Code of Virginia

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Code of Virginia
Title 29.1. Wildlife, Inland Fisheries and Boating
Chapter 7. Boating Laws
12/5/2022

Article 1. Boat Registration and Identification.

§ 29.1-700. Definitions.

As used in this chapter, unless the context clearly requires a different meaning:

"Motorboat" means any vessel propelled by machinery whether or not the machinery is the principal source of propulsion.

"No wake" means operation of a motorboat at the slowest possible speed required to maintain steerage and headway.

"Operate" means to navigate or otherwise control the movement of a motorboat or a vessel.

"Owner" means a person, other than a lien holder, having the property in or title to a motorboat. The term includes a person entitled to the use or possession of a motorboat subject to an interest in another person, reserved or created by agreement and securing payment of performance of an obligation, but the term excludes a lessee under a lease not intended as security.

"Personal watercraft" means a motorboat less than sixteen feet in length which uses an inboard motor powering a jet pump, as its primary motive power and which is designed to be operated by a person sitting, standing, or kneeling on, rather than in the conventional manner of sitting or standing inside, the vessel.

"Vessel" means every description of watercraft, other than a seaplane on the water, used or capable of being used as a means of transportation on water.

"Waters of the Commonwealth" means any public waters within the territorial limits of the Commonwealth, the adjacent marginal sea and the high seas when navigated as a part of a journey or ride to or from the Virginia shore.

Code 1960, c. 500, § 62-174.2; 1962, c. 626; 1968, c. 659, § 62.1-167; 1972, c. 412; 1987, c. 488; 1998, cc. 84, 443, 512, 514, 515, 533, 537, 563.

§ 29.1-701. Department to administer chapter; Motorboat Committee; funds for administration; records; rules and regulations.

A. It shall be the duty of the Department to enforce and administer the provisions of this chapter.

B. The chairman of the Board shall designate from among the members of the Board three members who shall serve as the Motorboat Committee. This committee shall place special emphasis on the administration and enforcement of this chapter.

C. All expenses required for administration and enforcement of this chapter shall be paid from the funds collected pursuant to the numbering and certificate of title provisions of this chapter. All moneys collected pursuant to the numbering and certificate of title provisions of this chapter shall be deposited into the state treasury credited to a special fund, known as the game protection fund, and accounted for as a separate part to be designated as the motorboat and water safety fund. Such moneys shall be made available to the Department solely for the administration and enforcement of this chapter, for educational activities relating to boating safety and for other activities and purposes of direct benefit to the boating public. Moneys from the motorboat and water safety fund shall not be diverted to any other state agency. The motorboat and water safety fund and moneys otherwise provided for in this chapter shall be made available to carry out the intent and purposes as set forth in this chapter in accordance with plans approved by the Board. All such funds are hereby reserved until expended for the enforcement, administration and other provisions of this chapter. However, the Board is authorized to adopt a plan or formula for the use of these moneys for employing and equipping any additional personnel necessary to carry out the provisions of this chapter and for paying a proportionate share of the salaries, expense, and operational costs of existing personnel according to the time and effort expended by them in carrying out the provisions of this chapter. Such plan or formula may be altered or amended from time to time by the Board as existing conditions may warrant. No funds derived from the sale of hunting licenses or fishing licenses shall be expended or diverted for carrying out the provisions of this chapter.

D. The Department shall maintain a record of all certificates of title it issues. The certificates of title may be located (i) under a distinctive title number assigned to each watercraft, (ii) under the hull identification number of each watercraft, (iii) under the registration number, (iv) alphabetically under the name of the owner, and (v) at the discretion of the Board by any additional methods it determines.

E. The Board shall make such rules and regulations as it deems necessary and proper for the effective administration of this chapter. The proposal and adoption of rules and regulations shall take place as prescribed in Article 1 (§ 29.1-500 et seq.) of Chapter 5 of this title and all rules and regulations shall be published by the Board in a convenient form. The Board shall cooperate with the Department of Taxation in issuing titles and collecting tax thereon.

1960, c. 500, § 62-174.3; 1968, c. 659, § 62.1-168; 1972, c. 412; 1981, c. 405; 1987, cc. 101, 488.

§ 29.1-701.1. Authority of Board to set fees.

Notwithstanding any other provision of this title, the Board may by regulation adopt revisions in the fees, as it deems appropriate, charged for motorboat registration certificates and certificates of title under this chapter. Such license fees may be increased or decreased beginning July 1, 2004; however, no fee shall be increased or decreased more frequently than once every three years thereafter and no fee shall be increased or decreased more than $5 during such period.

