Does My Jon Boat Need to Be Registered? Rules State by State

Jon boat that's been painted yellow on the water

You’ve just become the proud owner of a jon boat but are now wondering if you have to register it. In this article, I’ll tell you which states require registration and which ones don’t.

Do jon boats need to be registered? Whether a jon boat must be registered varies by state as well as the status of the boat. Typically, if your jon boat is nonmotorized, then you needn’t register and title it. Motorized jon boats will often require both a title and registration.

Ahead, I’ll tell you everything you need to know about registering your jon boat, including whether it’s free and how long the registration lasts. Before you venture out on your jon boat, you must read this!

Do Jon Boats Need to Be Registered?

There is no one hard and fast answer regarding whether a jon boat must be registered, as the rules vary from state to state throughout the United States. I’ll go over those rules in just a moment.

The overarching rule is this: if your jon boat has no motor and requires oars, paddles, or other forms of manual effort to propel you, then you don’t have to bother registering the boat. 

For those jon boats that have some sort of motor, be it a long-tail motor or a surface-drive motor, then you often have to get the boat registered and sometimes titled as well.

Allow me to explain the difference between registration and a title for a moment. 

A titled jon boat, much like a titled car, proves that you own the boat. 

Registering your jon boat means that you’ve taken the proper precautions to get your boat officially registered with the state you call home for its intended use, being in the water. 

Jon Boat Registration Rules State by State


Nonmotorized jon boats needn’t be registered in Alabama, but a motorized boat must be. You can register the boat on a county rather than state level.

You don’t have to title your jon boat. 


In Alaska, you don’t have to title an undocumented boat that’s 24 feet long or shorter, and you don’t have to register nonmotorized jon boats.

You must register a motorized jon boat. 


Although titles and registration are two separate documents, in Arizona, they’re treated the same. 

Even still, you have to get your jon boat registered if it’s motorized, but nonmotorized boats need not apply. 


Arkansas is another state that doesn’t do titles, but that doesn’t mean you can wriggle free of registration.

Your jon boat must be registered if it’s motorized. 


Motorized boats that exceed eight feet long require registration in California while nonmotorized boats (with the exception of sailboats that are over eight feet) do not. 

You’ll also have to get your jon boat titled in California if it was produced in 1997 or later, measures 14 feet and up, and uses an outboard motor. 

Titling is also required for boats from 1997 or later that have an inbound motor. 


Colorado only requires boat registration, not titles. Nonmotorized jon boats don’t need to be registered while motorized boats do. 


If your motorized jon boat is at least 19 ½ feet long or longer, then you need to both title and register it in Connecticut. Those rules do not apply for nonmotorized boats. 


Like many other states on the list so far, Delaware skips the titles. Your jon boat must still be registered if it has a motor. 


If you plan to enter the public waterways in Florida with your motorized jon boat, it better have both a registration and a title. You can skip both to nonmotorized boats. 


In Georgia, a nonmotorized boat does not need registration while a motorized boat does. 


As a non-title state, Hawaii only requires registrations for jon boats that have a motor.


Idahoans must title and register a motorized jon boat. You needn’t register a nonmotorized boat, and titling that boat is optional. 


Unless yours is a nonmotorized vessel that’s only used in private waterways as well as a kayak, a canoe, or a sailboard, then you need to register it in Illinois.

Whether you have to title your jon boat is a different story. If the boat is smaller than 22 feet long, then you can skip the titling unless you really want to. 


Once you register a boat in Indiana, the boat is then titled as well. This is required of all motorized boats only. 


In Iowa, the only boats that can skip registration are conventional kayaks and canoes under 13 feet long and sail-less, nonmotorized inflatable boats measuring seven feet or less. 

You’ll have to get your jon boat titled too if it exceeds 17 feet long. 


Kansas requires you to get your jon boat both numbered and registered in the state if it’s motorized, but no titles are required. 


A motorized jon boat must be titled and registered in Kentucky, and those are two separate processes. You can pass on registering a nonmotorized boat. 


Motorized jon boats in Louisiana require registration. You’ll have to get your boat titled if its outboard motor can reach at least 25 horsepower. 


Maine is another state that doesn’t do boat titles, which puts all the more emphasis on registering your boat.

A motorized boat of any kind, including jon boats, must be registered. 


You must title and register a motorized jon boat in Maryland, but the same does not apply to nonmotorized boats. 


It’s much the same case in the state of Massachusetts. A motorized boat of any kind requires registration. 

Titling is an automatic process that comes with your registration, so you kill two birds with one stone. 


In Michigan, if your jon boat has a motor, then it must be registered. The boat requires a title if it measures over 20 feet long.

You don’t have to register a nonmotorized jon boat in Michigan if the boat is under 16 feet long. 


If yours is a duck hunting jon boat, even if it’s motorized, then you might be able to skip the registration in Minnesota.

However, that only applies during the active duck hunting season. 

For all other types of jon boats with a motor, you must register them. 

You have to title a boat in Minnesota if it’s over 16 feet long. 


In Mississippi, titling your jon boat is optional but registering it is not if the boat has a motor. That does not apply to nonmotorized jon boats. 


A motorized jon boat needs both a registration and a title in Missouri while a nonmotorized boat requires neither. 


The same rules as in Missouri apply in Montana as well, so be sure to get your motorized jon boat registered and titled. 


