DEPARTMENT OF NATURAL RESOURCES  
LAW ENFORCEMENT DIVISION  
NUMBERING OF VESSELS AND MOTORBOATS  
(By authority conferred on the department of natural resources by Part 801 of 1994 PA  
451, as amended, MCL 324.80101 et seq.)  
R 281.1201 Definitions.  
Rule 1. "Act" means Part 801 of the natural resources and environmental protection act,  
1994 PA 451, as amended, MCL 324.80101 et seq. Terms defined in the act have the  
same meanings when used in these rules.  
History: 1979 AC; 2013 AACS.  
R 281.1202 Applicability.  
Rule 2. These rules apply to all motorboats and all other vessels 12 feet in length or  
over which are required to be numbered or to display a decal indicating payment of  
fees under the act and which are operated on any waters within the territorial limits of  
this state, including those waters of the Great Lakes which are under the jurisdiction of  
this state.  
History: 1979 AC.  
R 281.1203 Form of number.  
Rule 3. (1) Each number required by the act shall consist of capital letters MC  
denoting the state of Michigan followed by 4 numerals followed by 2 capital letters  
(example: MC 0000 AA).  
(2) A number suffix shall not include the letters I, O, or Q which may be mistaken for  
numerals.  
History: 1979 AC.  
R 281.1204 Numbers; display; size; color.  
Rule 4. (1) Each number required by the act shall meet all of the following  
requirements:  
(a) Be painted on or permanently attached to each side of the forward half of the vessel  
or motorboat except as allowed by subrule (2) or required by subrule (3).  
(b) Be in plain vertical block characters of not less than 3 inches in height.  
(c) Contrast with the color of the background and be distinctly visible and legible.  
(d) Have spaces or hyphens that are equal to the width of the letter "M" between the  
letter and number groupings (example: MC 0000 AA or MC--0000--AA).  
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(e) Read from left to right.  
(f) Be as high above the water lines as practical.  
(2) When a vessel or motorboat is used by a manufacturer or dealer for testing or  
demonstrating, the number may be painted on or attached to removable plates that are  
temporarily but firmly attached to each side of the forward half of the vessel or  
motorboat.  
(3) On vessels or motorboats so configured that a number on the hull or superstructure  
would not be easily visible, the number must be painted on or attached to a backing plate  
that is attached to the forward half of the vessel or motorboat so that the number is visible  
from each side of the vessel or motorboat.  
History: 1979 AC; 2013 AACS.  
R 281.1205 Other numbers prohibited.  
Rule 5. A person may not use a vessel or motorboat to which these rules apply that  
has any number that is not issued by the secretary of state for that vessel or motorboat  
on its forward half.  
History: 1979 AC.  
R 281.1206 Documented vessels; decals; display.  
Rule 6. (1) Each decal required by the act to indicate payment of fees required of vessels  
documented by the United States coast guard or a federal agency successor thereto as  
provided by the act shall be:  
(a) Identical to the validation decal prescribed in R 281.1208.  
(b) Be permanently affixed to each side of the forward half of the vessel.  
(c) Be as high above the water line as practical.  
(2) When a decal is lost, destroyed, or defaced, the owner of the documented vessel  
shall apply to the secretary of state for a duplicate decal.  
History: 1979 AC; 2013 AACS.  
R 281.1207 Removal of number.  
Rule 7. The person whose name appears on a certificate of number as the owner of a  
motorboat or vessel shall remove the number and validation decal from the vessel  
when 1 of the following occurs:  
(a) The motorboat or vessel is documented by the United States coast guard or  
federal agency successor thereto; however, the decal prescribed in R 281.1206 shall then  
be displayed.  
(b) The certificate of number is invalid under the act.  
(c) The motorboat or vessel is no longer principally used in this state.  
History: 1979 AC.  
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R 281.1208 Validation decals; display; size; color.  
Rule 8. (1) The validation decal required by the act shall meet the following  
requirements:  
(a) Be permanently attached to each side of the forward half of the motorboat or vessel.  
(b) Be approximately 3 inches square.  
(c) Indicate the year in which the decal expires by the colors, blue, international orange,  
green, and red, in rotation beginning with blue for decals that expire in 1973 (example:  
decal expires December 31, 1973--blue, expires December 31, 1974--international  
orange, expires December 31, 1975--green, expires December 31, 1976--red, expires  
December 31, 1977--blue, etc.).  
(d) Be displayed on each side of the motorboat or vessel 3 inches beyond the last letter  
of the assigned number and on the same strake or level as the number.  
(2) When a validation decal is lost, destroyed, or defaced, the owner of the motorboat or  
vessel shall apply to the secretary of state for a duplicate.  
History: 1979 AC; 2013 AACS.  
R 281.1209 Rescission.  
Rule 9. Rule 51 of the general rules of the department relating to numbering of  
motorboats, being R 281.1051 of the Michigan Administrative Code and appearing on  
page 5427 of the 1970-71 Annual Supplement to the Code, is rescinded.  
History: 1979 AC.  
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