2004, c. 1027.

§ 29.1-702. Registration requirements; display of numbers; cancellation of certificate; exemption.

A. 1. The owner of each motorboat requiring numbering by the Commonwealth shall file an application for a number with the Department on forms approved by it. The owner of the motorboat or the owner's agent shall sign the application and pay the following boat registration fee:

a. For a motorboat under 16 feet, $18;

b. For a motorboat 16 feet to less than 20 feet, $22;

c. For a motorboat 20 feet to less than 40 feet, $28;

d. For a motorboat 40 feet and over, $36.

2. Owners, other than manufacturers or dealers, of more than 10 motorboats numbered by the Commonwealth, shall pay $18 each for the first 10 such boats and $12 for each additional boat.

3. Upon receipt of the application in approved form, the Department shall have the application entered upon the records of its office and issue to the applicant a certificate of number stating the identification number awarded to the motorboat and the name, address and a social security number or numbers, or federal tax identification number of the owner or owners. Any certificate issued in accordance with this chapter shall expire three years from the last day of the month in which it was issued. Upon proper application and payment of fee, and in the discretion of the Director, the certificate may be renewed.

B. The owner shall paint on or attach to each side of the bow of the motorboat the identification number in the manner prescribed by rules and regulations of the Board. The number shall be maintained in legible condition. The certificate of number shall be pocket-size and shall be available for inspection on the motorboat for which issued whenever such motorboat is in operation. However, the certificate of number for any vessel less than 26 feet in length, and leased or rented to another for the lessee's noncommercial use for less than 24 hours, may be retained on shore by the vessel's owner or his representative at the place at which the vessel departs and returns to the possession of the owner or his representative, provided the vessel is appropriately identified as to its owner while in use under such lease or rental.

C. No number other than the number awarded to a motorboat or granted reciprocity pursuant to this chapter shall be displayed on either side of the bow of the motorboat.

D. The Department is authorized to cancel and recall any certificate of number issued by the Department when it appears proper payment has not been made for the certificate of number or when the certificate has been improperly or erroneously issued.

E. Any motorboat purchased and used by a nonprofit volunteer emergency medical services agency or volunteer fire department shall be exempt from the registration fees imposed by subsection A.

1960, c. 500, § 62-174.5; 1962, c. 626; 1964, c. 654; 1968, c. 659, § 62.1-170; 1970, c. 240; 1972, c. 412; 1980, c. 256; 1983, c. 126; 1986, c. 125; 1987, c. 488; 1990, c. 321; 1991, c. 82; 1992, c. 250; 2012, c. 233; 2015, cc. 502, 503.

§ 29.1-702.1. Making false affidavit or swearing falsely, perjury; penalty.

Any person who knowingly makes any false affidavit or knowingly swears to or affirms falsely any matter or thing required by this chapter or Chapter 8 (§ 29.1-800 et seq.) of this title or by the Director incidental to his administration of the boating laws shall, upon conviction, be guilty of perjury.

1990, c. 321.

§ 29.1-703. Identification numbers required; decals.

Every motorboat on the waters of this Commonwealth shall be numbered except those specifically exempt in § 29.1-710. No person shall operate or give permission for the operation of any motorboat on such waters unless the motorboat is numbered in accordance with this chapter, federal law, or a federally approved numbering system of another state, or has been issued a temporary registration certificate pursuant to the provisions of § 29.1-703.1. In addition to the numbering requirements, (i) the certificate of number awarded or temporary registration certificate issued to the motorboat must be in effect, (ii) the identifying number set forth in the certificate of number must be displayed on each side of the bow of the motorboat, and (iii) decals signifying the last month and year during which the certificate of number is valid must be displayed on each side of the motorboat within six inches of the registration number so as to be visible while the motorboat is being operated. Decals will be furnished with each certificate of number issued or reissued by the Department. Expired decals must be removed from the vessel. Upon written request and for good cause, the Board may allow exceptions to the requirement to display decals. If a decal becomes defaced, lost or destroyed, application for replacement shall be made to the Board within fifteen days. A fee of one dollar shall be charged for each decal or set of decals replaced. Decals must be displayed upon the watercraft for which they were purchased and are not transferable.

1960, c. 500, § 62-174.4; 1962, c. 626; 1968, c. 659, § 62.1-169; 1984, c. 3; 1987, c. 488; 1995, c. 241.

