Registration numbers must be displayed on a boat on the forward 1/3 of the hull. Almost all states and US territories like the US Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico require boat registration numbers to be displayed on the bow. They are usually a combination of two letters (a state code), four digits and two more letters but there are some variations out there.
All states require 3″ block letters in an easy to read “solid” color – i.e. gradients are not allowed, neither are script fonts, but you can have some flair with metallic foils that appear solid when viewed from a distance.
Where on the bow? Well that varies depending on your boat – if you have a V-shaped hull with a lot of curve upward at the gunwale, you may want to position it on a more flat spot slightly further down to the waterline so the numbers can be read easily by the Coast Guard, DNR or other conservation officers. On RIB – rigid inflatable boats – you have a choice of using either a stencil OR you can affix a plate – usually plastic – to your side rubrail grab lines with a semi permanent attachment such as heavy duty zip ties.
In our example photo below, on a sailboat, the MC is facing the port side bow, and the state sticker is to the RIGHT of the numbers, as required by this state (Michigan in this case.)
Pontoon boats, hugely popular on inland lakes, you can choose to affix the numbers to your aluminum pontoon OR a side panel – we provide a very narrow font (Bebas) at 18″ wide that will fit most panels of pontoon boats.
You can get more information by looking at your state’s requirements – check out our links.