A motorized jon boat needs to be registered in Nebraska. If the boat was produced after November 1st, 1972, then you also must have a Certificate of Title.

Newer boats do not require a title even if they are motorized, and nonmotorized jon boats don’t need a title or registration. 


In Nevada, your jon boat must be titled and registered if it’s motorized. Boats without a motor can go without.  

New Hampshire

In New Hampshire, there’s no need to title a boat, but any motorized jon boat that you’ll use in the state must be registered.  

New Jersey

New Jersey requires all boats that will enter the state’s waterways to have both an active registration and title. 

That applies to motorized and nonmotorized jon boats alike, a rare exception to most state rules. 

New Mexico

If your jon boat is motorized, then New Mexico law requires that you register it. 

You have to title the boat as well if it’s over 10 feet long. 

New York

Motorized boats of all sorts, including fuel-driven and electric motors, require registration in the state of New York. Nonmotorized boats do not. 

North Carolina

Registering a motorized jon boat in North Carolina is a given, but sometimes nonmotorized boats must be registered as well.

That’s the case if the boat measures more than 14 feet and will be used in public waters. 

North Dakota

You’ll have to contact the North Dakota Game and Fish Department to get your jon boat registered in this state if it’s motorized. You’ll then be issued a certificate. 

North Dakota is a non-title state.  


If yours is classified as a recreational boat, then regardless of whether it’s motorized, you have to register the boat in Ohio.

Titles are required for boats over 14 feet with an outboard motor that reaches or exceeds 10 horsepower. 


A motorized jon boat that exceeds 10 horsepower needs to be both registered and titled in Oklahoma. Nonmotorized jon boats need neither. 


In Oregon, you must get your jon boat registered and titled if it’s motorized, but a nonmotorized jon boat can skip both processes. 


If you plan on using your nonmotorized jon boat in a state forest, a state park, or a lake or access area managed by the Fish & Boat Commission, then Pennsylvania law requires you to register that boat.

Of course, motorized jon boats require registration as well. 

Rhode Island

A motorized jon boat needs to be registered in Rhode Island. 

Jon boats, along with documented vessels, rowboats, surfboards, nonmotorized inflatable boats, and boats smaller than 14 feet don’t require a title. 

South Carolina

In South Carolina, you need both a Carolina Certificate of Number registration and a title for a motorized jon boat. 

If you’ve registered a boat in another country or state or if the boat is nonmotorized, then you can skip the registration. 

South Dakota

A nonmotorized jon boat that exceeds 18 feet must be numbered and registered, and that applies to all motorized jon boats in South Dakota as well. 

You do not have to number or register a nonmotorized jon boat if it’s under 18 feet, however. You would need a validation sticker instead. 


In Tennessee, you have to register your boat regardless of its motorized status, but the state does not issue titles. 


Texas requires motorized jon boats to be registered and titled, but some nonmotorized boats need both registration and title too.

That applies to any nonmotorized boat that is longer than 14 feet. 


You must get a jon boat registered in Utah if it’s motorized. Boats produced after 1985 must be titled as well. 

If you registered your jon boat in another state and you’ll only be in Utah for 60 days or fewer, then you can skip the Utah license. However, your boat must still be licensed. 


In Vermont, your motorized jon boat must be registered. You’ll have to title it if the boat is 16 feet and up and if it’s 15 years or newer. 

You don’t have to register a nonmotorized jon boat. 


You must have a clearly visible Certificate of Number registration for a motorized boat in Virginia, and don’t forget to receive your certificate of title as well.

Nonmotorized jon boats need neither. 


In Washington, a motorized jon boat needs a registration certificate and a title. A nonmotorized boat that’s less than 16 feet long doesn’t need either, but a longer boat may. 

West Virginia

When you register a motorized jon boat in West Virginia, you’ll receive a decal with a West Virginia Certificate of Number. You must display this on your boat.

You also need a title for a motorized jon boat if you bought it in West Virginia after July 1st, 1989.  


Motorized jon boats require registration in Wisconsin while nonmotorized boats do not.

If your boat, motorized or not, is over 16 feet, then you must have a Certificate of Title as well. 


To enter Wyoming’s public waterways, a motorized jon boat should be registered. All motorized boats need a title as of January 1st, 2010.

How Much Does It Cost to Register Your Jon Boat?

Per the information above, you realized that you have to register your jon boat. How much is it going to cost you to do this?

Well, that information–just as the registration rules do–varies by state. 

More so than that, how much you’ll pay to register your jon boat depends on the size of the boat. 

For instance, smaller boats are more inexpensive to register than larger boats. quotes the average price of registering a boat as between $25 and $250. 

I recommend looking up the information in your state so you have a clear-cut idea of what you’ll pay.

How Long Does Jon Boat Registration Last?

You’ve paid to get your jon boat registered and perhaps even titled too. Now it’s officially ready for venturing out into the waters near you. 

The registration will not last forever, but the terms again depend on the state you call home.

In some states, you’ll have to register your jon boat every single year, which can get expensive. 

Your registration may last upwards of two years or even three years in other states. 

Ideally, before your jon boat registration expires, you should contact the DMV or Fish and Boat Commission or whichever official body you registered with and register again.

This way, there’s no lapse in your active registration. 

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