Registered Boats - How Does California Compare to Other States?
Updated: Sep 28, 2022
According to the U.S. Coast Guard, in 2020, there were 11,838,188 registered recreational vessels nationwide.
In California, there were 645,951 registered recreational vessels.
Nationally, California ranks fourth behind Florida, Minnesota, and Michigan in terms of the total number of registered recreational vessels.
However, both Minnesota and Michigan have broader registration requirements than California.
In California, registration is only required for all motorboats and for sailboats over 8 feet in length. Registration is not required for canoes, rowboats, paddleboats, paddleboards, sailboats, parasails, seaplanes on the water, motorless floating homes, ships' lifeboats, or sailboats shorter than eight feet long.
The State of Minnesota requires registration for all watercraft, except non-motorized boats 10 feet or less in length, duck boats during duck hunting season, rice boats during harvest season, and seaplanes.
In Michigan, registration is required for all watercraft, except for manually propelled boats 16 feet or less in length, and privately-owned non-motorized rafts, canoes, and kayaks.
Here is a list of the top 10 states in 2020 by the number of registered vessels.
California residents can register their vessel with the Department of Motor Vehicles.
Nationally, the distribution of mechanically propelled recreational vessels was as follows.
Number of Boats
Under 16 feet
16 to less than 26 feet
26 to less than 40 feet
40 to 65 feet
Over 65 feet
With the popularity of wakeboarding and wake surfing, it's not surprising that the 16 to under 26-foot range represents the highest number of boats.