Maine Boating Laws
Practice Safe Boating on Maine Waters
All motorboats of any size, including airmobiles and personal watercraft, must be registered in Maine to be used on the waters of this State, except the following:
- Watercraft required to have a valid marine document as a watercraft of the United States. Vessels over 5 net ton used for commercial fishing must be documented. Call the National Vssel Dopcumentation Center in Falling Waters, WV at (800) 799-8362 for further information on documentation of a boat;
- Watercraft with valid registration from another state, provided the watercraft registration number is displayed on the motorboat and the motorboat will not be in Maine over 60 consecutive days after the state of principal use has been changed;
- Military or public watercraft, except recreational type Watercraft of the United States;
- A motorboat owned by the United States, a state, or subdivision thereof, which is used for governmental purposes and clearly identifiable as such;
- A ship's lifeboat;
- Motorboats from another country which are not within Maine over 60 consecutive days; and
- Motorboats used exclusively for racing purposes and displaying a valid boat number issued by a recognized racing association.
- Watercraft registrations are issued for a specific calendar year and are valid through December 31st of the year issued.
- Boat excise tax must be paid by a resident to the tax collector of their town before registration. A nonresident, prior to registering a motorboat which is located in Maine more than 75 days during a calendar year, must pay an excise tax to the Maine town where the boat is principally moored, docked or located. If the boat is exempt from tax, a tax exemption form must be completed by the owner and submitted with registration application and registration fee.
Proof of payment of sales tax is required for new registrations (resident and nonresident).
Registrations may be obtained from licensing agents or by mail. For applications and agent information please call 207-287-2043.
- 0-10 horsepower boat $10.00
- 11-50 horsepower boat $15.00
- 51-115 horsepower boat $21.00
- Over 115 horsepower boat $29.00
- Personal Watercraft $29.00
- Duplicate Boat Registration $ 1.00
- Duplicate Boat Registration & Sticker $ 2.00
- Boat Temporaty Transfer $ 4.00
ANNUAL EXCISE TAX
Before a watercraft can be registered, the owner must show proof that the annual excise tax has been paid on the watercraft. Maine residents pay the tax to the town in which they reside. Nonresidents or corporations pay the tax in the Maine town where the boat is principally moored, docked or located. All watercraft, including documented vessels, located in Maine are subject to an annual excise tax except the following:
- A lifeboat or raft carried by another vessel.
- A demonstrator of stock in trade (dealer's stock).
- A commercial vessel with no established base of operation in Maine.
- A watercraft not in Maine more than 75 days during the year. This refers to the number of days physically present in the State, not the number of days in use in Maine (Non-commercial vessels only).
- A watercraft 20 feet or less in length and does not use any type of motor power.
- A watercraft exempt from property tax.
Any watercraft not subject to registration but required to pay the excise tax must display an excise tax sticker on the watercraft to show that the excise tax has been paid.
The first time any owner of a watercraft registers the watercraft, the owner must (1) show proof that a 5.5% sales tax or use tax has been paid, or (2) pay the sales/use tax due to the Registration Agent at the time the registration is issued. Sales/use tax paid to another jurisdiction will be credited toward the Maine sales/use tax due. A watercraft purchased, registered and used by the present owner outside of Maine for at least a year is not subject to sales/use tax as long as the owner was a resident of the other state at the time of
TRANSFER OF OWNERSHIP
Upon the sale of a registered watercraft the person who is named on the registration as owner must remove and destroy the validation stickers on the watercraft and notify the Fish & Wildlife Department
of the transfer of ownership within 10 days of the transaction. The validation sticker is not transferable to the new owner. The new owner must register the watercraft for the regular registration fee.
When a watercraft owner transfers ownership of a watercraft covered by a current registration and purchases a new watercraft, a transfer registration can be obtained for the new boat for a $2.00 fee.
This registration will be valid for the remainder of the original registration period. The old registration must be turned in at the time of application for the $2.00 transfer registration.
