WV boat registration – What you need to know


CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) – Thousands of boats will hit the Mountain State’s waterways this summer, but getting your mandatory registration for your vessel is getting confusing this year.

“Motorboats need to be registered. The West Virginian Division of Motor Vehicles is the one you work through the process, similar to your vehicle, to get your boat registered,” said Lt. Col. David Trader with the West Virginia DNR.

There are approximately 45,000 registered boats here in West Virginia, which all need to be registered by the DMV.

The West Virginia DMV urges residents to beat the rush and register now.

“The DMV is responsible for everything before the boat gets to the water, and then after that, the Coast Guard and DNR would be the ones to take care of the safety aspects,” said Natalie Holcomb with the West Virginia DMV.

With more than 400,000 first-time boat owners just in 2020, the West Virginia DNR and DMV want to make sure all vessels have Coast Guard-approved tags.

One viewer sent us a notice from the DMV which was sent to more than 20,000 boat owners. The notice is causing some confusion because it states there should be no more than two letters. The DMV said they are looking into this.

Here is the way it really works.

“It will usually say the designated state…for instance WV. Then there will be a space, then three letters and three numbers or four numbers two letters,” said Lt. Col. Trader.

Your registration decal needs to be six inches after that registration number. DNR says this is all for safety.

“It’s a big push nationwide to make sure we have our schemes in place so it’s easily recognizable, identifies the boat, and makes sure it’s legally registered,” said Lt. Col. Trader.

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