registering an abandoned boat

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