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Frank A. Douglass Insurance Agency

Watercraft licenses expire next month

Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson is reminding boaters to renew their watercraft licenses. Not everyone will have to get their paperwork in order by March 31st, as the licenses are issued on a three-year cycle. For those that find themselves needing to complete the proper documentation, it is recommended that you do so online or at a self-service station.

Michigan has nearly 800,000 licensed watercraft, challenging for the most in the country for any state. Kayaks, canoes, and other smaller non motorized craft are not required to register.


Ahead of this year’s boating season, Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson reminds watercraft users to renew their registrations online or at a self-service station.

“Customers can renew their watercraft registration from the safety and comfort of their home on our website or at one of the many self-service stations located across our state,” Benson said. “As we roll out upgrades to our online services this spring, customers will find it even more convenient to do business with the Secretary of State.”

Customers can visit Michigan.gov/SOS, click the link for online services, and chose from two options for renewing watercraft:

  • An online express option for quick renewals.
  • An online authenticated renewal process, which allows customers to access their customer record and conduct other transactions along with their watercraft renewal. They also may print a copy of their renewed registration.

Michigan residents can also locate a self-service station at Michigan.gov/SOS by clicking the link for self service stations.

Watercraft registrations are renewed on a three-year cycle and expire on March 31 of the third year. The Department of State will send out approximately 248,523 renewal notices to boat owners this spring. There are 797,706 registered watercrafts on file with the Secretary of State.

All watercraft, including those on privately owned lakes and waterways, must be registered except for the following:

  • Watercraft 16 feet or less, propelled by oars or paddles that aren’t used for rental or commercial purposes.
  • Nonmotorized canoes and kayaks not used for rental or commercial purposes.
  • Rafts, surfboards, sailboards and swim floats, regardless of length.
  • Watercraft registered in another state and used only temporarily in Michigan.

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