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North Dakota 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 North Dakota. 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

North Dakota is a boat registration only state and does not issue titles. Registrations for all non-exempt boats operating within their jurisdiction are administered by the Game and Fish Department in Bismarck. This state does not issue titles or registrations for outboard motors. Boat trailer registrations and titles are not issued in North Dakota.

Unless otherwise exempt, boat registration in North Dakota is required on all motorized boats. USCG documented boats are exempt from registration. Visit their boat registration website for a complete list of requirements and exemptions. This state does not have provisions for bonded or conditional boat registrations. in cases where there is insufficient proof of ownership, it will be necessary to petition a local court of law for an award of ownership.

There are approximately 57,806 boats registered in the State of North Dakota. This accounts for 0.5% of all nationwide registrations.

Numbering and Marking

Boat registration numbers in North Dakota begin with an "ND" 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 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. Owners with older boats may apply with the Marine Police Division for a hull number assignment. State assigned hull numbers prefixed with the letters "NDZ" are available for home made boats and those without factory designations. North Dakota does not require boat hull number inspections.

Recording Methods

North Dakota is a registration only state and does not issue boat titles. Registration certificates may however serve as quasi-proof of ownership unless the vessel is USCG documented. Security interests non-titled and non-documented boats are therefore recorded through Uniform Commercial Code filings.

Tax liens are sometimes flagged in the state's registration database, 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 registered boats which are not USCG documented.

If the vessel is USCG documented, a security interest is 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 registration records in North Dakota are maintained in a database which is administered by the Game and Fish Department. Access to such records is available to owners, qualified parties and the general public. Insights on how to go about registration lookups or obtain record printouts and historical data can be found in WikiTags.

North Dakota is a registration only state and does not issue boat titles. Security interests in non-documented boats are accordingly filed with the Secretary of State as Uniform Commercial Code recordings. Online UCC searches are not available from their website but can be obtained from a county recorder's office or public record vendor.

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 UCC 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 or use tax applies to boats in North Dakota. Visit the State Tax Commissioner website link in WikiTags for further information.

The State of North Dakota does not require boat liability insurance for boats operating on its waters.

Operating and Safety

North Dakota requires all boat operators who are 12 to 15 years old and will be operating a PWC or boat 10 hp or more to pass a boater safety course and to carry a boater education card.

Transfers of ownership, abandonments, destructions, and thefts must be reported within 15 days.


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.

Credits and References

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

4/4/2022 - Page reviewed by Team BoatWiki.



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