How to Title and Register Your Boat in Pennsylvania

Boat Registration Service

The Basics
Because boats are not vehicles that average commuters use every day, one can easily forget that boats require documentation to own and use properly. In the state of Pennsylvania, every boat with a motor requires a title and registration with PA Fish & Boat Commission (PFBC). To get a valid title and registration for your boat – whether it be to register a new boat or complete a registration renewal – you can contact a private auto tag agency like 309 Auto Tags for in-depth assistance.

But first, to help you avoid confusion with registrations, penalties and/or fines, here are the basic regulations for different designations of boats.

Categories of Boats and Boat Registrations

The types of boats designated by the term “motorboat” include inboard motorboats regardless of length, personal watercraft (waverunners) with a model year of 1997 and newer, and all outboard motorboats 14 feet or longer with a model year of 1997 or newer. If you purchased the model of motorboat before 1997 and never titled it, you must bring a current or past registration or a notarized bill of sale showing you as the buyer at the time of the purchase to the agency you plan to register with. You must also bring a state ownership affidavit in such a case.

The PA Fish & Boat Commission doesn’t treat all boats and boat registrations the same way, however. Here are some exceptions:

  • If your boat doesn’t have a motor, you don’t need to register it unless you plan to use it in a Fish & Boat Commission access area, or a state park, lake or river. In these cases you can use a Launch Permit instead of a traditional registration.
  • If you own an Amphibious ATV, your vehicle will require dual registrations. For use in PA waters you must register the ATV with the PA Fish & Boat Commission, and for use on dry land, you must register your ATV with the Dept. of Conservation & Natural Resources (DCNR)

For more detail about the different registrations used for fuel and non-fuel boats, you can refer to this handy page

Also Read: Commonwealth of PA “USA Semiquincentennial” Registration Plate

What You Need to Bring to an Agency to Transfer Title and Register Your Boat

Depending on if you are selling or buying the boat, you may need to bring different documentation to an agency. 

As a seller, you will need to bring:

  • The title and registration of the boat. If it was never titled, you must bring a seller’s registration card, or a seller’s official affidavit of ownership issued by their State Jurisdiction.
  • Your PA driver’s license or PA ID card.
  • A Bill of Sale (notarized if there is no title present).

As a buyer, you must present:

  • A valid PA driver’s license (if you do not have one, then you must bring a PA ID card).
  • If the seller is not present, a boat title and/or seller’s registration card, or a seller’s official affidavit of ownership issued by his or her state jurisdiction.

The Brass Tacks of PA Boat Titling and Registration

The official form for titling and or registering your boat with the PA Fish & Boat Commission is the REV-336

If you financed your boat with a bank loan, you will need to bring in the lender information to the agency in order to have the required lienholder clause added. If you are bringing in your boat from out of state or purchasing an out-of-PA watercraft, you may want to call ahead so the agency can ascertain the policies of the outside state before preparing your registration.

When you leave the agency, you will have a 60 day temporary registration while your title transfer will be processed. Once the title transfer finishes processing, you will receive your two-year registration and title in the mail from PFBC.

Fees and Fines for Not Registering Your Boat Before Use

If you are stopped on public water in PA without a proper registration and title, you run the risk of receiving a penalty. In lighter cases, you might receive the minimum penalty of $25, but in more severe cases you could face a $250+ fine and even a small amount of jail time. 
Naturally, each violation and penalty will vary depending on the case. For a comprehensive list of the penalties and fees you could incur for boat registration and titling violations, refer here. For specific inquiries about boat registrations, title transfers and related documentation, feel free to contact 309 Auto Tags.

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