The Boating Pre-Season February 18, 2021

It’s February already!  In just a few days, the 18-wheeler will depart Fenway Park loaded up with mitts, bats and baseballs and head for Fort Myers.  Soon, pitchers and catchers will report, then the position players and we’ll begin to see what kind of a team we have this year.

Oh, yeah, it’s also pre-season for boaters.  And that means it’s time to run down the check list of things to do before the ice melts and the warm weather sets in.

First on the list should be updating your boat registration with the state. You might not have noticed, but when the ball dropped in Times Square on New Year’s Eve, your boat registration with the state expired.  Don’t take it personally … every boat registration expires on Dec. 31st.

So job one is getting the paperwork together and sending in your registration renewal application, along with a check for the proper amount of taxes and fees. New Hampshire may not have a sales or income tax, but it does have a boater’s tax.

Here’s what you need:

  • A completed boat registration renewal application. You can download the form from the state DMV here.
  • Proof of ownership.  This usually includes a bill of sale, or the previous year’s registration.
  • Proof of citizenship.  Your NH driver’s license works.
  • Verification of the vessel’s identification.  Every boat over 12 feet has an assigned Hull Identification Number (HIN), a 12-digit number affixed to the bow. 
  • A check for the right amount.

How much?

An original or renewal registration cost is based on the length of your boat.

  • 16 ft or less: $24.
  • 16.1 to 21 ft: $34.
  • 21.1 to 30 ft: $52.
  • 30.1 to 45 ft: $72.
  • 45.1 ft and longer: $92.

Then there’s the “boat fee” which some people call the boat tax. Whatever you call it, this fee is also based on the length, and the age, of your boat. Here’s the link to the state page that breaks it all down in dollars and cents.  The minimum fee is $10, which probably covers the fee for your Crocs, if you tossed them overboard and called them a boat.

But wait…there’s more!  The state of New Hampshire also asks the generous boaters of the state to kick in a few bucks for some good causes and environmental programs. So your registration fees will include:

  • Lake restoration and preservation (all registrations): $9.50.
  • Fish and Game Department search and rescue fund (all registrations): $1.
  • Registering with an authorized boat agent: $5.
  • Public boat access fund (all registrations): $5.
  • Vessels using tidal or coastal waters: $2.


There are some exemptions to the rules. You don’t have to pay registration fees for sailboats less than 12 feet in length overall or any boat less than 10 feet in length. Other exemptions are for:

  • Vessels propelled exclusively by oars or paddles.
  • Rowboats and canoes powered by sail or human power
  • Watercraft registered in another state or country using NH waters for 30 consecutive days or less.
  • Vessels owned or operated by the U.S. government.

Where to Register:

You can gather up all your paperwork and take it in person to any DMV office in the state for processing. (Some of those offices have drop boxes where you can just drop in your paperwork and wait for the annual decal to be mailed to you).

You can also mail in your paperwork here:

NH Dept. of Safety

DMV – Boat Registrations

23 Hazen Drive

Concord, NH 03305

Stop in to our office at the boat yard in Gilford and let us help guide you through the process. Don’t want to drop in, contact us by phone, text or email.

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