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Boating FAQs 

When will Water Usage Stamps be available?

Non-motorized watercraft, canoes, kayaks and paddle boats in Illinois are no longer required to be titled/registered in Illinois, unless the vessels have a motor or sail. They 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.  All of the new Water Usage Stamps must be purchased at the same time to receive the discount.  Water Usage Stamps are mandatory for all non-powered watercraft, except those with an Illinois registration that does not expire until June 30, 2014 (“14”) or June 30, 2015 (“15”). The stamps are available over the counter from DNR Direct license and permit point of sale vendors starting June 19. Use this link to find vendor locations for purchase of the water usage stamp.

What non-motorized vessels require a water usage stamp?

“Non-powered watercraft" is defined as any canoe, kayak, kiteboard, paddleboard, or other vessel not propelled by sail, canvas, or machinery of any sort. If you are using non powered watercraft as a conveyance (transportation device between two points) that non-powered watercraft requires a 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.

Where do I mail my application?

You will initially mail your application and documents to: IDNR/Watercraft, PO Box 19226, Springfield, IL 62794-9226. If you are resubmitting paperwork, send to IDNR/Watercraft or Snowmobile, One Natural Resources Way, Springfield, IL 62702-1271.

Am I able to complete the forms online?

They are fillable forms, but you must print them off and mail them to the IDNR.

How long will it take to process my application?

Depending on the time of year and the volume of mail, it can vary. Current processing times are noted.

I am changing the colors of my watercraft and/or replacing the motor. Can I make this correction on my renewal slip or do I have to surrender my title to have it changed?

You may change this when you renew, you are not obligated to change it on your title.

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.

The second owner listed on my title is deceased. How can I transfer the watercraft?

It depends on a number of issues, please contact us by telephone or email.

I do not have a hull identification number. 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.

How can I renew my registration?

Mail in your half sheet renewal notice. For more convenient and faster service, you can renew online here or renew over the phone 24 hrs a day by calling 1-866-867-3542. If you renew over the phone, please have your registration number, first 6 digits of your HIN and your credit card ready. It’s important to write the confirmation number down for your records.

Why am I not able to renew online or over the phone?

If your record is not found, it may be due to one of several reasons: perhaps the registration is not expired, or the registration and HIN number do not match correctly.

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 10 days and call DNR watercraft, we might have access to the confirmation number at that point.

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

NO, you will receive a new registration card and decal when your application is processed. The state law requires the purchaser of a watercraft to make application to the Dept. for reg/titling within 15 days of purchase.

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.

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.

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 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.

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

The second copy of your application serves as a 120 day temporary permit. You should keep this with you while operating the watercraft. Other states are not obligated to honor our temporary permits, please contact that state regarding their rules and regulations.

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.