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New Jersey Boating Requirements


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Feb 14, 2024 - 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 New Jersey. 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

New Jersey issues both registrations and titles for all non-exempt boats operating within its jurisdiction. These are administered through the Motor Vehicle commission in Trenton. Boat transactions are basically handled in the same manner as vehicles although requirements and exemptions may vary. Outboard motors are not titled or registered in New Jersey. Boat trailer registration is required on all trailers and titles are issued for those weighing over 2,000 lbs.

Unless otherwise exempted, boat registration is required in New Jersey on all power and sail boats over 12' in length. Motorized boats under 12' such as jet skis must also be registered. Registration is required for Coast Guard documented vessels. A complete list of exemptions may be found by visiting the MVC website.

There are approximately 133,463 boats registered in the State of New Jersey. This accounts for 1.1% of all nationwide registrations.

Numbering and Marking

New Jersey boat registration numbers begin with an "NJ" 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 "NJZ" are available for home made boats and those without factory designations. Boats must be inspected by a New Jersey law enforcement official if there is a discrepancy with the hull identification number.

Recording Methods

New Jersey issues titles on all registered boats except for those which are Coast Guard Documented. This state does not have provisions for bonded boat titles or conditional boat registrations where sufficient proof of ownership is not otherwise available. In these cases, an award of ownership must be obtained from a court of proper jurisdiction. New Jersey has procedures for titling abandoned boats.

Security interests in state titled boats are recorded with the Motor Vehicle Commission. These will be shown on both the registration and title certificates when applicable. All titles with active security interests are sent directly to the secured party. Security interests in boats that are neither titled or USCG documented are recorded with the Secretary of State as Uniform Commercial Code (UCC) filings.

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.

If the vessel is USCG documented, a lender's security interest must be perfected by filing a preferred vessel mortgage. These are recorded with the National Vessel Documentation Center and priority is attained according to the date filed. Other maritime liens can be filed in the same manner although they function as notifications only. All mortgage and lien filings are indexed on the vessel's underlying abstract of title.

Record Searches

New Jersey boat title, registration, and lien records are maintained in a database administered by the Motor Vehicle Commission. Insights on how to go about conducting searches and obtaining record copies can be found in WikiTags.

Uniform Commercial Code searches are available online from the Secretary of State. However, if there are any suspected state or federal tax liens, it may be advisable to use a public record vendor as they have a much broader access to such filings.

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 in New Jersey. Visit the Department of Taxation link in WikiTags for specific information about boats.

New Jersey does not require liability insurance for boats operating on their waters.

Operating and Safety

Boat operator licensing is required in New Jersey. All boat and PWC operators must pass a boater safety course and to carry a boater 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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Feb 14, 2024 - Page revised.



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