North Carolina Boat Registration

North Carolina Boat Registration History Report

North Carolina 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 North Carolina.

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 boat in North Carolina 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 NC.

Where are North Carolina Boats Registered?

Remember, some states have titling for boats and others do not. North Carolina issues both registrations and titles for all non-exempt boats operating within its jurisdiction. These are administered by the NC STATE Wild Life Commission (NCWL) in Raleigh. This state does not issue titles or registrations for outboard motors but note that Boat trailer registration and titling would be mandatory.

Did you know that 600,000 boats registered in the State of North Carolina make up 6% of all USA vessel registrations?

Boat Registrations by year in the State of North Carolina (source: Nasbla) - Motorized vs. Non motorized recreational boats.
Boat Registrations by year in the State of North Carolina (source: Nasbla) – Motorized vs. Non motorized recreational boats.
Boat Alert History Report · North Carolina Boat Registration

North Carolina Boat Registration Numbers

North Carolina boat registration numbers begin with a “NC”. The NC 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 non-documented at the USCG. Put the NC 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 “NCZare available for home made boats and those without factory designations. Hull number inspections are not required in North Carolina unless there is a discrepancy.

Infographic: North Carolina Boat Registration
Infographic: North Carolina Boat Registration
Order custom Vinyl registration Decal from ebay

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 location on the boat: interior location in the hull itself or an integral part of the hull.

Boat Liens Database In North Carolina

Security interests in state titled boats are recorded with the WRC in NC. 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.

North Carolina Boat Registration Number Search Website

Boat title and registration records in North Carolina are maintained by the Department of Wildlife. This agency does not facilitate online searches on their website.

North Carolina Boat Registration Lookup

The Boat-Alert.com database combines 68+ 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.

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Titling & Registration Requirements in North Carolina

  • TITLING:
    • REEQUIRED: Yes EFFECTIVE DATE : 1/1/1990
    • VESSEL TYPES: Any motorized vessel 14ft or greater and personal watercraft are required to be titled.
    • EXEMPTIONS: any vessel not considered a personal watercraft under 14ft in length and USCG documented vessels are exempt from titling although if they are used on public waters they must be registered.
    • FEES: 1 year transfer or new w/ title less than 26ft = $70 3 year transfer or new w/ title less than 26ft = $130 1 year transfer or new w/ title 26ft or greater = $90 3 year transfer or new w/ title 26ft or greater = $190 1 year transfer or new w/o title (vessels less than 14ft except personal watercraft) = $35 3 year transfer or new w/o title (vessels less than 14ft except personal watercraft) = $95 1 year transfer or new w/o title (vessel 26ft or greater documented with the USCG) = $55 3 year transfer or new w/o title (vessel 26ft or greater documented with the USCG) = $155 Add a title to a vessel = $35 Duplicate title = $35 Duplicate registration = $8 Record Lien on active title = $15 Record Lien/add/activate title = $35
    • DUPLICATE FEE: $15
    • TRANSFER FEE: 1 year transfer or new w/ title less than 26ft = $70 3 year transfer or new w/ title less than 26ft = $130 1 year transfer or new w/ title 26ft or greater = $90 3 year transfer or new w/ title 26ft or greater = $190 1 year transfer or new w/o title (vessels less than 14ft except personal watercraft) = $35 3 year transfer or new w/o title (vessels less than 14ft except personal watercraft) = $95 1 year transfer or new w/o title (vessel 26ft or greater documented with the USCG) = $55 3 year transfer or new w/o title (vessel 26ft or greater documented with the USCG) = $155
  • REGISTRATION:
    • VESSEL TYPES: all motorized vessels operating on public waters including USCG Documented vessels.
    • EXEMPTIONS: Vessels that are unused and kept on dry land do not need registration in North Carolina. Rowboats, canoes, kayaks, and rafts moved only by oars, paddles, or the current do not need registration in North Carolina. A vessel used only on a private pond does not need registration in North Carolina. Ship’s lifeboats or dinghies do not need to be registered if they are used only for emergency lifeboat purposes. However, if they are motorized and used for non-emergency purposes, they do require registration.
    • USCG DOCUMENTED VESSELS REQUIRED: Yes
    • NUMBER OF DAYS BEFORE REGISTRATION REQUIRED: 90 days
    • FEES: 1 year transfer or new w/ title less than 26ft = $70 3 year transfer or new w/ title less than 26ft = $130 1 year transfer or new w/ title 26ft or greater = $90 3 year transfer or new w/ title 26ft or greater = $190 1 year transfer or new w/o title (vessels less than 14ft except personal watercraft) = $35 3 year transfer or new w/o title (vessels less than 14ft except personal watercraft) = $95 1 year transfer or new w/o title (vessel 26ft or greater documented with the USCG) = $55 3 year transfer or new w/o title (vessel 26ft or greater documented with the USCG) = $155
    • DUPLICATE REGISTRATION FEE: $8
    • DUPLICATE DECAL FEE: $8 Duplicate registration comes with a duplicate decal.
    • TRANSFER FEE: See #13 the transfer of a registration and title happens at the same time.
    • LATE FEE: No

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