Knox County Tennessee

Registering Boats or Personal Watercraft

All boats should be registered in the State of Tennessee. Boats can be registered at any of our office locations in the Knox County area. New residents may be required to pay sales tax when registering a watercraft. We collect the sales tax and complete the necessary boating registration documents for the State.

If your boat and/or trailer was purchased from a Tennessee Dealer, the Office of the Knox County Clerk does not collect the Tennessee State Sales Tax. The dealer will issue the form “Application for Boat Certificate of Number”, to the customer upon dealer certifying payment of sales tax on the form. If the dealer does not provide the form, please contact the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency at 615-781-5270 or obtain the form from one of the Knox County Clerk’s locations. Please note that in this instance the Clerk will not complete the certification, only the dealer.

To register a boat bought from an individual, please submit the previous owner’s Boat Registration Card* (if possible) and a Bill of Sale. The Bill of Sale must include the make, year, hull number, manufacturer’s number, and length. It must also specify whether the boat is made of fiberglass, aluminum, etc. *If you do not have the previous owner’s Boat Registration Card, you will need the previous owner’s name and complete address. Also, if you have Tennessee registration numbers affixed to the boat, you will need to give us that information.

Tennessee State sales tax will be collected by the County Clerk. The clerk's fee for registering a boat is $7.00. Once the sales tax and fee is paid to the Clerk, the boat owner will be required to mail the Application for Boat Certification Number, together with the appropriate registration fees, to the following address: Tennessee Boat Registration, P.O. Box 41729, Nashville, TN 37204-1729.

Registering and licensing a boat trailer is not required by the State of Tennessee, however, other states may require boat trailer owners to do so. Because of the differences in laws from state to state, it is strongly recommended that all boat trailers be titled and registered if the boat trailer will be traveling outside the boundaries of the State of Tennessee. It is also strongly recommended that all boat trailers be titled and registered due to theft problems. A boat trailer can be traced much more easily if titled and registered.

Boat Registration by dealers and manufacturers can be transferred from one vessel to another. A copy of the business license and sales tax number must accompany the application for a dealer or manufacturer number. Such vessels are to be used for demonstration purposes only and more than one vessel may not be operated simultaneously with the same number. In addition, vessels being demonstrated must have the Certificate of Number on board and the registration number must be correctly displayed. However, such vessels may display the number by having it attached to removable signs which can be temporarily but firmly attached to the vessel.

Previously titled boat trailers that have been purchased from an individual can be retitled by having the previous owner sign on the back and submitting the title to the Knox County Clerk. The new boat trailer owner will also be required to pay Tennessee State Sales Tax and a fee of $25.25 up to $92.75, depending on the length of the trailer. When you purchase a boat trailer from an individual, you will need to bring to our office a Bill of Sale signed by both the seller and the purchaser. We will collect the applicable tax and certify to T.W.R.A. that sales tax was paid.

Boat license renewals are not handled through the County Clerk’s office. The Tennessee Wildlife Resource Agency has authorized the Knox County Clerk’s office to register all boats but not to renew prior registrations. The Tennessee Wildlife Resource Agency will mail your renewal form to you. You will mail the completed form with the registration renewal fee to: Tennessee Boat Registration, P.O. Box 41729, Nashville, TN 37204-1729. You may also obtain an “Application for Boat Certificate of Number” by calling the T.W.R.A. at 615-781-5270 or renew your registration online by visiting If you have questions about renewing your boat registration, you may call the local T.W.R.A. office at 1-800-624-7406.

For further instructions on watercraft go to TWRA Boat Registration Information or call one of our local offices.

We are proud sponsors of the State Organ Donor Awareness Program, so when visiting our office, please consider donating a dollar to this worthy cause. We welcome any questions, comments and suggestions that will help us serve you better.