Michigan Boat Registration

Michigan Boat Registration HIN Check

Example where to find the Boat Registration Number and title Decal sticker
Example where to find the Boat State Registration Number and title Decal sticker. State letters differ.

Michigan boat registration FAQs are found below and can be downloaded as PDF. We have written this page to inform the boating community about registration requirements, recording methods, and title search guidelines for the State of Michigan. We also cover the titling fees if applicable.

We will cover information about the Boat Registration Agency in this state and if you are wondering about Registration and marking requirements we have an overview of that as well. We also talk about Registration Requirements for boats in Michigan along with things you need to know about boat Ownership and Liens so you can better perform Boat Title Searches or boat history lookups in MC.

Where are Michigan Boats Registered?

Remember, some states have titling for boats and others do not. Michigan issues both registrations and titles for all non-exempt boats operating within its jurisdiction. These are administered by the Michigan secretary of state (https://www.michigan.gov/sos/). This state does not issue title or registration certificates for outboard motors. Registration is required for boat trailers and titles are required on those weighing over 3,000 lbs.

Does Michigan have clean titles? Boat titles are always “clean” unless a state has enacted UCOTVA. All other states will not have any indication on the title that the boat has a salvage or total loss brand like cars have on their titles.

Did you know that 800,000 boats registered in the State of Michigan make up 0.2% of all USA vessel registrations?

Chart: Michigan Number of boats by year
Chart: Michigan Number of boats by year

For more boating statistics see: Volume of Recreational boating vessels in the U.S.

Podcast: Michigan boat registration

Michigan Boat Registration Numbers

Michigan boat registration numbers begin with a “MC”. The MC designation is followed by four numbers and then two letters like in most states. You will have to display these as shown above, if your boat is not documented at the USCG. Put the MC boat registration sticker tab next to it. The state reg. number should not be confused with the 12 character Hull ID (HIN).

All boats manufactured after 1972 are required to have a 12 digit hull identification number affixed to the vessel by the manufacturer. State assigned hull numbers prefixed with the letters “MCZ” are available for home made boats and those without factory designations. Hull number inspections are not required in Michigan unless there is a discrepancy. (use HinDecoder.com to validate your HIN formatting is good)

Order engraved HIN Tag ID Plate from ebay here.

Sample HIN Tag ID Plate
Sample HIN Tag ID Plate

Exceptionally, a Coast Guard documented vessel does not need to display the state registration number but instead they would display the state registration tabs, an owner designated vessel name, and a hailing port. The USCG Official documentation number must also be affixed on other locations on the boat: interior location in the hull itself or an integral part of the hull.

Boat Liens Database In Michigan

Security interests in state titled boats are recorded with the Michigan secretary of state (https://www.michigan.gov/sos/). These will be shown on both the registration and title certificates if there are any. Security interests in boats that are neither titled or USCG documented are recorded with the Secretary of State as Uniform Commercial Code (UCC) filings. If the vessel is USCG documented, a lender’s security interests will be recorded with the National Vessel Documentation Center (NVDC) and are indexed on the boat’s abstract of title. This is different from state registration lookups and can be ordered at boat-abstract.com.

Tax liens may be flagged on boat registration records, recorded as UCC filings, shown on state revenue records, or filed with a county clerk’s office. There are no provisions for recording mechanic’s liens or other non-secured claims against state titled boats. Uniform Commercial Code searches are available online from the Secretary of State.

Boat title and registration records in Michigan are maintained by the Michigan secretary of state (https://www.michigan.gov/sos/). This agency does facilitate online searches on their website but you can search the boat-alert.com database.

Michigan Boat Registration Lookup

The Boat-Alert.com database combines 72+ nationwide databases into a single place so you can search in a matter of minutes. These include records for stolen boats, marine lien claims, boating accidents, pollution incidents, auctioned boats, factory recalls, and boat manufacturers.

Search a Boat Hull ID history report with Boat-Alert.com
Click to Order a HIN Search

Titling & Registration Requirements in Michigan

  • TITLING
    • REQUIRED: Yes EFFECTIVE DATE : 4/1/1977
    • VESSEL TYPES: All watercraft 20 ft. and over must be titled. Also, all watercraft with a permanently affixed engine, regardless of length, must be tilted. Watercraft not required to be titled may be titled upon request by the owner.
    • EXEMPTIONS: 1. A boat properly registered outside of Michigan temporarily using the waters of this state. 2. A boat owned by a governmental unit (federal, state, or local). 3. A ship’s lifeboat. 4. Watercraft less than 20 feet in length not having a permanently affixed engine. 5. Watercraft documented (registered) by the U.S. Coast Guard. 6. An amphibious vehicle which is titled as a motor vehicle. Amphibious airplanes are also exempt.
    • FEES: Watercraft title fee: $5 Instant title service: an additional $5
    • DUPLICATE FEE: $5 for regular duplicate title (mailed) $10 for instant duplicate title (issued on site)
    • TRANSFER FEE: $5 for regular transfer title (mailed) $10 for instant transfer title (issued on site)
  • REGISTRATION
    • VESSEL TYPES: All watercraft on Michigan waters, including privately-owned lakes and waterways, must be registered and display a decal except those specifically exempt.
    • EXEMPTIONS: 1. Watercraft 16 feet or less, propelled by hand either with oars or paddles, and not used for rental or commercial purposes. NOTES: All sailboats must be registered, regardless of length. All watercraft used by liveries, including paddle boats, must be registered. 2. Non-motorized canoes and kayaks not used for rental or commercial purposes. 3. Watercraft from a foreign country used here temporarily. 4. Watercraft registered in another state in accordance with the U.S. Coast Guard numbering system and used only temporarily in Michigan. (The watercraft would have a number similar to Michigan’s MC number.) NOTE: When a watercraft is moved here and Michigan will be the state of principal use, the out-of-state registration is valid for 60 days (unless expired). 5. Watercraft owned by the U.S. government when used for public service (non-recreational) purposes. The vessel must be clearly identified as such. 6. Rafts, sailboards, surfboards, and swim floats (personal flotation devices). Applies to all lengths. 7. All terrain vehicles not used as a vessel. 8. A ship’s lifeboat.
    • USCG DOCUMENTED VESSELS REQUIRED: Yes
    • NUMBER OF DAYS BEFORE REGISTRATION REQUIRED: Michigan’s statue does not prescribe a number of days: (2) If a vessel is actually numbered in another state of principal use in accordance with a federally approved numbering system, it is in compliance with the numbering requirements of this state while it is temporarily being used in this state. [MCL 324.80122(2)] Michigan watercraft dealers issue a 15-day temporary registration while application for title and registration is in process.
    • FEES:
    • DUPLICATE REGISTRATION FEE: $2
    • DUPLICATE DECAL FEE:
    • TRANSFER FEE: $2 plus prorated fee to update the registration to the current 3-year registration period
    • LATE FEE: No
Infographic Michigan Boat Registration
Infographic Michigan Boat Registration

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