State law requires certain vessels be currently registered before they are launched into any Idaho state waters. Requirements vary depending on the size and type of boat. Registration numbers and validation stickers need to be displayed properly. If you plan to operate a boat in Idaho, you’re going to have to register it with the Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation (IDPR). The IDPR also offers boater education courses.

Select the topic from the tabs below to learn about boat registration AND the necessary qualifications to operate a boat in the state of Idaho.


What boats need to be registered?

All sailboats and motorboats must be numbered and registered. (A “motorboat” is defined as a mechanically propelled boat using fuel or electricity.)

Boats that do NOT have to be numbered or registered include boats propelled manually (rafts, kayaks, canoes, etc., without a motor) sailboards, documented vessels, float tubes and boats properly numbered and registered in another state which are using Idaho waters for 60 consecutive days or less.

Where can I register my boat?

Vessels can be registered at any Idaho Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) office.  There are two locations in Bonner County:

Ponderay                                                                                                                                                                                                          300 Bonner Mall Way, Suite #24                                                                                                                                                                          Ponderay, ID 83852                                                                                                                                                                                                (208) 265-1430

Priest River                                                                                                                                                                                                        75 Eastside Road                                                                                                                                                                                                    Priest River, ID 83856                                                                                                                                                                                            (208) 448-0746


You may also renew your registration online by visiting the Idaho Department of Park and Recreation Website 

For more information on vessel registration you can contact Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation at (800) 247-6332 or one of the Bonner County DMV offices listed above


How are boat registration fees used?

When you register your boat, you will be asked to designate up to two counties as your primary boating locations.  A portion of these registration fees are subsequently ear-marked for the designated counties to provide recreational boating services and facilities.

Do out-of-state boaters have to register?

Boats registered in their owner’s home state are allowed to boat in Idaho for up to 60 days.  Vessels used in Idaho waters in excess of 60 days must be registered in Idaho.  However, out-of-state boats are required to display an Idaho Invasive Species Fund sticker before the vessel may be launched in Idaho waters.

Registration Fees!

  • Boats 0 -12 feet in length – $31.50
  • Boats over 12 feet in length – $31.50 plus $2 per foot for each additional foot over 12 feet

How do I properly attach my registration number and validation stickers?

You must paint or permanently attach your registration number on each side of the forward half (bow) of the boat. Registration numbers must be vertical block characters at least 3 inches tall and read from left to right. Their color must contrast with the background, be distinctly visible and legible. A hyphen or space equal to letter width must separate letter and numeral groups (example: ID-1234-AA or ID 1234 AA). No other number may be displayed on the bow.

Attach the validation stickers securely to each side of the bow, within 6 inches and directly in line with the boat’s registration numbers. Expired stickers must be removed from your boat.

Canadian Boater Information

Things to remember if you will be boating in Idaho .

  • Boaters from Canada must display their License numbers (registration numbers) on the bow of their boats and have a copy of their license issued by the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans on board. 
  • Display on the port side immediately after the License number an Idaho Invasive Species Fund (ISF) Sticker (See frequently asked questions, Idaho invasive species laws) .
  • In addition to the safety equipment required by Canadian authorities, the United States Coast Guard requires boaters the carry a Type IV throw-able floatation device. 
  • A red or orange skier-down flag is also required and must be properly displayed if a towed person has become separated from the tow line. 



Idaho state law requires an operator involved in a boating accident to:


Stop his/her vessel immediately at the scene of the accident and.


Assist anyone injured or in danger from the accident, unless doing so would seriously endanger his or her own vessel or passengers and.


Give in writing, his or her name, address, and vessel identification to the owner of any property damaged by the accident.


The operator or owner of a vessel involved in an accident must notify immediately, by the quickest means possible, the Sheriff or the County in which the accident took place if any of the following occur:


A person dies or disappears


A person is injured


Damage to the vessel and other property exceeds $1,500.


Written Accident reports must be filed:


Within 48 hours in cases involving a death, disappearance or injury


Within 10 days for accidents involving only property damage.


Boating Accident Report forms can be found at the Sheriff’s Office or by calling the Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation at (208) 334-4199. An electronic copy of the report form can be downloaded here. Once you fill the form out, take it with you to the Sheriff’s Office in the county where the collision occurred.




A designated area where the operation of watercraft must be accomplished at not more than five (5) miles per hour, nor with more than a six inch (6”) wake, whichever is greater.


