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Idaho Boating Requirements


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This summary is designed to inform the boating public about title options, registration requirements, recording methods, record searches, tax rules, and operational guidelines for the State of Idaho. The data is maintained as an open wiki forum where readers are encouraged to participate by sharing knowledge and experiences with this particular jurisdiction. Simply click on the above "WikiShare" link to contribute further details or suggest a revision.

Registration and Titling

Idaho issues boat registrations and titles for all non-exempt boats operating within their jurisdiction. These are administered through the Department of Parks and Recreation in Boise. Outboard motors are not titled or registered in Idaho. Boat trailer registrations are handled through the Division of Motor Vehicles. Titling is required on boat trailers weighing over 2,000 lbs.

All boats must be registered in Idaho except those which are manually powered and sailboards. Coast Guard documented boats are exempt from registration. Idaho has provisions for conditional boat registrations. Titling is required in Idaho for any vessel with a permanently attached mode of propulsion and model year 2000 or newer (for example: inboards, stern drives, personal watercraft and sailboats). Vessels over 12 feet in length with an outboard motor must also be titled. Coast Guard documented boats are exempt from titling requirements.

Idaho has provisions for bonded boat titles when there is insufficient proof of ownership.

There are approximately 90,290 boats registered in the State of Idaho. This accounts for 0.8% of all nationwide registrations.

Numbering and Marking

Boat registration numbers in Idaho begin with an "ID" designation which is followed by four numbers and then two letters. These must be displayed on all non-documented boats along with registration sticker tabs. Coast Guard documented vessels may not display the state registration numbers. However they must display the state registration tabs, an owner designated vessel name, and a hailing port. An official documentation number must also be affixed to a visible interior location in the hull itself or an integral part of the hull. All vessels 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 "IDZ" are available for home made boats and those without factory designations. A hull identification number inspection by an Idaho law enforcement official is required on all first time boat registrations.

Recording Methods

Security interests in titled boats are recorded with the Division of Motor vehicles. These will be shown on both the registration certificate and title when applicable. All titles with active security interests are sent directly to the secured party. Security interests non-titled and non-documented boats must be recorded as Uniform Commercial Code filings.

Tax liens are sometimes flagged in the state's registration database or perhaps recorded as Uniform Commercial Code filings. There are no provisions for recording mechanic's liens or other non-secured claims against registered boats which are not documented.

If the vessel is USCG documented, a lender's security interest may be perfected by filing a preferred vessel mortgage. These are recorded with the National Vessel Documentation Center with the earliest submissions taking priority. Other lien claims can be filed in the same manner although these function as notifications only. All such filings are indexed on the vessel's underlying abstract of title.

Record Searches

Boat title and registration records in Idaho are maintained by the Department of Motor Vehicles. These are integrated into the vehicle database system. Insights on how to go about accessing boat title, registration and historical data in Idaho can be found in the WikiTags for this page.

State and Federal tax liens on boats are not always recorded in a consistent manner and are therefore difficult to identify. They may show up as a red flag on state registration records, as Uniform Commercial Code filings, in state revenue records, in a county clerks records, or on a vessel's abstract of title for documented boats. Given these disparities, it may be worth obtaining the services of a public record vendor that has access to a broad range of personal property lien recordings.

Ownership, mortgage, and lien search recordings for USCG documented vessels can be obtained by ordering an abstract of title and a copy of the certificate of documentation from the National Vessel Documentation Center.

Taxes and Insurance

Sales and use taxes apply to boat transactions within this state. Visit the State Tax Commission link in WikiTags for detailed information.

Liability insurance is not required for boats operating on Idaho waters.

Operating and Safety

The transfer, abandonment, theft, or destruction of an Idaho registered boat must be reported to the Department of Motor Vehicles within 15 days.

Idaho does not require boater education or licensing for boat operators, except for PWC renters. Those who rent PWCs are required to carry the Idaho verification of education card.


The information contained herein is subject to change without notice and may contain errors or omissions. Be sure to check with the respective government agency before taking action on any such data. More detailed information about all of these topics can be found in the above WikiTags.

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3/29/2022 - Page initiated by Team BoatWiki.



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