Pennsylvania Boat Registration

Pennsylvania Boat Registration History Report

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.

Pennsylvania 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 Pennsylvania. 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 Pennsylvania 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 PA.

Where are Pennsylvania Boats Registered?

Remember, some states have titling for boats and others do not. Pennsylvania issues both registrations and titles for all non-exempt boats operating within its jurisdiction. These are administered by the PA STATE Fish and Boat Commission (PAFBC). 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 300,000 boats registered in the State of Pennsylvania make up 2.6% of all USA vessel registrations?

Chart: Pennsylvania Recreational Vessel Registration Counts by year
Chart: Pennsylvania Recreational Vessel Registration Counts by year

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

Podcast: Pennsylvania boat titles

Pennsylvania Boat Registration Numbers

Pennsylvania boat registration numbers begin with a “PA”. The PA 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 PA 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 “PAZ” are available for home made boats and those without factory designations. Hull number inspections are not required in Pennsylvania 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 location on the boat: interior location in the hull itself or an integral part of the hull.

Infographic Pennsylvania HIN Search
Infographic: Pennsylvania HIN Search

Boat Liens Database In Pennsylvania

Security interests in state titled boats are recorded with the Fish and Boat Commission (PAFBC) in PA. 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 Pennsylvania are maintained by the PAFBC. This agency does not facilitate online searches on their website but you can search the boat-alert.com database.

Pennsylvania Boat Registration Lookup

The Boat-Alert.com database combines 70+ 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 Report

Titling & Registration Requirements in Pennsylvania

  • TITLING
    • REQUIRED: Yes EFFECTIVE DATE : 7/2/1996
    • VESSEL TYPES: 1. Boats purchased, transferred, or sold after March 1, 1998, must be titled if the boat is: Powered by an inboard engine (regardless of length), including personal watercraft, 1997 model year or newer. Powered by an outboard motor, 14 foot in length or longer, and 1997 model year or newer. Currently titled in Pennsylvania. Currently titled in another state when Pennsylvania becomes the state of principal use.
    • EXEMPTIONS: Documented vessels unpowered boats boats less than 14 foot in length
    • FEES: $15.00 Titling fee $5.00 Lienholder $15.00 Title Correction
    • DUPLICATE FEE: $5
    • TRANSFER FEE: $15.00 Titling fee $ 5.00 Lienholder
  • REGISTRATION
    • VESSEL TYPES: 1. Boats that must be registered include: Motorboats, including boats equipped with electric motors Boats (powered and unpowered) used at PFBC lakes or access areas. Please Note: Owners of non-powered boats have the option to obtain a Use (Launch) Permit. Documented vessels used for recreational purposes Boats registered in other states when PA becomes the state of principal use; a boat must be registered in PA within 60 days
    • EXEMPTIONS: The following boats are required to be registered but are exempt from titling and registration fees: 1. Motorboats owned or operated by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. 2. Motorboats owned by public service organizations approved by the Commission and used exclusively for training, education, water safety and other public service functions. 3. Although registration is not required for the entities listed below registration fees are exempt. Motorboats, owned by political subdivisions and quasi-public organizations, such as police departments, volunteer fire departments and river rescue units, and used exclusively in the performance of their work in enforcement, furthering safety and search and rescue on the water.
    • USCG DOCUMENTED VESSELS REQUIRED: Yes
    • NUMBER OF DAYS BEFORE REGISTRATION REQUIRED: 60 days
    • FEES: $22 – Unpowered boat $26 – Powered Boats Under 16 feet $39 – Powered Boats 16 feet to less than 20 feet $52 – Powered Boats 20 feet and over
    • DUPLICATE REGISTRATION FEE: $3
    • DUPLICATE DECAL FEE: $3.00 since you will receive a registration card with the request for the duplicate decal.
    • TRANSFER FEE: The holder of a valid Pennsylvania registration on a boat may transfer the remaining period of time on the current registration to a newly acquired boat (new or used). There is a $5.00 transfer fee for processing newly acquired applications, plus any difference in registration fees myst also be paid and applicable sales tax must be paid.
    • LATE FEE: No

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