Where To Put Numbers On A Pontoon Boat

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Many newbies think that pontoon boat registration numbers are unnecessary, but this is not true. All motorized craft need to be registered.

Registering your pontoon boat is only half the equation, though. You also need to display the registration numbers on the boat.

But where do you put the numbers on your toon? In this article, we’ll go over where to put numbers on a pontoon boat.

You should always follow the requirements for your state, but if there are no requirements, we have put together these recommendations.


Where To Put Numbers On A Pontoon Boat

Some states have requirements for where to put your numbers, but many do not. You need to start by checking your state to see if there is a requirement.

The state website for boat registration should have some details on location requirements.
If there is guidance from the state, follow those instructions.

If there is guidance from the state, follow those instructions.

If not, read on.

Requirements Vary From State To State

The rules are largely the same for most states in the union.

Most states require boat numbers to be boldly displayed:

  • In block letters in the forward half of the boat
  • They must be visible and easy to read.
  • On both sides of the boat

Many states require that no other boat numbers be displayed alongside the registration number.

The reason for this is clear. Having two different numbers can be confusing.

This is because onlookers may not know which number is the main registration number.

Another standard rule is that the registration number should be boldly displayed in block letters and numbers on both sides.

Furthermore, the number’s color and letters must have a uniform color. They must also be in sharp contrast to the color of the boat.

Block letting three inches bold is the standard practice in many states. But a few others may opt for different criteria.

That is why you are advised to check with your local authorities or coast guard to understand what exactly is required.

The numbers and letters must have a uniform color and be in sharp contrast to the color of the boat.

So, in a nutshell, a pontoon boat registration number should be located:

  • On both sides of the boat
  • On the forward half section of the toon tubes
  • The lettering should be in block letters of three inches in height
  • Hyphens and spaces should be used to separate unique characteristics
  • Numbers should be placed a reasonable distance from the decal (some States)
  • The number should be in a distinct painting different from the boat’s colors and must be visible

The Different Ways To Apply Registration Numbers On Pontoon Boats

There are different regulations for applying your numbers to the boat. But the authorities do not tell boaters how to go about applying them. Registration number application is at the discretion of the boat owner.

The method you use has to be a durable and weather-resistant boat method. Remember that the number will always be exposed to weather elements as well as water every time you take it out, so you need a method that will work for you regardless.

Here are smart ways to put registration numbers on pontoon boats.

1. Stick-on Vinyl Decals

Vinyl Decals are very popular for pontoon boats. They are readily available and affordable, and they last long. You must apply it to the boat’s aluminum body, and these will remain in place for a very long time.

Some manufacturers include vinyl decals or transfer tape in the package. But if yours doesn’t come with any, no worries, you can get one from a marine supply store. Vinyl is great on dry and hard surfaces.

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Keep them above the antifouling paint line, of course!

2. Use A Stencil

Another way to apply for registration numbers on your pontoon boat is to use a stencil. It is good way to go on fiberglass boats.

With a stencil, you can simply use it to write the number on the documented vessels boldly. Stencils are a great choice because they can be wiped off or otherwise removed. This comes in handy if the pontoon boat may be sold in the not-so-distant future.

So you want something that will last for a long time, but can also be removed when necessary.

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3. Old School Paint

If you don’t want to use transfer tape, you can go the old school way by using weather-resistant paint. This method is permanent, so you should use very good paint that will not smear the boat.

If you don’t really care how it’s gonna look, or if you’re a really good painter, this is a good way to do it. Just make sure the numbers are at least 3″ tall.

Finding your Registration Numbers On Your Pontoon Boat

You want to make sure your boat is properly registered and identified before you take it out on the water. No need to get in trouble with the authorities, just do it properly the first time.

If the boat is new, the dealer may handle the registration paperwork for you with the current sticker immediately. So, you just pick it up without doing it yourself. Boat dealers are familiar with the process and can take responsibility for you.

Also, they offer this service as a way to attract customers. Most people don’t want to deal with the paperwork, but a dealer will be experienced at it.

In some states, the body responsible for registration is the DMV. But other states have a separate agency responsible for marine registrations.

Simply visit the website or go to the agency’s office to make inquiries.

Benefit Of Registering Your Pontoon Boat

Registering your pontoon boat is not only necessary by law. But it also confers certain advantages on you as the boat owner.

Here are the reasons and benefits of registering your pontoon boat.

1. Boat Identification

If you are traveling a busy route, you may have encountered other boats that look an awful lot like yours. They may even be the same brand and model!

With so many similar boats around, you want to have your boat registered and named to differentiate it from other boats.

If you anchor your boat at a busy shore with similar-looking boats, the easiest way to find it is to look at the registration numbers.

2. Search And Rescue

In case your boat goes missing or is stolen, the authorities will use the registration number to track it down.

3. Accident Response

Coast guards also rely on registration numbers to respond to accident emergencies. This alone can be a lifesaving measure.

4. Enjoy Local Programs

Boating programs organized by local authorities and boat clubs are for registered boat owners. So if you want to take part in such programs and enjoy the goodies they offer, you have to be a registered boat owner.


You now know the basics of where to put numbers on a pontoon boat. You should place it on both sides of the boat in block letterings of at least 3 inches bold, above the waterline.