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How To Register A Watercraft In Illinois

In Illinois, most watercraft require a registration number. Watercraft include jet skis, powered boats, and other large vessels. Watercraft registration expires after three years on the 30th of September. Before registering your vessel, there are fees, applications, and documents you must produce to the state first. This post will explain how to register watercraft in Illinois.

Required Documents

To register a watercraft in Illinois, the owner needs a few important documents. The first document they need is the manufacturer’s statement of origin. If you did not buy the vessel from a manufacturer, then you will need the owner’s title. Vessel’s purchased out of state will need the owner’s title or registration from their state.


Now, not all watercraft require registering with the state of Illinois. Non-powered vessel’s like canoes and kayaks and paddle boats do not need require registration. Additionally, watercraft owned and operated by the federal or state government, or one whose purpose is a lifeboat, and one only used for racing do not require registration.

Additionally, you can avoid registering your vessel in Illinois if you plan on being on the water for less than 60 days. You can do this by either registering with the coast guard or having registration papers from another state.

First Time Registrations

When registering a new watercraft, you must have the statement of origin from the manufacturer, a filled out application, and the application fee. Depending on the class of watercraft, the ST-556 tax form you may need to fill out and paid.

All new watercraft purchased out of state will need the same documents as above, including the RUT-25 tax form and a copy of the bill of sale. Used watercraft must submit similar documents, except for the RUT-25 tax form which depends on the watercraft’s class.


Re-registering your watercraft after the three-year expiration date is fairly easy. You can do it online through the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. Just follow the websites instructions, and you will be on your way to registering your watercraft.


Illinois requires watercraft registration, and registration lasts for three years. It is unlawful to operate a vessel without proper registration, so get your registration sent in before boating season is here. Be safe on the water’s this summer, and think about getting watercraft insurance to protect your vessel and yourself.

More Information

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Updated: December 2023

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