how to remove boat registration stickers

Manufacturers love to paste information and warning stickers all over our cars and boats when new. These at times can be a real pain to remove especially if they are a low-quality sticker with extra strong glue.

Today we are going to show you how to remove boat registration stickers, numbers, and decals from my Sea-Doo Jetski. These decals are proving to be quite difficult to take off due to being sun-baked on. Be aware that most USA states do require registration decals and certain warning labels to be visible on JetSkis and Boats.

How to remove boat registration stickers on a Sea-Doo jetski

There are three main items you will require before attempting this DIY decal removal project.

  • Hair dryer or variable temperature heat gun.
  • Cleaning Rags.
  • Mineral turpentine (Mineral Spirits) or 3m adhesive remover.

Start by washing down the decal area with a simple solution of washing liquid and warm water. This will prep the area nicely for the sticker removal process.

how to remove boat registration numbers

Plug in your hair dryer and turn it up to high heat. If you have a variable temperature heat gun turn it down to a very low temperature so as to not damage any plastics or gel coat. We are going to warm up the area until it’s nice and warm. We will then start peeling back the label slowly starting from one corner.

If the boat labels, numbering, and lettering, are hard to get off you can try using a plastic paint scraper. Don’t use the metal ones as they could mark your boat.

Don’t worry if it leaves some glue behind we will take care of that shortly. It is very rare for registration decals and numbers to peel off cleanly. They will always leave some sort of glue behind.

cleaning glue from boat hull

Take a clean microfiber cloth or an old rag and pour a small amount of Mineral Turrentine on it. Test it on a small inconspicuous piece of your vehicle, just in case it reacts badly with the plastic. Rub slowly in a circular motion into the sticker glue, it should come right off.

mineral turps to clean registration stickers

Now use another piece of clean cloth and wipe off any excess Mineral Spirits. You will now have a flawless piece of Gelcoat or plastic ready for a new registration sticker. Or you can leave it bare for a slick clean look.

How to apply boat registration numbers and decals

Once the area has been totally cleaned of any leftover sticky residue you will have to wipe down the area with soapy water again to remove any traces of the mineral turpentine. Failure to do this will cause your stickers to peel off over time.

fully clean boat hull before applying rego stickers and numbers

Make sure to fully dry the area you will be applying your new decals. 

It is always a good idea to do a dry run of the placement of your car or boat stickers. Roughly cut them out to size and move them around the vehicle to get the best place. Once you are happy you can peel off the protective backing and place them on your watercraft, boats, and cars.

Remove any air bubbles trapped under the sticker and rub firmly with your finger to bond the glue to your boat hull.

How to get rid of decal air bubbles

Having trapped air bubbles in your decals not only looks ugly but over time the trapped air will cause your favorite decals to fail and fall off. This is due to the pressure build-up under the sticker.

There are two methods of removing the air bubbles in your labels. One is to squeeze them out with a plastic credit card or you can use a small pin to prick the decal to let the air out.

I prefer to try and squeeze the air bubble out from underneath the decal. Start by pushing all of the smaller bubbles into one big air pocket using a plastic credit card. Then work out this larger bubble slowly to an edge or corner of your decal sticker.

If you are finding that the air pocket won’t budge, then you will have to use a tiny pin to gently prick a small hole to let the air escape. As this hole is small you won’t be able to see it, and it will seal well.

Now that you have finished installing your new registration decals why not take some time to replace your boat or jetski floor mats. It is very much the same procedure it will just take more time.

How to remove decals from aluminum boats

Decals stick very well to Aluminum boats but over time they can become tatters and scratched up.

To remove these decals from Aluminum hulls you will need to heat them up with a heat gun or hair drier to peel them off. If they are sun damaged and will not peel off correctly you will need to buff them off.

Use a rotary buffer with a nylon radial bristle disc. These will cut through the decals without damaging the Aluminum underneath.

Stay away from sandpaper, brass, or metal polishing discs. They will leave marks on your hull.

Decal and Vinyl Sun Protection

Just like our bodies we need to protect the paint, Gelcoat and decal stickers on our vehicles from the harmful rays of the sun. Boats and Jetskis have the added problem of salt water which tends to play havoc with keeping our big boy toys looking nice.

This is why I like to apply wax or paint protection to my car and the Sea-Doo jet-ski as they are out in the sun a lot. There are a couple of different sun protection products available depending on what materials you are applying them on. 

For Vinyl flooring, seats, dash, and decals I like to use a product called Aerospace 303 vinyl protectant. It has been specially formulated to keep your vinyl looking fresh, clean, and colorful. Just spray it on and wipe off the excess. Your vinyl will look as good as new.

3M Adhesive Remover

I have always liked 3m products, they make the best glue, electrical tape, hanging hooks, and adhesive remover. There are two types of adhesive remover.

  • 3M Specialty Adhesive Remover – Its designed to remove adhesives that require a hardener or catalyst in order for the bond to occur. Such as epoxies; urethanes; silicones.
  • 3M General purpose adhesive cleaner – removal of light paint overspray, adhesive residue, wax, grease, tree sap, dirt, road tar, oil, and bugs. Will not damage most thoroughly cured automotive paint, pieces of vinyl, or fabrics when following instructions.

The 3m General purpose adhesive remover is very strong and you have to be careful not to damage certain types of plastics on your cars, and boats. Always test it first on a small area for any discoloration or damage to the material you are trying to clean.


If you are looking for a cheap solution to remove boat registration stickers, numbers and decals then stick with the Mineral Turpentine also known as Mineral Spirits. Don’t forget the hair dryer it will make your life so much easier.

Solvents such as Acetone are too strong for delicate plastics and gel coat paints. It will strip them right off and leave a big mess.

Before applying your Decals, make sure the area is fully clean and dry. Otherwise, it will come right off when it is out in the sun or it gets wet. Remove the air bubbles with a plastic scraper and don’t forget to check over all of your safety gear for this boating season. Enjoy and be safe on the water this summer.

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