State offers boat registration renewal online

LANSING — Secretary of State Ruth Johnson said today that offers an easy, quick and popular way to renew watercraft registrations, which is great news for the 251,000 boat owners receiving their renewal notices this month.

“I encourage boaters to renew online at,” Johnson said. “It’s fast and easy. Renew online from anywhere you have Internet access and enjoy more time on your boat.”

Online renewal for watercraft began in 1998 and grew quickly. The program, which debuted in June during the middle of the boating season, processed five online renewals that year. In 1999, nearly 4,000 online renewals were submitted. By 2011, online renewals hit 55,000., which was launched last year, makes online renewals even more convenient. The system offers two methods for renewal. Express Renewal is fast and easy, requiring only the boat’s registration number to renew. Online Renewal PLUS lists all vehicles and watercraft eligible for renewal and lets the customer complete other online transactions at the same time, such as changing an address or renewing a driver’s license.

John Ropp, president of the Michigan Boating Industries Association, thanked Secretary Johnson for her efforts in improving registration procedures for boaters, adding that boating is a fundamental part of the state’s heritage and economy.

“Michigan remains one of the top three states nationally for boat registrations, reflecting the passion we have for the water, fishing and quality family time,” Ropp said. “From the boating industry’s perspective, boat registrations should be on a slow but steady upward trend as consumer confidence increases and unemployment decreases. Sales at boats shows are up over 2011, supporting the expectations that overall boat sales will grow 4 percent to 8 percent in 2012.”

Customers may also renew by mail or at any Secretary of State office. A change of address may be submitted whether renewing online, by mail or at a branch office. Renewals involving a change in name or watercraft must be completed at a branch.

There are nearly 907,000 watercraft registrations on file at the Secretary of State’s Office. Watercraft registrations are issued for three years and expire on March 31 of the third year.

A boating safety certificate is required to operate a personal watercraft for anyone born after Dec. 31, 1978. Personal watercraft operators must be at least age 16. Children ages 14-15 may operate one if they are accompanied by a parent, guardian or designated adult age 21 or older, or if they are operating one within 100 feet of a parent, legal guardian or designated adult age 21 or older.

To learn more about watercraft registration and other services, visit Customers also may call the Department of State Information Center to speak to a customer service representative at 888-SOS-MICH (767-6424).