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sailboat registration michigan

Sailboat Registration in Michigan

Sailboat Registration in Michigan

Bought a new or used sailboat in Michigan? You will have to get that registered. Like most other vehicles, it is vital to have them documented with the proper authorities. That helps in enforcing rules and regulations and is part of being a good citizen. Whether the sailboat is for recreational purposes or work, you need to have it registered.

Regardless of size, all sailboats are required to be registered in Michigan and all other 50 states

michigan sailboat registrationProcess of Sailboat Registration in Michigan

Your first step to registering your sailboat is to gather all related and essential documents. Take your documents to the Secretary of State’s office, where you will fill up an application form for the new sailboat registration.

The Michigan Secretary of State branch will require you to present the bill of sale as proof of your purchase. You will also need the title to be under your name. Different scenarios can play out in this case.

  • If the title is still under the seller’s name, you will need to take this document to the Secretary of State branch to transfer ownership.

  • If the seller cannot find the original title, they can order a replacement through ExpressSOS. They can also personally go to the Secretary of State branch to process the replacement.

  • You can present a court order or security bond if the title is unavailable.

  • In cases where a sailboat never had a title to begin with, you can fill up the watercraft registration obtained from the seller to initiate the proceeding. Another option is to provide the bill of sale with the Hull Identification Number (HIN).

You can complete the registration only when the transfer of ownership is confirmed. When you claim the title, a unique registration number for your boat comes with it. That is composed of the letters MC followed by two numbers and four letters. You will also receive a validation decal, which needs to be placed on the exterior of the boat.

What to do with MC and Decal

Michigan laws require sailboats to display the registration decal and number. They provide a comprehensive guideline for this:

  • The numbers should be visible on both sides of the sailboat. They should be positioned high enough that they are above water.

  • You can either paint or use sticker decals for the numbers.

  • The numbers should be written in block style and measure at least three inches tall. Allocate enough space between each number and letter.

  • Write the number from left to right.

  • Choose a color that stands out to ensure all digits are visible.


Additionally, the Secretary of State’s office will provide you with registration decals. These are affixed three inches away from the numbers. No other numbers are permitted to be written on the exterior. 

Always bring your registration certificate when operating the vessel.

registration michigan sailboat

Michigan Sailboat Registration Fees

You will need to pay the appropriate registration fees for your sailboat, with the exact amount depending on the length of the vessel. The exception is nonmotorized sailboats which have a fixed $9 fee. See below for the list of fees based on the length of the sailboat:

  • Less than 12 feet: $14
  • 12 to 16 feet: $17
  • 16 to 21 feet: $42
  • 21 to 28 feet: $115
  • 28 to 35 feet: $168
  • 35 to 42 feet: $244
  • 42 to 50 feet: $280
  • Above 50 feet: $448


The fees cover the origination and three-year renewal of the registration.

Renewal of Registration

All sailboat registrations end on March 31 in their third year. You will receive mail notifying you about renewal.

To renew your sailboat registration, take note of the following:

  • Your MC number. 
  • The last four digits of your HIN, if applicable
  • Payment method based on how you will renew


You can renew your sailboat registration by:


You will need to renew your registration by August 31 of the same year. If you miss the deadline, additional penalties are imposed.

If your sailboat is registered in Michigan, but you live out of state, it is best to renew by mail. You are strongly recommended to visit the Secretary of State branch if you get the chance for renewal.

Additional Information

You have 15 days to surrender the Certificate of Number if any of the following occurs:

  • The sailboat was destroyed or abandoned
  • Ownership of the sailboat was transferred
  • Change of address


If the Certificate of Number is unavailable, you will pay a fee and apply for a replacement.

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