How To Put Registration Sticker On Inflatable Boat?

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Many boaters don’t know how to put registration stickers on inflatable boats, but they should. In some jurisdictions, you are not allowed to use a boat unless it is registered. But getting a registration number from the authorities is one thing; sticking it properly to the boat is another.

In this article, we will show you the different ways to stick a registration number in an inflatable boat. Hopefully, if you follow our recommendations, this is one problem you will never have to deal with ever again.

Is it necessary to register an inflatable boat?

One question you may ask as a newbie boater is if it is important to register an inflatable boat, and the answer is yes; you need to if the boating law in your area demands it.

In some jurisdictions, registration numbers are only excused if you use a motor. In other jurisdictions, registration numbers are not required unless the boat is a very big one. Inflatable boats are not required to have numbers in such jurisdictions.

If the inflatable boat uses a motor in your state, you will most likely need to register it. This law was enacted after the authorities noticed that drug smugglers were using them to illegally transport drugs across the border and state lines.

Check the boating laws

To be on the safe side, check the boating law in your area to see what type of boats require registration. The coast guard or motor vehicle registration office should be able to provide you with this information. If it is required, the officials will direct you on how to apply for one.

Registration Number Requirements

There are certain requirements you must fulfill before you can get a number for your boat. These requirements vary from state to state based on the indigenous laws regarding boating. But here are two main requirements.

Registration number position

The number should be placed in front of the boat, not the back. Furthermore, it should be the only number on your boat so as not to confuse the coastguards during an inspection. The number must also be painted or written in bold colors for better visibility.

Block lettering

Another requirement synonymous with most, if not all jurisdictions is that the number must be in block lettering. This makes it easy for officials to see it clearly. Numbers and letters should be at least 3 inches large.

How to affix a registration number on your inflatable boat

There are different ways to affix a registration number on your boat. The ideal thing is to pick an option that works for you. Here are some of the methods that come to mind.

Plastic/Metal Number

A plastic or metal plate number is one way to go about it. There are different ways to use this method. You can either have the numbers engraved on the boat using these materials. Or you can bore holes into the body and affix the metal or plastic slab bearing the numbers.

The good thing about plastic and metal plates is that they last for years. Moreover, you can remove them easily after deflating the boat. This is a useful method for both rigid and inflatable boats.

Custom Made numbers

Another method is to use custom-made numbers for your inflatable boat. Graphic numbers are very good because the designer will use materials best suited for the boat. The material has an adhesive back that will stick to the body. While you can do it yourself, we recommend giving the job to an expert who will be in the best position to use materials that will not compromise your vessel.

The only downside to this method is that you may need to remove and install the number all the time. Therefore, careful handling is also important, so you don’t lose it.

Permanent Marker

You can use a permanent marker to write your registration number in bold letters and numbers. There are special markers meant for this purpose. If you don’t want to ruin the body of the inflatable boat, you can cover the spot you plan to write on with a sticker. Then write the number on the sticker or tape.

Make sure the letters are in sharp contrast with the color of your boat to make it visible.

Use Paint

Many boaters don’t like using paint because exposure to water washes it off, but if you have no other option, you should consider using it.

When using paint, you have the option to either use a marker or use a sprayer. Any of the two will suffice but make sure of two things.

  • The number is bold and in block form
  • The paint dries well enough before you use the boat

Motor Change

To conclude this article, let us address the consequences of a motor change. If you power your inflatable boat with a motor, you definitely need a registration sticker, but what happens if you decide to change your motor? Do you get a new number or stick with your old one?

Normally, registration numbers are registered to the name of the boat’s owner, so changing the motor may not warrant a name change. However, local laws differ, so before you start using your new motor, you may want to contact your local authorities for directions. They are in the best position to provide clarity in the way forward. In the case of a stolen boat, your local coast guard can also use your registration number to track your vessel.

How to put registration sticker on an inflatable boat FAQ

1.      Do I need to use a bait registration number?

It depends on what the law says in your jurisdiction. Smaller inflatable boats may not need a number, but larger ones do. If it uses a motor, it definitely needs to be registered.

2.      How do I put the registration number on my boat?

There are different ways to do it. You can use a custom-made graphic, metal or plastic plates, use a marker or bold paint. As long as it is displayed clearly, you are good to go.

3.      What are the simple steps to take to attach my number to my boat?

It depends on the method you are using, but in general,  you should

  • Mark the area you want to attach the number
  • Sand the spot to smoothen it (not required for inflatables)
  • Apply adhesive to make it sticky
  • Install the plate

4.      Must my number be visible at all times?

Yes, it should be visible at all times. This will enable law enforcement authorities to identify who the boat belongs to. Registration/identification numbers are used to identify one boat from another.

5.      Where should I place my registration sticker?

This sticker should be placed at the starboard side of the boat or the stern.

6.      What other thing do the authorities use registration numbers for?

It is used to track your boat’s history for reference purposes. In addition, this can be a helpful tool for conducting search and rescue missions in case of emergencies.

7.      What is the ideal size for registration numbers on stickers?

The ideal size is at least 3 inches or more. The bigger, the better.

8.      Why did the authorities make it mandatory to use registration numbers?

 Besides using it as a tool to track boating history by location, they use it to track drug smugglers who may use inflatable and rigid boats to smuggle drugs and arms across border and state lines.

Final Thoughts

Attaching a registration number to an inflatable boat is not required for all boats. Also, different states have different laws guiding boating, so you will have to do your research before you start using an inflatable boat. Contact your local coast guard or DMV office to find out more about boat registration. When you get your number, follow the tips outlined in this article to attach it.


Last updated: 27/03/2022

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