Arizona Boat Registration Tips

boat on water

Even though Arizona is a desert state, it still boasts a wide range of bodies of water for you to enjoy. There are over 128 lakes and 5 major rivers that you can swim, boat, and fish in. One of the most exciting activities is rafting the Grand Canyon on either a motorized or oar-powered raft. 

Spending time on the water is a good reason to invest in a new boat. However, you’ll still need to get the vessel registered, even if it’s a small dinghy. 

Here are some Arizona boat registration tips and how much the process will cost you. 

How To Register Boat

In Arizona, all motorboat owners need to get a registration number for their watercraft before putting it on the water. This rule applies to vessels of all sizes and with any type of motor, and even includes rafts, sailboats, and canoes with motors.

The only exception to this Arizona boat registration requirement is for watercraft used only as lifeboats and those documented by the US Coast Guard.

To register a boat, you need to file a Watercraft Registration Application with the Arizona Game & Fish Department. This form must be completed for a new Arizona boat registration and a transfer of ownership.

Besides the application, registering a boat in Arizona requires you to provide proof of ownership. Keep in mind that Arizona is a registration-only state, so you don’t have to worry about registering a boat in Arizona with no title.

Lastly, you’ll need to pay the appropriate registration fee, which we’ll discuss in a bit. These materials can be submitted by mail or in person at a department office.

If you’re registering an out-of-state boat in Arizona, you’ll also need the original title (if coming from a title state) or original registration (if coming from a registration state). It must be signed by the previous owner, or you can use a bill of sale if you bought the boat from a dealer.

Do I Need to Register a Boat Trailer?

You must register any trailer you use, whether it’s for commercial purposes or for home use. A boat trailer is no different, even if it’s only used for carrying that boat. 

Trailers in Arizona are registered based on how they’re used and how much weight they can carry. For example, a non-commercial one that has a gross vehicle weight of under 10,000 registers as “permanent”. Commercial ones register on a multiple-year basis. 

Registered trailers are given a 17-character Vehicle Identification Number (VIN). It’s legally required in Arizona for the VIN to be clearly on display at all times. Any identifying numbers that have been altered or defaced can be restored with a new identifier. 

The inspection to get a VIN is done by a representative who will then place a decal certifying its eligibility. The trailer owner must then fill out an application stating whether it was purchased or built, and how it was built. 

Arizona Boat Registration Costs

The cost to register a boat in Arizona varies depending on its size. As long as it has a motor, you’ll need to register it and pay the fee. 

Keep in mind that vessels registered in another state can operate in Arizona for a limited time before you need to get an updated number or decal. You have 60 or fewer days to register it. All new watercraft registrations last for a year, or 12 months. 

Additionally, you can document larger recreational vessels with the USCG. This is optional, but it may provide you with a higher level of security in case of theft.  


Arizona boat registration costs for Arizona residents range from $20 to $66, depending on the size of your motorized craft. Motor boat measurements go from the tip of the bow to the stern of the boat. It does not include attachments such as outboard motors. 

Between 0 and 12 feet, you can expect to pay $20. This includes a dinghy or some kind of small fishing boat. 

A boat larger than 12 feet but under 16 feet will cost you $22. 

The prices are as follows:

  • 0 – 12 feet: $20
  • 12 feet, 1 inch – 16 feet: $22
  • 16 feet, 1 inch – 20 feet: $30
  • 20 feet, 1 inch – 26 feet: $35
  • 26 feet, 1 inch – 39 feet: $39
  • 39 feet, 1 inch – 64 feet: $44
  • 64 feet, 1 inch and over: $66

The size ranges end up varying more in the higher ends, but the prices don’t get that expensive. A boat four to five times larger than a 16-foot one will only cost you about three times the cost to register it. 

If all you’re registering is a dinghy or a small fishing boat, then you’ll most likely only need to pay $20 or $22. A much larger yacht will most likely cost you over $66 to register. 


Nonresidents must pay an additional non-resident boater safety infrastructure fee (NBSIF) in addition to the registration costs as follows:

  • 0 12 feet: $20 + $80 NBSIF fee
  • 12 feet, 1 inch 16 feet: $22 + $88 NBSIF fee
  • 16 feet, 1 inch 20 feet: $30 + $192 NBSIF fee
  • 20 feet, 1 inch 26 feet: $35 + $224 NBSIF fee
  • 26 feet, 1 inch 39 feet: $39 + $253 NBSIF fee
  • 39 feet, 1 inch 64 feet: $44 + $286 NBSIF fee
  • 64 feet, 1 inch and over: $66 $429 NBSIF fee

As you can see, the prices scale much higher for non-residents. A person paying to register their dinghy will have to pay much more than a resident. Yacht owners also have to pay just under $500 to register their vehicles. 

Keep in mind that non-residents can operate on Arizona waterways for up to 90 days every year without registering in the state. It’s recommended that you only register as a non-resident if you’re planning to spend more time than that in Arizona. You could also sign the boat over to someone you know in the area if you want to avoid the NBSIF. 

Arizona Boat Registration Tips and Assistance

One of the best Arizona boat registration tips you’ll get is to apply in advance. It could take up to 30 days for transactions through the mail to go through, and you only have up to 60 days to use an unregistered boat. Prices will vary with boat size, but it’s not that expensive as long as you’re a resident. 

GG&D Motor Vehicle Services, LLC can help you with all your needs for titles, registrations, and more. Our driver services also include insurance verification, notary public, and disability plate or placard acquisition. 

Visit one of our locations to get help with your boat registration and contact us with any questions. 


GG&D provides complete full service vehicle registration & title services. Driver License & ID Services available at all GG&D locations.


GG&D Motor Vehicle Services, LLC was a founding member of the 3rd Party Motor Vehicle Association. We offer vehicle title transfers, license plate replacement, motor vehicle registration, duplicate titles, notary services, temporary permits and other MVD Arizona services. GG&D has locations in Phoenix, Glendale, and Mesa. Find a location near you!

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