§ 29.1-703.1. Temporary registration certificate; fee; application.

A. An owner may obtain a temporary registration certificate from the Department or an authorized agent of the Department. The fee for the temporary registration certificate shall be ten dollars. Each temporary registration certificate issued shall be valid for a period of thirty days from the date of issuance. To qualify for a temporary registration certificate, the owner shall provide his name and address (including zip code), sufficient proof of ownership as determined by the Department and a description of the motorboat to include the: present number on the boat (if any); make and model; type of propulsion; year of manufacture; length as measured along the centerline; hull identification number; state of principal use; and required fee. Application for the permanent certificate of number and certificate of title (if applicable) with applicable fees shall be submitted to the Department immediately upon receipt of a temporary registration certificate.

B. A temporary registration certificate shall not be valid as proof of ownership for any vessel.

1995, c. 241.

§ 29.1-703.2. Designation of agents; compensation to agents; deposit of temporary registration certificate moneys.

A. The Director may authorize any person to act as an agent to issue temporary registration certificates. Persons accepting such authorization may be issued temporary registration certificates which upon issuance, in conformity with this chapter and with any rules and regulations of the Board, shall be valid as if issued directly by the Director.

B. Notwithstanding the provisions of § 2.2-1802, the money received for temporary registration certificates issued pursuant to § 29.1-703.1 shall be paid by each agent to the Department for payment into the state treasury. All moneys collected by the Department from the issuance of temporary registration certificates shall be deposited into the game protection fund and credited to the motorboat and water safety fund.

C. As compensation for such service, agents shall add and retain an amount equal to the fee provided to agents for the sale of hunting and fishing licenses as provided in § 29.1-332.

D. Remittance to the Department shall be made by each agent as required by the Department.

1995, c. 241.

§ 29.1-704. Recording previously awarded numbers.

The owner of any motorboat already covered by a number in effect which has been awarded to it pursuant to then operative federal law or pursuant to a federally approved numbering system of another state shall record the number prior to operating the motorboat on the waters of this Commonwealth in excess of the ninety-day reciprocity period provided for in § 29.1-710. Such recordation shall be in the manner and pursuant to the procedure required for the award of a number under § 29.1-702, except that no additional or substitute number shall be issued.

1960, c. 500, § 62-174.5; 1962, c. 626; 1964, c. 654; 1968, c. 659, § 62.1-170; 1970, c. 240; 1972, c. 412; 1980, c. 256; 1983, c. 126; 1986, c. 125; 1987, c. 488.

§ 29.1-705. Change of ownership of motorboat; lost certificates.

Should the ownership of a numbered motorboat change, a new application form with the appropriate fee as provided in § 29.1-702 shall be filed with the Department, and a new certificate bearing the same number shall be awarded in the manner as provided for in an original award of number. If the registration of the former owner is valid and the new owner has in his possession the dated bill of sale and the valid registration card of the former owner, the new owner may operate the vessel for thirty days from the date of purchase. If a certificate is lost, a new certificate bearing the same number shall be issued upon payment of a fee of fifty cents. Possession of the certificate shall in cases involving prosecution for violation of any provision of this chapter be prima facie evidence that the person whose name appears thereon is the owner of the boat.

1960, c. 500, § 62-174.5; 1962, c. 626; 1964, c. 654; 1968, c. 659, § 62.1-170; 1970, c. 240; 1972, c. 412; 1980, c. 256; 1983, c. 126; 1986, c. 125; 1987, c. 488.

§ 29.1-706. Agents awarding numbers.

The Director may award any certificate of number directly or may authorize any person to act as an agent to make award. Persons accepting such authorization may be assigned a block of numbers and certificates which upon award, in conformity with this chapter and with any rules and regulations of the Board, shall be valid as if awarded directly by the Director.

1960, c. 500, § 62-174.5; 1962, c. 626; 1964, c. 654; 1968, c. 659, § 62.1-170; 1970, c. 240; 1972, c. 412; 1980, c. 256; 1983, c. 126; 1986, c. 125; 1987, c. 488.

§ 29.1-707. Records.

All records of the Department made or kept pursuant to this section shall be public records and shall be open for inspection subject to conditions the Board may prescribe. The Director shall furnish, without cost, the annual lists of boat registrations, as of January 1, to the commissioners of revenue of each county or city, except that the Director shall not send the lists to any commissioner who requests that he not receive them.

