I was able to locate this online...It answers your questions and confirms what I have stated above re: the display of registration numbers. See info highlighted.
STATE OF NEW JERSEY
State-Specific Boating Safety Requirements
SL 1. Law Enforcement Authority
The Marine Services Unit of the New Jersey Division of State Police is the lead agency
enforcing the boating laws and regulations in the State of New Jersey. The U.S. Coast Guard
(USCG) also has enforcement authority on all federally controlled waters.
SL 2. Age Restrictions
A person must be at least 13 years old to operate vessels under 1 HP, vessels powered by 12-
volt electric trolling motors, or vessels 12' or longer with less than 10 total HP. Operators of all
other power vessels, including personal watercraft (PWC), must be at least 16 years old.
SL 3. Boater Safety Education Requirements
Effective January 9, 2005, there are several important aspects of the new boater education
and safety laws. First, the law applies to all people age 16 years and older who operate
registered vessels above 12 feet that are defined as power vessels under the law. Operators
holding a U.S. Coast Guard license are not required to complete a New Jersey boat safety
course. The law becomes effective over a staggered period of time. Specifically, as of 2007,
any boater born on or after January 1, 1959, must take the course immediately. Persons born
after December 31, 1948, and on or before December 31, 1958, must complete the course
before June 1, 2008. Any person born prior to 1949 needs to have taken the course before
June 1, 2009.
Out-of-State boaters 18 years of age and older, however, who operate a power vessel for less
than 90 days a year in New Jersey do not have to take a New Jersey boat safety course if they
present proof of similar education from NASBLA, the Coast Guard or other state. Person
purchasing a power vessel for the first time do not have to take a boat safety course until 30
days after the purchase if they complete a State approved “pre-first time instruction” course
provided for at the dealership. The law allows the Superintendent of State Police to develop
an “experienced boater test”. Persons taking and passing the test will not be required to
complete the boat safety course. The test is required to be developed using national
In addition, anyone operating a PWC must also have a boating safety certification. Persons
convicted of certain boating offenses whose privilege to operate a vessel has been revoked by
the court must also obtain boating safety certification. A boat safety course approved by the
Superintendent of State Police must be successfully completed to earn a boat safety
Operators on non-tidal waters must also have a New Jersey Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV)
boating license, in addition to a state boating safety certificate.
SL 4. Vessel Registration
Vessels on New Jersey waters must be registered and numbered. Applications for motorboat
registration may be obtained from marinas, boat dealers, or at the New Jersey Division of
Motor Vehicles (DMV). The following vessels are exempt:
• Vessels operated under a federally approved numbering system of another state and
operated within New Jersey state waters on a transient basis;
• Documented vessels from other states operated in this state in a transient status only;
• Vessels from foreign countries in New Jersey temporarily;
• Vessels owned by the United States, a state, subdivision or agency;
• A ship’s lifeboat;
• Vessels used only for racing while competing in an authorized race;
• A non-powered sailboat or vessel used only on small lakes, ponds or within private
• Vessels 12 feet or less in length;
• A non-powered kayak or canoe.
All documented vessels for which the owner maintains, owns, rents, leases or otherwise
occupies space in New Jersey, other than on a transient basis, must be registered in New
Jersey according to the established fee schedule. Documented vessels need not display
numbers but must display validation decals.
Vessels that must be registered must carry the registration certificate onboard while the vessel
is operating. Operators on non-tidal waters must have a DMV boating license, along with a
state boating safety certificate.
All registered vessels must display their registration numbers on the exterior of the boat’s hull.
The numbers have three parts: a prefix with the letters NJ, to indicate the state; the body with
not more than four Arabic numerals; and the suffix with no more than two letters. A hyphen or
an equivalent space equal to a number or letter must separate the three parts. The number
must be painted or attached to each side of the fore part of the vessel, must be read from left
to right, and located in such position as to provide maximum visibility.
The validation decals must be placed on each side of the vessel at least 3 inches away from
the registration number towards the back of the vessel. In the event the vessel is sold, the
seller must remove the decals.
Vessel Titling: Only vessels longer than 12 feet must have a boat title. Owners of new
vessels will need the manufacturer’s certificate of origin to apply for a title at the local DMV. If
the vessel was purchased from a New Jersey owner, you must complete the assignment
section on back of the title, have the seller sign it, and take the title to the local DMV. If the
vessel purchased was registered in another state, you must take the title or the most recent
vessel registration, together with a signed and notarized statement attesting to the accuracy
of the HIN.
