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Where to Put Numbers on a Pontoon Boat?

Written by Anthony Roberts / Fact checked by Jonathan Larson

where to put numbers on a pontoon boat

Finding the right placement for registration numbers on your brand-new boat can be challenging, especially if you’re not familiar with boating. Since the placement can differ from state to state, it’s crucial to abide by the state’s law to avoid penalties.

So, where to put numbers on a pontoon boat? They should be affixed toward the front on both sides of the vessel. In this article, we’re going to find out the things you have to adhere to for legal navigation on the waterways. Stay tuned!

Pontoon Boat Registration Number Placement


The requirements for registration sticker placement can vary between states, but generally, you need to comply with the rules as follows:

  • The serial number must be on the bow of the vessel, or at least the forward half, to provide easy identification.
  • The number must be on both sides of the boat, in reading order from read to right.

This is where things get confusing because pontoons don’t have a traditional bow, so where to display boat registration numbers? Most pontoon owners recommend putting the numbers at the base of the railings, just above the decking, to be readily visible.

In addition, don’t get the HIN and registration number mixed up. The HIN is like the VIN of a car, while the registration number acts more like a license plate.

The HIN is usually stamped straight to the transom on the starboard side, not anywhere near the registration number location, so onlookers don’t get these two series mistaken as one another.


Besides these, some states also require additional rules, whereas the number has to be:

  • In contrast color with the hull
  • In block-style lettering
  • Hyphenated or spaced
  • Located within a certain distance with the boat decal (for most states, the distance is within 6 inches)
  • At least 3 inches in height

Regarding the applying method, you’re free to choose between stick-on decals or stencils and paint as long as you can ensure visibility above the waterline.

  • Generally, many boaters prefer stick-on vinyl decals due to their convenience with minimal effort.
  • Stencils are also effective, but they don’t come up easily. Since some states don’t legalize registration numbers transfer between owners, getting the stencils off the boat will be a pain in the neck, and it will likely damage the boat hull.
  • For pontoon boats, using decals would make more sense.

When applying the numbers to the boat, keep the surface clean and dry for better adhesion effect.


Where to put numbers on a pontoon boat? We’re sure this question no longer lingers on your mind by the end of this article.

To sum up, your boat registration number must appear on both sides’ front of the vessel. Having your number decal ready as soon as you get your registration number from your dealer is something you should be mindful of. After all, boating is all about the experience; getting pulled over on the water by a law enforcement officer is the last thing you’d want.

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