CHANGE OF STATUS
It is also the responsibility of the registered owner of a watercraft to notify the Commissioner within 10 days of any of the following:
- Permanent removal of the watercraft from the State;
- Destruction or abandonment of the watercraft;
- Theft or recovery of the watercraft; or
- Change of address of the owner
DISPLAY OF REGISTRATION NUMBER & VALIDATION STICKERS
Whenever a motorboat is being operated, the operator must have the registration on the motorboat and available for inspection by a warden. EXCEPTION: The registration for a watercraft less than 26'
and leased or rented to another for non-commercial purposes may be retained on the shore by the owner of the watercraft. The person leasing or renting the watercraft must carry the lease agreement which includes the watercraft registration number the period of time covered by the lease, and signature of the owner or his representative.
The registration number and validation stickers must be legibly displayed on each side of the bow of the boat in the following manner:
Painted or permanently attached to the bow in a contrasting color to provide the highest degree of visibility. The number must read from left to right, be not less than 3 inches high and be vertical block character capital letters and Arabic numerals. The registration number should be displayed as shown
WHERE CAN I REGISTER A BOAT?
The Fish & Wildlife Office in Augusta is the central office for boat registrations and registration records. Many Maine municipal tax collectors or town clerks and a few businesses are Recreational Vehicle Registration Agents for the Fish & Wildlife Department. If you are registering a watercraft at the Augusta office or in a town other than your town of legal residence, you must first pay your excise tax in your town of residence. Be sure you have a receipt that shows the excise tax has been paid on your watercraft or your watercraft cannot be registered at another location.
A manufacturer or dealer of new or used motorboats, with a permanent place of business in Maine, may obtain a boat dealer license which allows demonstration or testing of a boat owned by the dealer with a dealer plate, instead of registering each boat individually. The annual fee for a dealer license is $15. Applications for this license may be obtained from the Fish & Wildlife Department in Augusta.
REGATTA, RACE. BOAT EXHIBITION OR WATER-SKI EXHIBITION PERMIT.
My person or persons holding a regatta, race, boat exhibition, or water-ski exhibition must obtain a permit from the Department of Inland Fisheries & Wildlife prior to holding such an event For further information call the phone number for the Registration Information number listed on page 4.
MOTORBOATS RENTED OR LEASED
It is the responsibility of the owner of a boat to obtain a registration for any motorboat before it is rented or leased by another.
OPERATOR'S LICENSE TO CARRY PASSENGERS FOR HIRE
Motorboat operators carrying passengers for hire on Maine's internal waters must have a license to carry passengers for hire. For further information, call the following Registration Information number (207) 287-2043. Anyone carrying passengers for hire on federal waters must obtain a license from the U. S. Coast Guard.
When operating a motorboat with more than 10 horsepower, a person under the age of 12 must be under the immediate supervision of a person located in the boat who is at least 16 years of age.
A person under 12 years of age may not operate personal watercraft which includes jet-skis.
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Registration Information -
All motorboats of any size, including airmobiles and personal watercraft, must be registered in Maine to be used on the waters of this State, except the following….
Motor Size Restrictions On Internal Waters -
The Commissioner of Inland Fisheries & wildlife may adopt and amend rules governing the horsepower (manufacturer's rated horse-power of the machinery; includes the aggregate of all such propellant machinery) of motors used to propel watercraft on all internal waters of this State.
Navigational Requirements -
These requirements cover all navigational requirements for all waters in the State of Maine.
Personal Watercraft Requirements -
•Any person under 16 years of age may not operate a personal watercraft which includes jet-skis.
•A person between 16 & 18 years of age may operate a personal watecraft if they have successfully completed an approved education course, or if they are accompanied by a person 18 years of age or older. Proof of age and course completion must be possessed while operating a personal watercraft.
•Anyone operating or riding on a personal watercraft must wear a Type I, II or III PFD.
•The parent or guardian of a minor under 18 years of age is responsible for the minor’s actions while operating a personal watercraft.
•Personal watercraft may not be operated during the hours between sunset and sunrise.
Liability Laws -
No person may throw, drop, deposit, discard or otherwise dispose of litter in any manner or amount: in or on any public highway, road, street, alley, public right-of-way or other public lands, except in containers, receptacles, or on property that is designated for disposal of garbage and refuse; or in any fresh water lake, river, stream, tidal or coastal water or on ice over the water. When any litter is thrown or discarded from a watercraft both the operator of the watercraft, unless it is a watercraft being used for the carriage of passengers for hire, and the person actually disposing of the litter are in violation of this section. This subsection does not prohibit persons who fish, lobster or otherwise harvest from the water from returning to the water harvested products, bait and similar materials that naturally originate in the water.