You will need the HIN number, the make, type of boat, year, the source of power, and your
driver’s license number to complete the vessel titling process at your local DMV office.
SL 5. Maximum Loading and Horsepower
The State of New Jersey does not have any maximum loading and horsepower requirements
that are in addition to federal regulations. To review federal regulations, refer to the section
on Capacity Plates included in Chapter 1 of this course.
The following information was approved by NASBLA and is included in Chapter 1 of the
It is required for all mono-hull boats under 20 feet built on or after November 1, 1972 to have
a capacity plate approved by the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG). In addition some manufacturers
voluntarily install capacity plates on boats larger than 20 feet. This plate must be visible from
the operator’s station. The capacity plate lists a safe motor size, the maximum number of
persons to be carried onboard and the total weight the boat can carry including persons,
motor and gear. When operating your boat be sure to adhere to the restrictions listed on the
capacity plate. Not only is it dangerous to overpower or overload a small boat since they can
swamp or capsize more easily but also illegal. In many states, there are fines and penalties
for exceeding capacity recommendations, including carrying more than the maximum number
For vessels that are not equipped with a capacity plate, the following formula can be used to
calculate the number of persons (averaging 150 lbs each) the vessel can carry safely in good
Number of people = vessel length (feet) X vessel width (feet) ÷ 15
SL 6. Equipment and Lighting Requirements
The USCG sets minimum safety standards for vessels and associated equipment. To meet
these standards, some of the equipment must be USCG-approved. All boats operating on New
Jersey waters must carry and, if required, have in operation, acceptable personal flotation
devices (PFDs), visual distress signals, fire extinguishers (whose number and type depend on
boat size), sounding devices, backfire flame arrestor, ventilation systems, and navigation
lights as required by federal law. If a boat manufacturer installs the safety equipment, it
should not be assumed that the vessel is properly equipped at time of purchase. Boat owners
are responsible for ensuring that his or her vessel meets USCG regulations in accordance with
vessel size and the waters in which the vessel is being operated. To review the federal
requirements for safety equipment, refer to Chapter 2 of this course.
All vessels, except surfboards, racing shells, rowing sculls and racing kayaks, must be
equipped with one PFD of the correct size for each person onboard.
All PFDs must be readily accessible and in serviceable condition.
Vessels more than 16 feet in length must carry one Type IV (throwable) USCG-approved
flotation device in addition to the required number of wearable type PFDs.
Mandatory PFD Usage
All children 12 years old and under must wear a USCG-approved PFD while onboard any
vessel that is underway. The PFD may be removed if the child is inside a fully enclosed,
permanent part of the vessel that is designed by the manufacturer to carry passengers.
All vessels operated on New Jersey waters must adhere to the federal regulations on the
number of fire extinguishers required on each vessel. All fire extinguishers must be labeled as
USCG-approved and must be in serviceable condition. To review federal fire extinguisher
requirements, refer to Chapter 2 of this course.
Flame Arrestor Device
All vessels operated on New Jersey waters must adhere to the federal regulations on the
installation of a backfire flame arrestor. All devices must be USCG-approved. To review federal
backfire flame arrestor requirements, refer to Chapter 2 of this course.
Boats equipped with gasoline engines if built after April 25, 1940, and before August 1, 1980,
• At least two ventilation ducts fitted with cowls or their equivalent for the purpose of
properly and efficiently ventilating the bilges of every engine and fuel tank
• At least one exhaust duct installed so as to extend to the lower portion of the bilge, and
• At least one intake duct installed so as to extend to a point at least midway to the
bilge, or at least bellow the level of the carburetor air intake.
For boats built after July 31, 1978 and before August 1, 1980, the requirement for ventilation
of the fuel tank compartment can be omitted if there is no electrical source of ignition in the
fuel tank compartment and if the fuel tank vents to the outside of the boat.
All boats built after August 1, 1980 equipped with gasoline engines must have USCG-approved
ventilation systems. The operator or owner of the vessel must keep these ventilation systems
in good condition.
