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Boat Name Placement and Lettering Requirements

Boat Name Placement and Lettering Requirements

Giving your boat a creative new name is fun, but boat name placement matters too. Be sure to letter her moniker properly so it is visible and compliant with documentation regulations.

State Registered Vessel Requirements

For state registered recreational vessels, here are the guidelines for displaying your boat name and registration numbers:

  • Letter Height – Letters must be at least 3 inches tall and numbers at least 4 inches tall. They should be proportional and readable.
  • Contrast – Letters and numbers must contrast the hull color. If the hull is multi-colored, a contrasting background color block may be required.
  • Letter Spacing – Letters and numbers must be separated from each other by a space equal to the width of one letter, not including “1” or “I”.
  • Placement – Name and numbers must be permanently affixed on the forward half of the hull, usually on both sides of the bow.
  • Materials – Name and numbers can be painted on or use durable vinyl decals. Placards must be bolted on.
  • Validation Sticker – Display the state registration validation sticker within 6 inches of the number.

Federally Documented Vessel Requirements

For federally documented recreational vessels, here are the USCG requirements:

  • Name and Hailing Port – Must be marked together on the exterior hull in letters at least 4 inches tall.
  • Name Only – The vessel name must also appear on both sides of the bow.
  • Number – The official documentation number must be in block style numbering at least 3 inches tall prefixed with “NO.” Display on an interior structural surface.
  • Materials – The name, number and hailing port can be made using any durable materials.
  • Additional Rules – If the name and hailing port are obscured by dinghies or accessories, it does not have to be duplicated. Lettering does not need to be in a block style.

Boat Name Ideas and Resources

  • Choose a short, memorable name that reflects your boat’s personality and purpose.
  • Consider personalizing the name, like a family member’s name or personal hobby.
  • Use boat name idea sites and tools like StreetGlo’s boat name suggestion tool.
  • Search the NOAA vessel documentation database to see if a name is original.
  • Avoid overused names like “Obsession” or “Reel Deal” unless you customize them.

Ordering Boat Lettering and Plaques

Once you’ve settled on the perfect unique boat name, it’s time to order lettering. Here are some options:

  • Order vinyl boat lettering decals from a local sign shop or online retailer. Popular for ease of application.
  • Hire a professional sign painter to paint the name directly on your boat. Provides a classic, nautical look.
  • Order a personalized metal or plastic plaque with your vessel name, hailing port, and documentation numbers. Easily bolted on.
  • For sailboats, lettering on the boom is a clean option that meets requirements.

Follow the above guidelines on letter size, spacing, and placement when ordering your boat lettering. Investing time in selecting a meaningful, creative boat name and properly displaying it adds a personal touch to your maritime investment.

Boat Documentation Number Plaque

For federally documented vessels, a metal or plastic plaque is recommended to display your documentation number. Here are some tips:

  • Documentation numbers must be at least 3 inches tall in block style lettering.
  • Display the full documentation number prefixed with “NO.”
  • Mount the plaque in a protected area below deck, such as the engine room.
  • Materials like stainless steel, aluminum, or ABS plastic are durable and weatherproof.
  • Consider ordering a combo plaque with both documentation number and vessel name.

Properly documenting and lettering your vessel is important for legal compliance. But it also allows you to put your own creative stamp on your boat! Follow these guidelines to name and letter your boat according to regulations.

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Steve Momot

Steve is an accomplished professional photographer and marketer who specializes in the Fishing, Yacht, and Boating industry. With a strong presence as an influencer and marketing expert in the Marine Industry, he has made a significant impact in the field. Additionally, Steve is the original creator and co-founder of Sportfishtrader. Prior to his career as a marine photographer, he gained extensive experience as a licensed boat and car dealer in South Florida.

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