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How to Register an Inflatable Boat in California

How to Register an Inflatable Boat in California

Inflatable boats, also known as rubber boats or dinghies, have become increasingly popular among boating enthusiasts in California. These versatile and lightweight vessels are perfect for various water activities, including fishing, leisure cruising, and even as tenders for larger vessels. However, like any other boat, inflatable boats must be registered with the proper authorities in California. In this article, we will guide you through the process of registering your inflatable boat in California, along with a FAQs section at the end to address common queries.

Step 1: Gather Required Documents
Before you begin the registration process, make sure you have the following documents ready:

1. Proof of Ownership: This can be in the form of a bill of sale, a manufacturer’s statement of origin, or a previous registration certificate if the boat was previously registered in another state.

2. Hull Identification Number (HIN): Inflatable boats often have a HIN on the transom. If your boat doesn’t have one, contact the manufacturer or dealer to obtain it.

3. Valid Identification: You will need a valid form of identification, such as a driver’s license or passport.

Step 2: Complete the Application
To register your inflatable boat in California, you need to complete the Application for Vessel Certificate of Number and Certificate of Ownership (Form BOAT 101). This form is available online on the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) website or can be obtained from a local DMV office.

Ensure that you accurately fill out all required fields, including your personal information, boat details, and HIN. If you have any questions while completing the form, refer to the instructions provided or seek assistance from a DMV representative.

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Step 3: Pay the Registration Fees
California requires boat owners to pay registration fees based on the length of their vessel. The fees vary depending on the length, so it’s essential to calculate the correct amount. You can find the fee schedule on the DMV website or contact the DMV directly for assistance.

Payment options may include cash, check, money order, or credit/debit card. Be sure to check the preferred payment methods at your local DMV office.

Step 4: Submit the Application
Once you have completed the application and gathered all the necessary documents, you can submit them to your local DMV office. It’s advisable to make copies of all the documents for your records before submission.

During the submission process, the DMV may also provide you with validation decals, registration numbers, and a certificate of number. These items must be affixed to your inflatable boat as per the instructions provided.


Q1: Is registration necessary for all inflatable boats in California?
A1: Yes, all inflatable boats, regardless of their size or purpose, must be registered in California if they are used on state waters.

Q2: Can I register my inflatable boat online?
A2: No, currently, the DMV does not offer online registration for inflatable boats. You must submit the application and required documents in person at a local DMV office.

Q3: Are there any age restrictions for boat registration in California?
A3: No, there are no age restrictions for boat registration. However, if you are under 16 years old, a parent or guardian’s signature is required on the application.

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Q4: What are the consequences of not registering my inflatable boat?
A4: Operating an unregistered boat in California may result in fines, penalties, or even impoundment of the vessel. It’s crucial to comply with the registration requirements to avoid any legal issues.

Q5: Do I need to renew my boat registration annually?
A5: Yes, boat registrations in California must be renewed annually. The DMV will send you a renewal notice before your registration expires, which should be promptly addressed.

By following these steps and adhering to the registration requirements, you can legally enjoy your inflatable boat on California waters. Remember to always carry your registration documents and be aware of any additional boating regulations in your area. Safe travels!

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