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Michigan State Registration

Now that you have a boat, what is required to get you on the water legally and safely?  Although all sailboats are required to be registered with the state, not all sailboats are required to have a title. Although a summary is below, for the latest in official regulations, see the Michigan Secretatary of State information

Sailboat Title

If your sailboat is 20 ft. in length or longer, or has a permenantly affixed engine (regardless of length), then your boat must be titled.  For titled-boats, a re-assignment of the title is necessary to transfer boat ownership. If required, a lost/missing title may be replaced through your local Secretary of State office. For boats < 20 ft. in length (and without a permenant engine), titling your boat is optional.


Sailboat Registration

All sailboats, but not sailboards, are required to be registered in the State of Michigan. This can be done at your local Secretary of State office (the same place you register your car). If your sailboat does not have a title, you will need to fill out an Ownership Certification form. This form is available online. Once you have registered your boat, you will receive a Certificate of Number (analagous to your automobile registration) and a validation decal. The registration and decal are good for 3 years (expiring on March 31st of the third year) and may be renewed. Both are provided by the Secretary of State. A registration fee of $9 applies to all non-motorized sailboats. Note that boats registered in other states, but being temporarily used in Michigan, do not need to be registered in Michigan. If you are planning on international travel, using your boat for chartering, or certain other activities, check with the U.S. Coast Guard for additional documentation procedures.

Michigan Boat Registration DecalsYou will need to display your registration number (from the Certificate) on the hull of your boat. This may be done with paint or vinyl lettering of at least 3" in height. The number should be placed on the port (left) and starboard (right) sides of the hull at the bow of the boat. The numbrs should read from left to right in the format: MC 3717 ZW (note the spaces) or MC-3717-ZW and be followed by the Validation Decal.

In addition to registering your boat, your boat trailer will also need to be registered (and plated). A one-time fee for a non-expiring plate is based on weight and is $75 for all trailers < 2500 lbs and is $200 for trailers > 2499 lbs but less than 10,000 lbs.

All sailors (especially new ones) should strongly consider taking the Michigan Boating Safety course at and receive certification. Additional certification and boat inspections are available through the US Coast Guard and may be required depending on the boat size and intended travel and use.

For the lastest in official words, Please visit the following websites:



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