DISTANCES FOR NO WAKE ZONES: (see detailed No Wake Zones for specific waterways requirements)


Lake Pend Oreille & Pend Oreille River


Within two hundred (200) feet from any shoreline, dock, pier, bridges, other structure or any person in the water.


Within one hundred (100) feet of any other vessel, the speed of which shall not exceed fifteen (15) miles per hour.


Within fifty (50) feet of any other vessel.


Within two hundred (200) feet of the area surrounding ALL bridge structures.


Priest Lake & Upper Priest Lake


Within two hundred (200) feet from any shoreline, dock, pier, bridges, other structure or any person in the water.


Within one hundred (100) feet of any other vessel, the speed of which shall not exceed fifteen (15) miles per hour.


Within fifty (50) feet of any other vessel.




At no time shall any person operate any water craft of any size or description in such a manner or at such speed as to create any wake upon the Thoroughfare connecting Priest Lake and Upper Priest Lake.


Clark Fork River & Come Back Bay


Within one hundred (100) feet from any shoreline, dock, pier, bridges, other structure or any person in the water.

Within fifty (50) feet of any other vessel, the speed of which shall not exceed fifteen (15) miles per hour.

Within two hundred (200) feet of the area surrounding ALL bridge structures.


Pack River


The area of the Pack River Flats extending from the State Highway 200 Bridge, over the Pack River, downstream to the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway Bridge, is designated as a no wake zone, which shall extend from shoreline to opposite shoreline, encompassing all of the water area between.

The Pack River upstream of the Highway 200 Bridge is designated a non-motorized vessel zone.

No vessel is allowed to use any kind of motor as a means of artificial propulsion in those waters of the Pack River upstream of the Highway 200 Bridge.


All Other Waters


Within two hundred (200) feet from any shoreline, dock, pier, bridges, other structure or any person in the water.

Within one hundred (100) feet of any other vessel, the speed of which shall not exceed fifteen (15) miles per hour.

Within fifty (50) feet of any other vessel.


Age requirements for motorboats (Including Personal Watercraft)


It shall be unlawful to operate, or to allow the operation of a motor-driven watercraft by a person under the age of ten (10) except under direct adult supervision.

The age restriction provided for shall apply to the operation of personal watercraft.

It shall be unlawful to operate, or to allow someone to operate a motor-driven watercraft when the operator is between the ages of ten (10) to fourteen (14) without adult SUPERVISION unless the vessel is powered by a motor rated at ten (10) horsepower or less.


Speed Limits


Where speed is not otherwise regulated, the speed limit shall be reasonable and prudent but not in excess of the following:


Waters Day Night
Lake Pend Oreille and Pend Oreille River 50 mph 25 mph
Priest Lake and Upper Priest Lake 50 mph 25 mph
Clark Fork River and Come Back Bay 35 mph 25 mph


Boat Noise


Idaho state law requires all vessels shall meet requirements for engine and hull noise when operating on the waters of Idaho.  They shall be equipped with an effective, permanently installed muffling system which cannot be bypassed, such as those commonly referred to as Captain’s Choice or Silent Code (Idaho Code 67-7038(5))


Milfoil Awareness


Eurasion Milfoil is an increasing problem in the waterways of Bonner County. Please inspect your vessel & trailer and remove any weeds prior to launching and following every recovery.


Idaho Boating Statutes – Safe Boating Act

Invasive Species

Bonner County Invasive Species Vendors 2015



Boating in Idaho FAQs

Q: Can I drink alcohol while operating a boat?

A: While it is not illegal to consume alcoholic beverages while operating a boat, it is illegal to operate a boat while “impaired” by drugs or alcohol. The standards are the same as operating a motor vehicle (0.8 BAC or 0.2 BAC if under 21 years of age).  It should also be noted that Minors can be cited for “Minor in Possession of Alcohol or Drugs” if found to be in possession while operating a boat.

Q: Are there age limits for operating a boat in Bonner County?

A: Yes – you must be 14 years old to operate a boat with a motor 10 hp or greater without adult supervision on board. Less than 10 hp one must be 10 years old to operate without an adult on board.

Q: Is there a speed limit for boats?

A: Yes – generally 50 mph during the day and 25 mph during the night. There are some exceptions – See the BOATING REGULATIONS tab above.

Q: Are there no wake zones?


Q: What do I need to do to make my boat “legal” and ready to go?

A: This varies depending on the make, propulsion type and length of your boat. First, make sure your boat is properly titled, registered, and the bow numbers are displayed correctly. Sailboats and motor boats are required to be registered whenever on the water and all registrations expire December 31.

