Under Washington state law, owners of watercraft registered in another state or country must purchase an Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) prevention permit before placing or operating the watercraft in any waterbody in the state. In order to purchase a permit (click the "other" product category tab), the purchaser needs to provide a watercraft registration number. Each separate registered watercraft requires a permit.
To operate a boat legally in the United States, most watercraft must first be registered in the state of residence. Each state has different specifications on what types of watercraft need to be registered. A watercraft registration number is generally displayed on both sides of its bow.
Each watercraft is given a registration number to prove it has been legally registered. A registration number allows government authorities to identify the watercraft while the vessel is in use or allow search and rescue officials to trace a lost watercraft to its owner. All states use a consistent registration pattern: two-letter state code – four-digit number – two-letter added code. Either spaces or hyphens between the letters and numbers are part of formal registration number.
In Canada, there are two registration systems and either registration number is valid for permit purposes. The "pleasure craft license" registration uses a nine-digit sequence that can start with a two-letter province code (i.e. "ON"; "BC"; etc.) followed by a seven-digit number, or the sequence can start with a two-digit number followed by a single-letter then a six-digit number.
The "vessel registration for pleasure craft" registration number can have over 20 letters and numbers in its sequence starting with a two-letter province code with periods (i.e. "O.N."; "B.C."; etc.), then a six-digit number code, then the vessel's net registered tonnage (i.e. "N.R.T. 4.52"). Similar to watercraft in the United States, these numbers are displayed on the bows of the watercraft to confirm registration and make enforcement or rescue easier.
A valid AIS prevention permit must be present and readily available for inspection by a fish and wildlife officer or ex officio fish and wildlife officer at the location where the vessel is placed or operated.
- Vessels registered in Washington (generally private recreational unless otherwise registered);
- Small watercraft (from Washington or out-of-state) that do not require state or country/province registration such as canoes or kayaks .
- Idaho or Oregon registered watercraft when used in shared state waters (generally private recreational unless otherwise registered).
- Private or commercial watercraft or seaplanes being transported overland by a commercial transporter (a permit is required by the commercial transporter only);
- Watercraft and seaplanes owned and used for official purposes by U.S. or foreign government entities (federal, state, local, military, or tribal).
- Watercraft used solely as "tenders" to larger boats.
- U.S. or foreign commercial vessels (having valid marine documentation as a vessel of the U.S. or a foreign country).