A Course for Safe Boating
Boating Law, Navigational Rules and Navigational Aids
Once registered, the boat registration numbers must be purchased
and displayed properly.
The figures must read left to right.
They must be displayed on the forward half of the starboard (right) and
port (left) sides of the boat.
Numbers must be in plain, block letters.
Numbers must be at least three inches high.
Numbers must be light-colored on dark backgrounds—or dark-colored
on light backgrounds—and must be easy to see, and as high above the
waterline as possible.
No number other than the number assigned can be displayed on the
forward half of the vessel.
Letters must be separated from the numbers by spaces or hyphens.
Registration stickers must be displayed three inches away from the number
and toward the rear of the boat.
Personal watercraft are boats, not
toys, and are subject to the same
registration and equipment laws as
Documenting a Boat
Californians can document their boats with the Coast Guard.
Larger boats meeting Coast Guard guidelines can be given a documentation
number by the Coast Guard. Documentation is a form of national registration
and is useful for boats taken into international waters or other countries.
Documented vessels must have their name and hailing port printed on the
stern, above the waterline. In California, a documented vessel may not be
registered by the state. For more information about this process, contact the
Because of the size and shape of
some models of personal watercraft
or other boats, it may be difficult to
apply registration numbers so that
they’re easy to see. If in doubt, check
with local authorities for proper size
CF 1234 JS
CORRECT DISPLAY OF BOAT NUMBERS