The minimum safety equipment for both powered and non-powered boats includes life jackets and a sounding device. Gas- powered motors require fire extinguishers if there are any closed compartments (even a live well) and fire extinguishers need to say “marine approved” and “approved by the Coast Guard” on the label. Inboard motors need to have a backfire flame arrester.

A good way to be sure you have what you need is to contact the local county sheriff’s office or the Coast Guard Auxiliary for a free inspection. An inspection sticker tells others that you care not only about your own crew but about other boaters. Above all, make sure your motor, electrical and fuel systems have been checked out by a mechanic, and that all any fuel spills in the bilge are cleaned up before you go.

Q: Are there special regulations for riding personal watercraft?

A: Personal Watercraft (PWC) are small, jet-propelled boats designed to carry one to three people to sit on top rather than inside a vessel. Often referred to as “jet skis,” these watercraft are considered motorboats and are subject to the same regulations as motorboats, including equipment and responsible handling.

In Bonner County an operator of a PWC must 14 years old or have an adult supervisor (18 years old) on board.

Idaho counties have the authority to enact restrictions for personal watercraft that are more strict than state law.

Idaho and PWC manufacturers recommend that all drivers be at least 16 years old, and that all riders wear a helmet, protective shoes and life jacket. 

Special concerns for PWC Operators:

  • There is a countywide no-wake zone. Slow to 5 mph within 200 feet of a dock, structure or person in the water.
  • No wake within 50 feet of another vessel.
  • Wake jumping is restricted. A safe distance is at least 200 feet.
  • Towing a skier or tuber requires a manufacturer’s capacity rating for three people. Towing two or more people in a tube is considered “overloading” and is illegal.
  • It takes three to ski. The driver must have a passenger serve as the spotter and operate the skier-down flag.
  • Operating at night is prohibited without the proper combination of lights.
  • Yield the right-of-way to other powerboats and skiers.

Q: Are boaters or rafters required to wear life jackets?

A: Children fourteen and under must wear an approved life jacket when they are aboard a boat 19 feet in length or less whenever the boat is underway or under power. This applies to manually propelled boats such as canoes and rafts in addition to powerboats, sailboats, personal watercraft (jet skis) and fishing float tubes.

Also, the right kind of personal floatation device must be on board the motorboat or paddle craft and within quick reach for adults. That is, they must say “Coast Guard Approved” on the label, be the right fit for the person on board, be the kind you wear (not a cushion or ring buoy) and in like new condition. Stored under the seat or in a dry bag is not considered within quick reach.

Q: Where do I get information about permits to build a private dock on a public waterway?

A: For information and permits to place or maintain docks, buoys, or anything else on the public waterway contact the Idaho Department of Lands, Navigable Waters Section, 2550 Hwy 2, Sandpoint, ID 83864 or telephone (208) 263-5104.

Idaho Boat Inspection Report

Why we do boat inspections

It is the policy of the state of Idaho to improve boating safety, to foster the greater development, use and enjoyment of the waters of this state by watercraft and to adopt certain standards for the safe operation and equipment of vessels. “Idaho Safe Boating Act.”

The sheriffs and deputy sheriffs of the respective counties are primarily responsible for the enforcement of the “Safe Boating Act” and in the exercise of their authority may stop and board any vessel subject to law.

The primary tool used by the sheriffs in the exercise of their responsibilities is the “Idaho Boat Inspection Report”.

The report consists of three sections, contact information, registration and carry law compliance and contact observation notes. Inspections are used to generate various safety and compliance statistics, while at the same time educating the public as to registration and safety equipment requirements.

Idaho Invasive Species Law

Idaho law states that any motorized or non-motorized boat operating in Idaho is required to display an Invasive Species Fund (ISF) sticker. When you purchase and display an ISF sticker, you contribute to a fund that provides vessel inspections, washing stations and informational materials that will assist Idaho with preventing the introduction of aquatic invasive species like quagga mussels.

For Frequently Asked Questions and other information about the Invasive Species Program, please visit the Idaho State Department of Agriculture.

Purchase Invasive Species Fund Stickers

Boaters can purchase ISF stickers on-line, at any Idaho State Park or at specific vendors.

Did You Know?

Boats registered in Idaho do not have to purchase an additional Idaho Invasive Species Fund sticker. Your contribution to the ISF has been included in your annual registration fees for your convenience.

Invasive Species Sticker Assistance: 1-208-334-4197 (M-F 8am to 5pm MST)

Invasive Species Sticker

Renewing your boat registration?

You’ll need the PIN and sticker number from your renewal form.

Renew Your Registration