How to get a Motorboat or Jet Ski License

The Motor Vehicle Commission (MVC) issues motorboat and personal watercraft licenses for use on fresh, non-tidal waters or lakes, creeks or rivers not affected by tidal conditions. A boat license and New Jersey Boat Safety Certificate are required to operate a power vessel or personal watercraft - jet ski or wave runner - on non-tidal waters of New Jersey. A boat license is not required for non-powered vessels.

Step One: Complete a boating safety course
For any power motorboat operation on tidal waters, you must successfully complete a boating safety course approved by the New Jersey State Police (NJSP) to receive a New Jersey Boating Safety Course Certificate. Visit the NJSP Marine Service Bureau website for full details.

Additional information is available:

Download a copy of the Boating Safety Manual

Boating is Alive & Well in New Jersey On The Water - Go Boating NJ Video

Step Two: Get an initial motorboat or jet ski license
You must be at least 16 years old. If you are under the age of 17, you need to present a letter with parental or guardian consent.

Applicants must visit a motor vehicle agency with:

New Jersey Boating Safety Course Certificate
6 Points of ID
Pay the $18 license fee

The MVC accepts American Express® card, MasterCard®, Visa® card, Discover card®, checks, money orders and cash.

A license may be renewed by following the above steps for getting the initial license.

How to title and register a boat

In order to use New Jersey waterways, all boats must be titled and registered except:

  • Those not based in New Jersey or operating for less than 180 consecutive days.
  • Foreign vessels
  • U.S. public vessels
  • Ship's lifeboats
  • Non-motorized vessels used exclusively on small lakes and ponds on private property.
  • Racing vessels with New Jersey State Marine Police permit.
  • Non-motorized inflatable devices, surfboards, racing shells, dinghies, canoes and kayaks.
  • Non-motorized vessels less than 12 feet in length.
  • Tender/dinghy used solely for direct transportation between a vessel and shore.

*If your boat is 12 feet or less or if it is documented by the US Coast Guard, you will not receive a title.

How to get an initial boat title and registration

Boats must be titled within 10 working days of purchase or are subject to a $25 penalty.

  • Complete the Universal Title Application (Form OS/SS-UTA) and a Boat Registration Application Form (BA-51)
  • Provide properly assigned Manufacturers Certificate of Ownership (MCO), title, or if coming from a state that does not title: proof of ownership from seller (their registration) along with a notarized bill of sale (Documented vessels see separate instructions below.)
  • If the boat is financed, provide the name and address of the lien holder. (All lien holders in NJ must have an Entity Identification Number {EIN} formerly corp code).  The original title will be sent to lien holder.

How to title and register a homemade boat

To title and/or register a homemade boat, visit a motor vehicle agency with proper identification (NJ Driver’s License, Non-driver ID, Passport or Birth Certificate)and the following:

  • Original receipts for all parts purchased
  • Notarized statement outlining all construction details
  • Fee payment: $60 for a standard boat or $85 for a financed boat
  • “HIN Investigation Report” form OS/SS-10A (found only at motor vehicle agencies) completed by the NJ State Police, Marine Division.
  • Completed Universal Title Application (Form OS/SS-UTA)
  • Completed Boat Registration Application Form (BA-51)

How to register a Documented Vessel

Vessel documentation is a national form of registration. Documentation provides evidence of nationality for international purposes, provides unhindered commerce between the states and admits vessels to certain restricted trades, such as coastwise trade and the fisheries. A vessel must weigh at least five net tons, with the exception of certain oil spill response vessels and must be wholly owned by a citizen of the U.S. in order to be documented.

  • A vessel that is documented through the United States Coast Guard (USCG) will be issued a Certificate of Documentation.
  • If a boat is operated in New Jersey waters in excess of 180 days OR if the owner leases, owns, maintains or rents space in New Jersey for storage, mooring or servicing of the vessel on other than a transient basis, the documented vessel must be registered in New Jersey. Documented vessels do not receive NJ titles.

Applicant must visit a motor vehicle agency with:

**Boats that are documented do not receive a NJ title. Fees are still charged to transfer ownership, record lien and/or change state of record for vessel.

Fee payment:

  • $60 for the title fee**
  • $85 for a financed boat title**
  • Pay the appropriate registration fee.

The MVC accepts American Express® card, MasterCard®, Visa® card, Discover card®, checks, money orders and cash.

Sales and Use Tax for Boats & Vessels

Refer to the NJ Division of Taxation website for guidance on Sales and Use Tax for the purchase of boats and vessels.