Do You Need to Register Your Watercraft with a Motor?

Posted by Bixpy on Apr 15th 2024

Do You Need to Register Your Watercraft with a Motor?

Adding a Bixpy electric outboard motor to your favorite watercraft can enhance your experience on the water, leading to longer adventures. However, once you add a motor to your watercraft…do you need to then register it like you would a boat?

The need for speed is pretty regulated, no matter what type of vehicle or watercraft we are talking about, which poses an important question we often receive: when adding an electric outboard motor to a watercraft, should you register it?

Yes, but…

The short answer is yes. The longer affirmative answer is that you should check with the state in which you plan to be operating your watercraft. If a watercraft is powered by oars or paddles, they generally do not have to be registered. However, adding an electric motor means you should check your local state laws. A quick online search can help you confirm this as well as give details on where to go to get everything registered properly. Go to to see what your specific state's regulations are.

Just was water safety is important such as wearing life jackets, ensuring that your vessel is registered with the proper authorities is equally important to keep everyone safe.

Two friends in kayaks with Bixpy motors

Registration Regulations

If you have already registered your watercraft but plan to take it to another state, do you have to register it there too? The answer is that it depends. Some states do allow you to use out-of-state registered watercraft in their waterways, but they might limit the time allowed. For example, you might be allowed to operate your watercraft for sixty consecutive days in another state, but once that time is up you can either leave the state or go ahead and register your watercraft there as well.

Registration itself is a very simple process. You can find your state’s registration online and fill out a form, provide a few details, pay a fee, and then you’re done! Registration is also not necessarily a yearly to-do item, but again you will need to check your state’s specific laws. Some states only ask that you register your watercraft every three years — again, this is a watercraft with a motor of some sort.

If you sell your watercraft then you must alert your state. You can be sure to remove your name off the watercraft or even help the new owner switch their names onto the registration.

Woman smiling in watercraft with Bixpy motor

California Rules

We can’t say it enough, so we will say it again: check your state’s specific laws and regulations. So while we cannot speak to all fifty states, we will share the rules here in Cali as they apply to personal watercraft with an electric outboard motor attached.

For California, you do have to register your personal watercraft if you attach a motor to it. Registration is simple, you fill out a form, provide proof of ownership, and pay a fee. After that, you must renew it every odd numbered year. For example, you might obtain it in 2021, and then you would have to renew it in 2023, 2025, 2027, etc.

If you buy a used vessel that has a motor on it, you will need to get the proof of ownership from the seller and submit a form online to show it now belongs to you. On the flipside, if you are the one selling, be sure to pass along proof of ownership and fill out the necessary forms online to take your name off the registration.

If you have more questions or need more information, you can visit California’s Department of Motor Vehicles for help.