An Newbie’s Guide to Registering Your PWC


Now that your new (or new-to-you) personal watercraft is in your hands, it’s time to get it registered and on the water. Since this author a resident of the state of Texas we’re going to discuss how it is done here in the state; however, the process is almost the same for every other state, just with a few differences and this article will cover that later on.

There are two ways of getting a ski; either buying brand new from a dealership or buying used from either a private seller or a dealer. Whether you’re purchasing and registering in the same state or registering a ski from different states, both processes are fairly similar. It just requires a bit of effort to call the state registrar so you can have all the correct paperwork needed for the out-of-state purchase. If you are going to finance, just be diligent about knowing how the registration works in your state and making sure that the dealer also understands the registration process, because mistakes can happen.

Registering a brand new ski from a dealership is the easiest way with the least amount of headaches. All dealerships are equipped to handle all of the paperwork for the customer, especially if you’re financing through the dealership’s financing department. Depending on the state the ski will be registered in, either the local tax office or the state’s department of Fish & Wildlife/Game is going to handle registration process. Personal watercraft are like all other motorized vehicles, they must registered to operate on public byways.

Regardless of the state, they will issue a registration date sticker and your eight-digit registration number. This eight-digit number you can think of as your PWC‘s license plate. This eight-digit number is broken down with your state’s abbreviation, followed by four numbers than two letters. And just like a car, once you are registered within a state you can take your watercraft anywhere in the US (and some places internationally like the Bahamas). This registration covers the ski in all waterways across the country.

In the state of Texas, registration is handled through Texas’ department of Parks and Wildlife; which, in Texas is different from most other states. Typically, registration is handled by a county tax office. Depending on where you live, it is best to call and find out what your state’s registering department is. Once informed who handles registration, proceed to ask what paperwork is required to register because every state is a little different.

When purchasing a new watercraft, they are not titled from the manufacturer; rather, all the skis are shipped with a “manufacturer certificate of origin,” commonly known as MCO. This allows you to either apply for a title or is what is sent to the finance company for them to receive a title from the manufacturer.

Now, some states like Arizona are what’s known as a “no title state.” So, the MCO is what allows you to register your ski with the state, and then the registration serves as ownership paperwork. But this is specific to no title states.

Once you receive your registration numbers you are also going to be given a registration card for the state. This is just like the paperwork you keep in the glove box of a car.

It is required to keep this registration card with you while operating the watercraft in case your pulled over by any type of waterway law enforcement.

Now that you have your registration number and registration card the only other thing you need (depending on your state) is your boating license. Here in Texas, the law requires that “all boat operators born on or after September 1, 1993, who will be operating a PWC, a motorized boat over 15 hp, or a sailboat over 14 feet in length to pass a boater safety course and to carry a boater education card.” Other states requiring a license and/or safety course will also have similar laws.

Now that the ski is registered, dusky has been assigned registration numbers the operator has passed or taking any boater education courses needed to legally operate the watercraft. It’s time to have fun and get on the water to enjoy the PWC life.

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Julian Ramirez

Julian Ramirez is an avid PWC enthusiast. He grew up in the desert of west Texas riding dirt bikes from his youth and old school VW sand rails. Until one day during A family camping trip. Julian convinces his dad that they should get a pair of JetSki‘s just to have fun with. After those first JetSki‘s it was over for Julian, he fell in love with the watercraft industry and the camaraderie and support that the community brings.

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