CACalifornia DMV Vessel Registration Renewal

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NEW! Quagga mussel sticker not required for saltwater boating.
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Order Includes: New Certificate of Number (registration card), vessel year tag, and instant e-Card download.



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California Boat Registration - Vessel Registration Renewal

When do I need to renew my boat/vessel registration in California?
Vessel registration expires on December 31 of every odd-numbered year and must be renewed on or before midnight of that date to avoid penalty. The DMV mails vessel registration renewal notices approximately two (2) months before the vessel's registration expiration date. Your registration certificate (Certificate of Number) must be on board your vessel anytime it's under operation. Vessel registration renewal fees are indicated below. NOTE: A vessel must be located in California in order to be renewed.

Vessel Registration Renewal     Vessel+Quagga      No Quagga 
 
Biennial Renewal (due in odd years)     $46     $30
Penalty     $10     $10
Quagga Sticker Only     $16     -
 
Quagga Mussel Fee Exemption
  • Vessels used only in marine waters
  • Annual exempt youth group (type license [TL] V6)
  • Annual exempt government (TL V7)
  • CF numbers issued to dealers (TL V3)
  • CF numbers issued to manufacturers (TL V4)
Can I get a citiation for having an expired vessel registration?
Yes. Operating a boat, sea-doo, waverunner, vessel or watercraft (which is required to be registered in California) without a visible and current vessel registration sticker or CF Number is a violation of law. California Vehicle Code. V.C. Section 9850 states... "Every undocumented vessel using the waters or on the waters of this state shall be currently numbered. No person shall operate nor shall any county, city, or political subdivision give permission for the operation of any undocumented vessel on those waters unless the undocumented vessel is numbered in accordance with this chapter, or in accordance with applicable federal law, or in accordance with a federally approved numbering system of another state, and unless (1) the certificate of number issued to such undocumented vessel is in full force and effect, and (2) the identifying number set forth in the certificate of number is displayed on each side of the bow of the undocumented vessel for which the identifying number was issued."

This citation IS NOT a correctable offense. In other words you may not simply pay your renewal fees and have an officer sign off your ticket in lieu of paying the citiation. Citation fees will vary based on county.
Is the Quagga Mussel sticker included in my boat registration renewal?
No. Quagga Mussel sticker renewal is a seperate process, and to the delight of many boat owners, no longer a requirement during vessel registration renewal. The California Department of Parks and Recreation has revised state regulations related to the collection of the Quagga Mussel Fee as required by Federal Regulations. The payment of the Quagga Mussel Fee is no longer a requirement to obtain vessel registration or renewal in the State of California.

The Quagga and Zebra Mussel Infestation Prevention Fee (Quagga Mussel Fee) will no longer be required to be paid as a requirement for original and renewal vessel registration applications with a date fees due on or after December 31, 2021. This is welcomed news for many boat owners who primarily operate in saltwater. For years the DMV has been collecting Quagga and Zebra Mussel fees from boaters who have never placed their vessels in freshwater; many with boats which were not allowed to operate in lakes or other bodies of freshwater due to their size or being operated by two (2) stroke engines.