Visual Distress Signals
After January 1, 1981, all recreational boats must carry visual distress signals. Exceptions
include the following boats during daytime operation:
• Recreational boats under 16 feet in length.
• Boats participating in events such as races, regattas or marine parades.
• Open sailboats without motors and under 26 feet in length.
• Manually propelled boats.
The boat mentioned in the previous list, as well as boats less than 16 feet in length operating
in coastal waters, need only have night signals when operating at night. All other recreational
boats must be equipped with both night and day signaling devices.
A wide variety of signaling devices, both pyrotechnic and non-pyrotechnic, can be on board to
meet the requirements. If pyrotechnic devices are selected, a minimum of three must be
carried. Any combination can be carried if they add up to three signals for day use and three
signals for night use.
Sound Producing Devices
All vessels must have a sound-producing device that makes an efficient sound signal during
periods of reduced visibility to avert collisions or to signal intentions. Any vessel under 40 feet
in length must have onboard a whistle or horn. Vessels larger than 40 feet in length must
have a whistle or horn and a bell.
If vessel construction began before December 25, 1981 and the boat is under 20 meters in
length, it must display:
• A green light on the starboard (right) side of the boat
• A red light on the port (left) side of the boat
• A masthead light (225 degrees) and a stern light (135 degrees), or a 360 degrees
If vessel construction began after December 24, 1981 and the boat is 12 meters or more in
length, it must display:
• A green light on the starboard (right) side of the boat
• A red light on the port (left) side of the boat
• A masthead light (225 degrees) and a stern light (135 degrees).
If vessel construction began after December 24, 1981 and the boat is under 12 meters in
length, it may exhibit the same lights required for vessels under 20 meters when the
construction was started before December 25, 1981.
Sailing Vessels and Vessels under Oars:
Sailing vessels under sail alone must display:
• Red and green sidelights visible from a distance of at least one mile on a dark clear
• A stern light visible from a distance of at least two miles.
Sailing vessels of less than 7 meters must display, and vessels under oars may display, if
practicable, the lights prescribed above, but if not, it must have ready at hand an electric
torch or lighted lantern showing a white light.
Between sunset and sunrise, all vessels must use a white light visible for 360 degrees and
visible from a distance of two miles whenever they are moored or anchored away from dock.
SL 7. Marine Sanitation Devices
New Jersey law prohibits the discharge of any sewage, treated or untreated, into the state’s
freshwaters. Recreational vessels with installed toilet facilities must have onboard an operable
marine sanitation device (MSD). Type III MSDs must have the “Y”-valve secured to prevent
waste from being discharged into the water.
In New Jersey, all boats 65 feet in length and under may use a Type I, II or III MSD. Those
boats over 65 feet must use only Type II or III MSDs. All MSDs must be tested and certified
by the U.S. Coast Guard and have a label with the name of the manufacturer and the
For information about marine pumpout stations, call 1-800-ASK-FISH.
SL 8. Muffling Devices
To reduce noise, every vessel that has an outboard motor, inboard motor or both must be
equipped with factory-installed mufflers, exhaust water manifolds or other effective muffling
system. The muffling system must be maintained in good working order at all times. Vessels
operating in races or under other operation with a race test permit issued by the State Police
Vessels emitting a sound level in excess of 90 dB measured at a distance of not less than 4
feet above the water at a point where the transom gunwale and port or starboard gunwale
intersects are prohibited.
SL 9. Boating Accidents
If a boat is involved in an accident, the operator must give necessary assistance to the other
vessel and passengers, as long as it will not personally endanger the operator, his or her
passengers, crew or the vessel. The operator must also give his or her name, address, and the
identifying number of his or her vessel to anyone injured in the accident and to the owner of
any damaged property.
If a boating accident results in the death or disappearance of a person, you must immediately
notify the local New Jersey Division of State Police, and are required to file a full description of
the accident via a written report with the New Jersey State Police, Marine Law Enforcement
station. All other accidents that resulted in injury or property damage must be reported within
10 days. When the accident results in death, injury or property damage in excess of $2,000,
you and the other operator must file a full report of the accident with the New Jersey Division
of State Police, Marine Law Enforcement station in the area where the accident occurred.
SL 10. Vessel Speed Restrictions
It is unlawful to operate a vessel at a speed that may cause injury to life or limb or damage to
property. All power vessels must proceed at slow speed when passing:
• Within 200 feet or less from any marina, pier, dock or wharf.
