Where to Place Registration Numbers on a Pontoon Boat?

Just like a car needs a license plate, so too does a pontoon boat need to have its registration numbers on display. This just makes it easier for authorities to identify your boat, in case that becomes necessary. It also tells onlookers that hey, my boat has been duly registered!

But just like a car that has a designated place for its plates, a pontoon boat also has to have its registration numbers visible on a specific part of the boat. Wondering where to place registration numbers on a pontoon boat? Follow this easy guide.

Where Should Your Registration Numbers Go?

The purpose of a registration number is that it identifies who owns your boat. This can be immensely helpful in instances of theft, or if your boat is involved in any sort of accident. One interesting thing about boat registration is that if your

Similar to most other pontoon boat requirements and regulations, registration number placement varies from state to state. So it would be wise to look into your specific jurisdiction’s requirements when it comes to the specifics of your registration number placement.

But even then, a lot of them overlap when it comes to the basics. For the most part, your boat registration numbers should be secured on both sides of the bow or the front part of the boat. Other than that, they should also be:

  • Clearly visible
  • Written in block letters
  • Written in characters at least 3 inches tall
  • Need to be written in characters that contrast against the background
  • Separated by a space or hyphen the same width of a letter or number between the state code and the registration number

And this is where things get pretty hairy. When you think of your pontoon boat, you’ll realize that you don’t really have a bow to speak of. Well, of course, your boat has a front side. But without a traditional bow the same way that other boats have, you might feel a little flustered as to where exactly you should put the numbers even with these guidelines.

However a lot of boat owners have detailed their problem-free registration number placement by simply following the guidelines to the best of their understanding. As long as it’s visible, placed towards the front half of the boat, and written in clear, contrasting characters that are at least 3 inches tall, there shouldn’t be too much of an issue.

State-Specific Regulations for Registration Numbers on Pontoons

Most boat owners would assert though that most states aren’t too specific when it comes to registration number placement on a pontoon boat. What’s important is that they’re visible and they’re located in relatively the same area as specified. However there are a few notable exceptions.

For instance, in Michigan, boat registration numbers need to be visible from a distance. In some states, the numbers need to be readable from a distance of 50 feet.

In terms of the registration number itself, it can be painted on the side of the hull or attached via a plate. Some pontoon boat owners with black watercrafts choose to use a clear plexiglass plate with the numbers printed on in silver or white just so it doesn’t interfere with the boat’s aesthetics.

If you’re not keen on having a plexiglass plate or a metal plate customized, you could always just paint the registration numbers on. Of course, the downside to this would be that you’d have to constantly repaint the registration numbers over the years since they’d always have to be visible.

And then of course, the registration decal should be aligned with the numbers. The sticker can be placed either before the registration number or after it. The purpose of the decal is to inform law enforcement that your registration is up to date.

If you’re still not entirely sure where to place them, most boat owners have found success just attaching their registration number plates just above their tubes. Just make sure you follow the basic guidelines and you should be in the clear.

But what happens if your registration number is attached or painted on the wrong way? Well, fortunately, the penalties aren’t too crazy. If there’s an error with how you’ve affixed the registration number, the worst thing that could happen is that they’d tell you to remove it and replace it the right way.

A Place for Everything, and Everything In Its Place

First time boat owners typically don’t know where to place registration numbers on a pontoon boat which could potentially lead to problems on the water. So before you set out on that pontoon trip, see to it that you have your registration numbers readily visible. This won’t only let authorities know of your registration status, but should also give you a problem-free excursion.