The new regulation no longer requires mandatory Quagga Mussel sticker renewal. Quagga Mussel fee will not be automatically assessed as part of fees due for vessel transactions. Vessels not required to be registered in California such as "Documented Vessels" with the U.S. Coast Guard will continue to be exempt from displaying the Quagga Mussel sticker as well.
How do I renew my Quagga and Zebra Mussel sticker?
Vessel owners renewing the vessel registration online using NeedTags or the DMV Vehicle Registration Internet Renewal (VRIR) portal will no longer be able to purchase the Quagga Mussel sticker as part of the vessel renewal process. A new online application is available on the DMV website at Quagga Sticker Request to allow customers to separately purchase and obtain a Quagga Mussel sticker. The Quagga Mussel sticker will be mailed separately. There is currently no method to expidite the Quagga Mussel renewal process. Please expect 4-6 weeks for delivery.
I lost my DMV registration renewal notice. Can I still renew my boat registration online?
Yes. You will need the last 3 digits of your vessel's HIN number (hull identification number), your vessel's CF number and the zip code where your vessel is registered. You may then use our online registration renewal system to complete the DMV biennial vessel registration renewal. You may choose to have your new vessel renewal sticker overnighted or express shipped to any address in the U.S. or Canada. A digital registration e-Card will be provided to you immediately after checkout and at no cost. Our system is designed with boaters in mind. We make getting back on the water exactly how it should be, a breeze.
How do I find my boat's Hull Identification Number (HIN)?
The HIN is typically found on a metal or plastic plate, on the transom of the boat, usually on the starboard (right) side within two (2) inches of the top of transom. On vessels without transoms, the HIN is usually affixed to the starboard (right) outboard side of hull, aft, within one foot of the stern and within two inches of the top of the hull side. On catamarans and pontoon boats with replaceable hulls, the HIN is usually affixed to the aft crossbeam, within one (1) foot of the starboard (right) hull attachment. Boats manufactured or imported on or after August 1, 1984 also have a duplicate secondary HIN affixed somewhere on an unexposed location inside the boat or beneath a fitting or item of hardware/furniture/appliance.
I don't plan on using my boat next year. Can I place it under PNO?
A planned non-operation filing (PNO) or certificate of nonoperation (CNO) is not acceptable for vessels. Powerboats, sailboats, sea-doos, waverunners, jet skis and other watercraft which require registration in California cannot have their registrations placed on "pause" or "hold". The biennial vessel registration renewal fee is due on or before midnight of December 31 of every odd-numbered year in order to avoid penalty. Dealer inventory is exempt from paying renewal fees and must report inventory to the DMV on a REG 256.
Do I have to renew my boat's registration if I'm using it on a private lake?
Yes. Any boat/vessel that travels or is moored in California waterways must be registered with DMV. This includes private lakes. For DMV in-person service, please make a DMV appointment prior to your visit.
Why does my registration card say "Undocumented Vessel"? I have my documents.
This question gets asked a lot and rightfully so. The terms documented or undocumented as they relate to a vessel's Certificate of Number (registration card), is an indication of whether or not the vessel/boat/watercraft is registered with the U.S. Coast Guard, respectively.

  • A documented boat/vessel is registered with the U.S. Coast Guard and has a marine certificate. These boats/vessels do not have to be registered with the California DMV.
  • An undocumented boat/vessel is registered with the California DMV and does not have a marine certificate from the U.S. Coast Guard.
If you buy a new boat/vessel it is automatically considered undocumented so you have to register the boat/vessel either with CA DMV or U.S. Coast Guard before you can put it in California waters.
Can I receive my renewed Certificate of Number and vessel sticker at my new address?
Yes. NeedTags can process your vessel registration renewal and mail your sticker and Certificate of Number (registration card) to any address in the U.S. This will not perform a Change of Address with the California DMV. You must contact the DMV to officially change your address. To change your address on-file with the California Department of Motor Vehicles you must have the following:

  • California driver license or California identification card
  • Social security number
  • Last issued vehicle or vessel registration card
  • Address in the United States
 
Follow this link to change your address online (account required): Change Address Online - CA DMV
 
Address Update: While processing your registration order through NeedTags the DMV may require that we update your mailing address. Should this occur you will need to submit an address verification document. Follow this link to view a list of acceptable address verification documents.
Will I receive a new Vessel Year Sticker with my renewal? How should I display it on my boat?
When renewing your registration through NeedTags, in addition to receiving your vessel Certificate of Number registration card, you will also receive two (2) vessel registration stickers. You'll need to place the stickers on both sides of your boat/vessel (starboard and portside), three inches apart from your vessel registration number (CF number). Your registration stickers must be clearly visible at all times. Other than your vessel CF number, do not place any numbers, letters, or devices near the registration sticker. Similar to a vehicle's license plates, a vessel's CF numbers and registration stickers must be clearly visible while in operation.
Vessel Sticker Placement
 