• Through bridge spans.
• Through any area of less than 200 feet in width.
• Emergency vessels displaying flashing or rotating lights.
All vessels must operate at no wake speed on areas marked as “Slow Speed/No Wake.”
Operators are responsible for any damage caused by the wake of their vessels.
SL 11. Mooring to Markers or Buoys
It is unlawful to moor or attach a vessel to a beacon, light, buoy (except a mooring buoy) or
any other navigational aid installed on public waters by proper authorities. It is also unlawful
to tamper with, move, displace, damage or destroy any navigational aid.
Any person who willfully moors, grounds or otherwise attaches or fastens, or authorizes,
causes or permits to be moored, grounded or otherwise attached or fastened, any boat, barge
or raft to or upon the riparian lands of the state, for a period of more than 10 days
consecutively, will be guilty of a misdemeanor. This violation is also deemed a nuisance.
SL 12. Reckless and Careless Operation
Operating a vessel in a reckless or careless manner is prohibited. Reckless and careless
• Operating a vessel in a way that interferes with the free and proper use of the waters
by other boaters.
• Exceeding the manufacturer’s capacity plate specifications.
• Operating under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
• Operating a vessel within 50 feet of a buoyed divers-down flag.
• Weaving a vessel through congested waterway traffic or swerving at the last possible
moment to avoid collision.
SL 13. Interference with Navigation
It is unlawful to:
• Anchor a vessel under a bridge or in the traveled portion of a river, channel or other
waterbody that will prevent or interfere with any other passing vessel.
• Obstruct a boat ramp, pier, wharf or access to any facility.
• Obstruct or mark the waters of New Jersey in a way that may endanger the operation
of watercraft or conflict with the marking system prescribed by the State of New
• Operate or otherwise position a vessel, other object or any person in a way that would
obstruct or impede the normal flow of traffic on the lakes of this state.
• swim or dive in a narrow, confined or improved channel, marked fairway, or under a
bridge because it will obstruct or interfere with navigation
SL 14. Boating Under the Influence
Operating a vessel while under the influence of intoxicating liquor, a narcotic or any controlled
substance is prohibited. A person operating a vessel will be deemed under the influence of the
alcohol if his or her blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is 0.08% or more.
If the BAC is 0.08% or higher but less than 0.10%, the violator will face a fine of not less than
$250 nor more than $400, will lose the privilege of operating a vessel for a period of 12
months, and will forfeit his or her driver’s license for a period of 3 months.
If the BAC is 0.10% or higher, or the violator is operating or allows another to operate under
the influence of intoxicating liquor, a narcotic or any controlled substance, he or she will be
fined from $300 to $500, be prohibited from operating a vessel for one year, and lose his or
her driver’s license for 7 to 12 months.
A person guilty of a second offense will face a fine of not less than $500 to no more than
$1000, perform community service for a period of 30 days, be imprisoned for a term not less
than 48 hours to no more than 90 days which can be suspended or served on probation, and
will lose the privilege of operating a boat for a period of 2 years and their driver’s license for a
period of 2 years.
A person found guilty of a third or subsequent offense will face a fine of $1000, imprisonment
for a term not less than 180 days, lose the privilege of operating a vessel in New Jersey for a
period of 10 years and their driver’s license for a period of 10 years.
SL 15. Mandatory Violator Education
Persons convicted of certain boating offenses whose privilege to operate a vessel has been
revoked by the court (e.g., operating under the influence) are required to posses a boat safety
certificate when operating a power vessel. In order to receive this certification, he or she must
successfully complete a boat safety course approved by the Superintendent of the State
SL 16. PWC Regulations
In addition to the other rules and requirements for a power vessel, the following rules apply to
the use of a PWC on New Jersey waters:
• It is unlawful to operate a PWC during the hours between sunset and sunrise or during
times of restricted visibility.
• It is unlawful to operate a PWC on the waters of Point Pleasant or Cape May canals.
• PWCs must proceed at a safe speed at all times.
• No one may operate a PWC so as to become airborne or completely leave the water
while crossing the wake of another vessel within 100 feet of the vessel that creates the
• It is unlawful to operate a PWC within 50 feet of a bathing beach that is marked by
buoys or signs.