1960, c. 500, § 62-174.5; 1962, c. 626; 1964, c. 654; 1968, c. 659, § 62.1-170; 1970, c. 240; 1972, c. 412; 1980, c. 256; 1983, c. 126; 1986, c. 125; 1987, c. 488.

§ 29.1-708. Transfer, destruction or abandonment of motorboat.

The owner shall furnish the Department with notice of (i) the transfer of all or any part of his interest other than the creation of a security interest in a motorboat numbered in Virginia pursuant to § 29.1-702 or § 29.1-704 or (ii) the destruction or abandonment of such motorboat, within fifteen days thereof. Such transfer, destruction, or abandonment shall terminate the certificate of number for the motorboat except that, in the case of a transfer of a part interest which does not affect the owner's right to operate such motorboat, the transfer shall not terminate the certificate of number.

1960, c. 500, § 62-174.5; 1962, c. 626; 1964, c. 654; 1968, c. 659, § 62.1-170; 1970, c. 240; 1972, c. 412; 1980, c. 256; 1983, c. 126; 1986, c. 125; 1987, c. 488.

§ 29.1-709. Change of address of certificate holder.

Any holder of a certificate of number shall notify the Department within fifteen days if his address appearing on the certificate changes, and he shall furnish the Department with his new address. The Board may provide in its rules and regulations for the surrender of the certificate bearing the former address and for certificate replacements or alterations bearing the new address.

1960, c. 500, § 62-174.5; 1962, c. 626; 1964, c. 654; 1968, c. 659, § 62.1-170; 1970, c. 240; 1972, c. 412; 1980, c. 256; 1983, c. 126; 1986, c. 125; 1987, c. 488.

§ 29.1-710. Exemption from numbering requirements.

A motorboat shall not be required to be numbered under this chapter if it is:

1. A motorboat which has been awarded a number pursuant to federal law or a federally approved numbering system of another state if the boat has been within the Commonwealth for less than ninety consecutive days.

2. A motorboat from a country other than the United States temporarily using the waters of the Commonwealth.

3. A motorboat which is used in a governmental function by the United States, a state or a subdivision of the state.

4. A ship's lifeboat.

5. A vessel which has a valid marine document issued by the Bureau of Customs of the United States government or any federal agency successor thereto.

6. A racing boat used during an authorized race and during a twenty-four-hour period before and after the race.

7. A motorboat belonging to a class of vessels which has been exempted from numbering by a regulation adopted by the Board after the Board has found that applicable federal law or federal regulation has exempted, or permitted the exemption of, such class of vessels.

8. A motorboat for which (i) a valid temporary registration certificate has been issued by the Department or an authorized agent of the Department, and (ii) an application has been made for a permanent registration and title (if applicable).

1960, c. 500, § 62-174.7; 1962, c. 626; 1964, c. 654; 1968, c. 659, § 62.1-173; 1972, c. 412; 1987, c. 488; 1995, c. 241.

§ 29.1-711. Dealers and manufacturers of motorboats.

The following shall apply to dealers and manufacturers:

1. The registering and numbering requirements of this chapter shall apply to dealers and manufacturers of motorboats.

2. Applications for certificates of number shall be made on the approved application form prescribed in this chapter. Dealers and manufacturers shall certify that they are dealers or manufacturers.

3. Applications shall be accompanied by a fee of twenty-five dollars for dealers and forty dollars for manufacturers, by check or money order, and shall be forwarded to the Department.

4. Upon receipt by the Department of a properly completed application and fee, it shall issue to the applicant a dealer's or manufacturer's certificate of number, as appropriate, which may be used in connection with the operation of any motorboat in the possession of the dealer or manufacturer when the boat is being used for demonstration purposes.

5. Additional dealer's or manufacturer's certificates of number may be obtained by applying in the same manner as prescribed for the initial certificate with payment of an additional fee of twelve dollars for each additional certificate.

6. Manufacturers or dealers may have the number or numbers awarded to them printed upon or attached to a removable sign or signs to be temporarily but firmly mounted upon or attached to the boat being demonstrated, so long as the display meets the requirements of this chapter.

1960, c. 500, § 62-174.5; 1962, c. 626; 1964, c. 654; 1968, c. 659, § 62.1-170; 1970, c. 240; 1972, c. 412; 1980, c. 256; 1983, c. 126; 1986, c. 125; 1987, c. 488; 1990, c. 321.