State ends 'snail mail' reminders about boat-license renewals; auditor explains options to renew registration

Washington state boat owners will no longer receive reminders in the mail when it's time to renew their vessel registration.

At least not by "snail mail".

The state Department of Licensing recently mailed postcards to all vessel owners, notifying them that the department, beginning this year, will no longer be mailing renewal notices via the U.S. mail.

The department, however, is also encouraging boat owners to go online and provide an e-mail address to which such notices can be sent in the future.

San Juan County Auditor Milene Henley advises boat owners to renew their licenses either online, at, or in Friday Harbor at the auditor's office in the county courthouse (steps to renew online are explained below).

All vessel decals expire on June 30.

To renew in person, bring along the vessel's WN number, hull identification number (HIN), or last year's registration. The auditor's office is not able to look up vessel information by owner's name alone. You can also renew by mail by first calling the auditor's office with the boat WN number, HIN or 2009 registration, which will enable the auditor to determine the appropriate renewal fee. A check can then be mailed to the auditor's office and a new decal will be issued in the mail.

For more info, contact the auditor's office at (360) 378-2161; mailing address is PO Box 638, Friday Harbor, WA 98250.

To renew online, go to and click on "Skip a trip, go online" and select "RENEW". From the drop-down box, select "Vessel decals", and then select "Start renewal".

Once an online renewal is complete, the transaction will be process by the auditor's office, and you can choose to have the new decals either sent to an address via the U.S. Postal Service or to pick them up at the auditor's office.

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