• It is unlawful to operate a PWC above idle speed within 50 feet of a shore or 50 feet of
a person in the water.
• A person operating a PWC and all passengers must always wear a USCG-approved
Type I, II, III or V Hybrid PFD.
• If the PWC is equipped with a lanyard cut-off switch, the operator must wear the safety
switch lanyard at all times when the vessel is in operation.
SL 17. Water Ski Regulations
All operators of power vessels towing a person on water skis or similar devices must keep a
distance of at least 200 feet of any wharf, marina, dock, pier, bridge, structure, abutment, or
persons in the water and a distance of at least 100 feet from any other craft, shore, and aid to
navigation or mooring.
A person towing another person on water skis must be accompanied by a third person onboard
to act as an observer. The use of wide-angle mirrors in New Jersey is not acceptable.
Towlines must be between 35 and 75 feet long.
Water skiing is prohibited from sunset to sunrise.
Skiers must wear a USCG-approved Type I, II, III or V PFD at all times.
Ski boats must carry an orange or red ski flag. It must be displayed a minimum of 4 feet
above the highest part of the boat, and be at least 12 inches on each edge of the triangle. It
must be displayed during each of the following activities only:
• While pulling or retrieving a skier;
• While a skier is in the water; or
• While a towline is in the water.
SL 18. Divers-Down Flag
Federal navigation rules require vessels restricted in the ability to maneuver to display
appropriate day shapes or lights. To meet this requirement, recreational vessels engaged in
diving activities may exhibit a rigid replica of the international code flag "A" or a “Divers-
Down” flag not less than one meter in height, or at night, display navigation lights 360
degrees red on top, white in middle and red on the bottom.
Those diving in New Jersey must display a Divers-Down flag. This flag must be a minimum of
14 inches by 16 inches, must be rigid to enhance visibility and have a red background with a
diagonal white stripe. The Divers-Down flag may only be displayed when diving is in progress.
Vessels may not operate within 50 feet of any displayed Divers-Down flag. No diver may
surface more than 25 feet away from his or her displayed flag except in cases of emergency.
It is unlawful to swim or dive in a narrow, confined or improved channel or in a marked
fairway or under a bridge, as it will interfere with navigation.
SL 19. Liveries (Rental Agencies)
All liveries should provide renters with information on rules, laws, and basic navigation and
boating safety for the state in which the rented vessel is operated. New Jersey does not
currently have any additional laws governing liveries.
SL 20. Environmental Awareness
Aquatic Nuisance Species
Introducing non-native species into New Jersey waters can upset the balance of the
ecosystem. Aquatic nuisance species most often spread between waterways by hitching a ride
on vessels and trailers. When transplanted into new waters, these organisms proliferate,
displacing native species and damaging the water resource. The non-native species that has
caused the greatest concern is the zebra mussel due the possibility that it will destroy New
Jersey’s natural reproduction of lake trout.
To prevent spreading zebra mussels to un-infested waters, you must observe the following
practices before transporting your boat to a new body of water:
• Drain the bilge, live wells and engine cooling system.
• Dump any bait buckets.
• Inspect the boat by checking the hull, trim plates, anchors, and the trailer.
• Wash down the boat with hot water (140 F) and allow the boat and trailer to sit for 2
days to dry.
WHAT TO DO IF YOU SEE ZEBRA MUSSELS:
• Note the date and precise locations where the mussel or its shell(s) were found;
• Take the mussel with you (several, if possible) and store in rubbing alcohol (in any
case, DON'T throw it back in the water); and
• IMMEDIATELY call Dr. Eleanor Bochenek, New Jersey Sea Grant Zebra Mussel Project
Coordinator, phone (908) 505-8941, or New Jersey Sea Grant headquarters.
For more information on Zebra Mussels refer to the Sea Grant Non-indigenous Species Site
(SGNIS) at SGNIS: Sea Grant Nonindigenous Species
For additional information on New Jersey Boating laws and regulations visit:
New Jersey State Police - Marine Services
and State of New Jersey - Motor Vehicle Commission
Also refer to New Jersey Statutes Annotated, Title 12 – Commerce and Navigation, which
includes the New Jersey Boat Act of 1962, as amended. Go to New Jersey Legislature
and click on Statutes from the menu on the left to get to Title 12.