Personal Injury Attorneys » Boating Accident Lawyers » What Are the Legal Requirements for Owning a Boat in Nevada?

Owning a boat in Nevada can be a lot of fun. When you own a boat in Nevada, you need to follow many rules and regulations to ensure the safety of those around you. Those injured on a boat must work carefully with an experienced boat accident attorney to build a compensation claim. Here’s what you need to know about owning a boat in Nevada.

Boat and Jeep


    There are numerous legal requirements for owning a boat in Nevada, including registration requirements, fitness for use, and drunk boating prohibitions. Nevada’s boating laws are listed in Nevada Revised Statutes Chapter 488, the “Nevada Boat Act.” The boating laws aim to promote safety and uniform laws for boating throughout the state. Municipalities may adopt rules that match state law.

    A vessel is every watercraft used for transportation except a seaplane. The Nevada Boat Act covers any vessel in the state. Motorboats are vessels propelled by machinery.

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    Numbering and certificate of ownership requirements for Nevada motorboats

    Motorboat owners in Nevada must comply with the following registration and identification requirements:

    • All motorboat owners must register for a certificate of ownership (NRS 488.075)
    • The vehicle’s hull number must be marked in a place available for inspection (NRS 488.065). If a vehicle doesn’t have a hull number, the state will assign one.
    • Motorboat owners must have their certificate of ownership available for inspection (NRS 488.075)
    • You may record a registration number from another state (NRS 488.075)
    • You must notify the state if you destroy or abandon your vessel within ten days (NRS 488.145). If you notify the state of a damaged or abandoned vessel, the state terminates the ownership certificate.
    • You must take the title of the boat when you buy it. You must submit documents to the state showing transfer of ownership with ten days of purchase. You must pay a fee (NRS 488.1793).
    • Update your address within ten days of a change in address (NRS 488.155)

    A certificate of ownership is good for 1-2 years. An expiration date comes with each certification (NRS 488.125). It’s a gross misdemeanor to deface or destroy a hull number or place a false vessel number on a vehicle (NRS 488.171). Lifeboats are not subject to the same certificate and number requirements.

    Requirements to operate a boat in Nevada

    The requirements to operate a boat in Nevada are as follows:

    • A boat must have and operate lights between sunset and sunrise (NRS 488.187). The exact requirements depend on the class of the boat.
    • Personal flotation devices are required. The boat must have one for each person on board. They must be readily accessible in the case of an emergency which means either worn or stored out of the packaging, accessible without a key and ready to wear (NRS 488.193).
    • Life rings and buoys are required in many cases. For larger vessels, they must have a line of at least 30 feet.
    • Fire extinguishers are required
    • A vessel must have a carburetor, flame arrestor, fuel ventilation system, and muffler
    • Sirens are not allowed except for emergency vehicles (NRS 488.197)
    Driving Boat with Child

    Requirements for using a boat in Nevada

    There are restrictions for using a boat in Nevada regarding mooring, diving, regattas, and sewage. Some of these restrictions include:

    • A boat owner wishing to have a mooring buoy must get a permit and pay a fee. Fees are not required for temporary mooring which is when the buoy is removed within 72 hours (NRS 488.259).
    • To organize a regatta or race, you must register the event and get permission (NRS 488.305).
    • If you dive off of your boat below the water’s surface, you must put up a diving flag. If you see a diving flag, you may not operate your boat within 100 feet of the flag (NRS 488.310).
    • It’s unlawful to discharge sewage overboard. Sewage discharge is prohibited whether or not the wastewater is treated. If you’re found responsible for discharging sewage, you may face a 180-day certificate suspension and a civil fine in addition to other penalties (NRS 488.320).

    Drunk boating and drugged boating laws in Nevada

    Nevada law prohibits drunk boating and drugged boating. Nevada law defines drunken boating as operating a boat with a bodily alcohol content of .08 or more or operating under the influence of alcohol. Drugged boating is operating under the influence of any controlled or chemical substance or over the prescribed statutory limit for certain types of illicit drugs (NRS 488.400).

    A drunk driving offense that causes bodily harm may result in 2-20 years in prison (NRS 488.20). Because a drunk boating offense is a serious offense with a possibility of prison time, you have the right to get assistance from an attorney to represent you if you face this type of charge. Reckless boating is also prohibited under Nevada law.

    Nevada boating laws invasive species

    Nevada has boating laws that are intended to prohibit the transfer of invasive species. These laws include:

    • A boat owner or operator must decontaminate their boat after use in an impaired body of water (NRS 488.530)
    • A boater shall comply with requirements for mandatory inspection

    Boating laws for safe operation in Nevada

    Boat owners must comply with the following requirements when they operate their boats in Nevada:

    • Watch out for hazards (NRS 488.540)
    • Render aid as much as possible if a collision occurs (NRS 488.550)
    • File a report if an accident occurs that causes injury or property damage of more than $2,000 (NRS 488.550)
    • Passengers under 13 must wear life jackets (NRS 488.575)
    • Follow speed limits (NRS 488.600)

    Offenses for violations of Nevada’s boating laws are generally misdemeanors.

    Work with our experienced boating accident attorneys in Nevada

    If a boat owner violates a boating law in a way that causes injury to another person, including a passenger on the boat, the violation of the law may serve as evidence of the boat owner’s negligence. Our skilled boating accident attorneys in Nevada can help if you’re hurt in a boating accident. We can help you understand Nevada’s boating laws and what you can do to claim fair compensation. Call us today for a no-obligation, confidential consultation.

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    Call us at (702) 382-0000 anytime to schedule a free consultation. We will work to get you the maximum settlement as quickly as possible so you can move forward on your healing journey.


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      Adam S. Kutner

      With more than 33 years of experience fighting for victims of personal injury in the Las Vegas Valley, attorney Adam S. Kutner knows his way around the Nevada court system and how to get clients their settlement promptly and trouble-free.