0625 Boat Inspection 1 (copy)

The state Department of Natural Resources is checking a boater’s registration and license. The department now requires boat owners to register their boats every year, instead of every three years.

South Carolina requires residents to renew their vehicle registrations every two years, and now resident boat owners are in the same boat — minus a year.

On Wednesday, the state Department of Natural Resources began requiring boat owners to register their boats annually, rather than every three years. The cost of registration has not changed, but boat owners have to pay $10 annually instead of paying $30 to cover three years of registration.

Counties collected property taxes for boats in advance of the new year and notified DNR. Boat owners who paid their property taxes and registration renewal fee were issued a new registration card and decal for their vessels.

Firefighter and tournament angler Wayman Coleman personally likes the new law because it eases the registration process for new owners of used boats.

“It became a headache if you were buying a used boat because if the previous owner didn’t pay the taxes on it you couldn’t get a new registration on it until they paid the property taxes,” he said.

Coleman also said he likes “the fact that the county is handling it.” He prefers the county handle it versus boat owners having to go through the “whole DNR process.”

The change in the registration process will be phased in over the next three years as current boat owners’ registrations expire. If a boat owner’s registration is set to expire in 2021 or 2022 then their decal will be considered valid until that date.

Officials said the new law will align registration with annual tax collections. The boat owner’s county property tax bill will include the annual registration fee and their state Department of Motor Vehicles’ registration fees.

Contact reporter Jonathan Limehouse at 864-943-5644 or follow him on Twitter @jon_limehouse.