Do I need to have insurance on my boat in order to renew its registration?
While boat insurance or jet ski insurance is not a requirement by law in the State of California, for renewal or initial vessel registration, it is highly advisable since not being insured comes with a measure of risk. In the event of a collision or damage to the vessel or to yourself and others, boat/vessel/jet ski insurance (also known as PWC Insurance) offers similar coverage to that of an automobile:

  • Collision
  • Liability
  • Comprehensive
  • Medical
  • On-water towing and labor
  • Emergency
I received the registration renewal notice for a boat/vessel/watercraft which I sold. What should I do?
Contact the DMV in-person or mail in a Notice of Transfer and Release of Liability. Anytime a vessel is sold in California the seller has a responsibility to report the sale to the Department of Motor Vehicles within 10 days of the sale date. Typically you would tear the top portion of the Certificate of Title (Release of Liability section) and mail it in to the DMV. If you've already done that, it is possible the DMV has not received your Release of Liability document or your vessel registration renewal was mailed out before the DMV was made aware of the sale. In either case, the registration renewal is the responsibility of the new owner, but you must ensure the DMV records the release of liability and new owner information. Follow this link to perform a Release of Liability online.

How To Renew Boat/Vessel Registration - Online/In-Person

Several options exist which will allow you to renew your boat, sea-doo, waverunner, jet ski, watercraft or vessel registration, with or without having received your vessel's registration renewal notice. Have your vessel's CF number and last three (3) digits of the Hull Identification Number (HIN) available. You can obtain both of these off a Certificate of Number (registration card), Certificate of Title, CA DMV renewal notice, or directly from your vessel. The HIN is typically found on a metal or plastic plate, on the transom of the boat, usually on the starboard (right) side within two (2) inches of the top of transom. Boats manufactured or imported on or after August 1, 1984, also have a duplicate secondary HIN affixed somewhere on an unexposed location inside the boat.

Renewal Not Received? If you recently moved and suspect this to be the reason your DMV vessel renewal notice never arrived, we highly recommend renewing your boat's registration through NeedTags. We'll ensure your new registration document and sticker gets mailed to your new address. Plus, if DMV asks for an address update while your renewal is being processed, we'll be able to update those records and issue your new Certificate of Number registration card with your correct address printed.
Online Option 1 - Expedited DMV Processing through NeedTags (Same-Day)
If your renewal notice does not include a RIN number and the DMV website does not accept your vessel's information, or more importantly, you need your vessel's registration renewed immediately, perhaps you have a fishing or leisure boating trip coming up soon, consider renewing your vessel/boat registration through NeedTags and get on the water California legal in no time. We have communication channels built into our system which allow us to handle DMV vessel transactions quickly and effortlessly online. As an authorized DMV partner, NeedTags can process your vessel renewal, resolve any hold-up, and ship your renewed vessel documents as fast as overnight, and to any address in the U.S. or Canada, with guaranteed delivery.
Mail-in Option 2 - Manual DMV Processing (6-8 Weeks)
Mail your renewal notice and renewal fee to: DMV, P.O. Box 942869, Sacramento, CA 94269. If renewing vessel registration for a vessel which has DMV records which do not match correct owner or address information (except for typographical errors), you must submit your application in person and provide proof of ownership, e.g. registration card, drivers license or ID. Call (800) 777-0133 for more information.
In-Person Option 3 - Manual DMV Processing (Same-Day)
Visit your local DMV office. Take with you your vessel's registration renewal notice. Be prepared to show proof of ownership via a Bill of Sale, Certificate of Number, Certificate of Title, and your identification card or drivers license. Have registration renewal payment, as indicated above, available as well. For DMV in-person service, please make a DMV appointment prior to your visit.