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Boating FAQs 

How long is my registration and decals good for?

Watercraft, motorized craft, registration and decals expire every three years on June 30th and need to be renewed.


How can I renew my registration?

This can be done online or by phone by calling 1-866-867-3542.  All you will need to register is the following information:  Illinois registration number, fist 6 charters of the Hull Identification number, the first 3 letters of the registered owner’s last name, and your credit card.   It’s important to write the confirmation number down for your records. This is fast and simple.


I did not get a confirmation number when I renewed online, how can I verify that it went through?

Unfortunately, if you pass the area of the website that displays the confirmation number, it won’t let you go back. Please wait 14 days and call DNR watercraft.


The watercraft I just purchased still has a current registration, can I continue to use it until it expires?

NO, you will be breaking the law.  You must make application to the Dept. for reg/titling within 15 days of purchase.


How do I register a brand new never owned boat I just bought?

The dealer who you purchased the boat from will be able to process the paperwork for you.  


How do I register a boat I bought that was already registered in Illinois?

You must complete the Watercraft Registration/Title Application.  You will check the Transfer Renewal  box and complete the rest of the form.  

Things that you will need to submit:

1. A title signed over to you by the former owner, just like you would a car.
2. Illinois Dept. of Revenue form RUT - 25 and pay tax if due.
3. A check for tax made out to the Illinois Department of Revenue.
4. A check for the correct registration fee made out to the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.


How do I register a boat that I bought that was registered in another State?  

You must complete the Watercraft Registration/Title Application.  You will check the Transfer Renewal  box and complete the rest of the form.  

Things that you will need to submit:

1. A title or registration, depending on state it was purchased in, signed over to you by the former owner, just like you would a car.
2. Illinois Dept. of Revenue form RUT - 75 and pay tax if due.
3. A check for tax made out to the Illinois Department of Revenue.
4. A check for the correct registration fee made out to the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.

Can I send copies of the documents or do I have to send the originals?

You must send the originals of all documents. Copies of titles, registration cards, lien release or any other required documents will not be expected and they as well as the application will be returned to you.


Where do I mail my application?

IDNR/Watercraft
PO Box 19226
Springfield, IL 62794-9226 .


I mailed my paperwork to DNR before I realized that I had not included all my documents, can I now submit those in another envelope?

Because of the large volume of mail we receive, it is almost impossible to match up documentation that is sent in two different envelopes. In most cases, you will need to wait for your paperwork to be returned to you. For this reason, we ask that you double check to make sure that you have included all required documentation before sealing the envelope.


What if the owner of the watercraft is deceased ? 

You will need a copy of the death certificate and a small estate document completed in addition to the application and tax form.  Some instances are even more complicated so, please contact us by telephone or email.


May I use my watercraft while I am waiting for my application to be processed?

Yes, keep a copy of your application on the watercraft.  This will serve as your temporary permit for 120 days. Other states are not obligated to honor our temporary permits, please contact that state regarding their rules and regulations.


I moved to a new address after I submitted my paperwork. Will the U.S. Postal Services forward my title, registration card and decal?

Yes, but there is a limit on how long they can forward mail. Check with your local post office for details.


Where can I get a tax form?


The tax forms are not available online because they are numbered. Some DMV’s have the forms, currency exchanges (you are not obligated to use their services), or you can call your revenue office at 800 732-8866


Do I have to register my canoe, kayak,  paddle boat, or sail board? 

Non-motorized watercraft, canoe, kayak,  paddle boat, or sail board, in Illinois are no longer required to be titled/registered in Illinois, unless the vessels have a motor or sail.  You are now required to purchase a 'Water Usage Stamp' for $6.00 per calendar year for each of the first three vessels, and $3.00 each for any additional vessels  Please note: an agent fee of $.50 will be charged per vessel.  The stamps are good for one year they expire on December 31st each year.  Use this link to find vendor locations for purchase of the water usage stamp.


Where does my Water Usage Stamp go on the vessel?

Anywhere on the interior or exterior of the vessel as long as it is visible.


What if my HIN is not 12 digits or in correct format?

1973 or newer usually has the 12 digit format. If it needs to be verified, we will accept a pencil tracing and a picture of the watercraft. See instruction page for format.


Do I need to have safety equipment on board?

It varies depending on the size of the boat. See our Boating Regulations Digest.


Can I title an abandoned boat?

Usually this can be done by following our procedures. Any questions you can view the Abandoned Watercraft & Labor and Storage Lien.


What is the purpose of a dealer tag and who can apply for it?

Only dealers and manufacturers can apply for the dealer tag. This allows them to operate any watercraft in stock for demonstration purposes only. There are no titles issued with this tag, registration only.


I mailed an application in for a title search. How long will it take and what do I do with this information when I receive it?

We will send you our most recent information regarding the owner on record. At that point, you would send a certified letter to the address given to you. If it is signed for, you need to allow 30 days for a response, if you have not heard anything by then, you can send in your application, bill of sale, DNR fee and any applicable tax that may be due. We can then issue a title and registration in your name.


I do not have a hull identification number (HIN). Will you assign one to my watercraft?

Almost all watercraft 1972 or newer will have had a 12 digit HIN attached to it directly from the manufacturer. If you have inspected the watercraft thoroughly and cannot find a HIN, let us know and depending on the situation, we may be able to assign one. You will then receive a letter asking you to permanently affix the new HIN to your watercraft.