1999 Boat Registration Statistics

NMMA Press Release
3 Nov 2000

NMMA Press Release


Microsoft Word spreadsheet containing the stats by state
CHICAGO, November 3, 2000 - - A report released by the United States Coast Guard (USCG) states that 180,000 more boats were registered in the U.S. in 1999, an increase of 1.4 percent over 1998 to 12.7 million. While the numbers reflect a growing market, not all types of boats experienced growth in registrations last year: sterndrive boats increased by 8.9 percent and auxiliary inboard sail gained 44.5 percent while outboard boats were relatively flat and inboard boats and auxiliary outboard sail decreased by 2.2 percent and 4.9 percent respectively.

"The increase in last year's registration results continue a relatively steady growth trend dating from 1972 and is evidence of gains seen on the manufacturing side of the industry, which translates into sales of new marine engines, accessories and support services," says National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA) Market Statistics manager Jim Petru. NMMA estimates indicate that 605,000 new boats were sold at retail in 1999, and that there are more than 16.8 million boats owned across the U.S. taking into consideration that many small, non-powered craft are not required to be registered by the states or simply not registered by owners. This figure includes large categories such as canoes (120,000 units) and utility boats (approximately 35,000 units) many of which are not required to be registered.

"States are really hurting themselves if all eligible boats are not registered," says Petru. "Registration numbers are used to determine allocation of the Aquatic Resource, or Wallop-Breaux, Trust Fund." This fund is used to finance boating education, law enforcement, programs to enhance water access for boaters and anglers and enhancing sportfish restoration efforts. The money provided for the fund is paid through taxes, mostly on boat fuel sales, and is divided among the states based on the number of boats registered.

Boat registration numbers, as tracked by the USCG, indicate that the East North Central part of the country (IL, IN, MI, OH, WI) is the top ranking region in the country with 2.6 million registrations, accounting for one out of every five registered boats. Of interest is that this region did not experience an increase in total boat registrations during '99.

The South Atlantic region (DE, DC, FL, GA, MD, NC, SC, VA, WV) continues as the second ranking region with 2.4 million registrations -- growing to just under one of five total registered boats with a 2.5 percent increase during the year. Rounding out the top three regions is West North Central (IA KS, MN, MO, NE, ND, SD) with 1.6 million registered boats and 12.5 percent of the total. The West North Central region, like its counterpart to the east, was relatively flat with a 0.5 percent increase for the year.

The only region with fewer boats in 1999 than 1998 was the West South Central region (AR, LA, OK, TX) which reported 24,000 fewer registrations in 1999 than in 1998. The top 20 states had almost three of every four boats registered in the U.S. and accounted for 9.5 million boats. The top 10 states for boat registrations account for just over half of all registered boats at 6.4 million. In the last four years no state has dropped out of the Top 20 which in order includes: MI, CA, FL, MN, TX, WI, NY, SC, OH, IL, NC, PA, MO, GA, TN, LA, MI, AL, WA, VA. There was some movement between the state rankings - South Carolina moved up two positions ahead of both Ohio and Illinois to the number 8 ranking, North Carolina and Pennsylvania swapped positions for the number 11 spot, and Georgia jumped over Tennessee and Louisiana to the number 14 position.

Microsoft Word spreadsheet containing the stats by state

Return to Recreational Boat Building Industry Home Page