Boat Inspections


Please visit our new website: 
Boat Inspection and Permit Requirements for 2014
In 2014:
All watercraft are required to be inspected for aquatic invasive species and to display a valid aquatic invasive species permit sticker prior to launching and while operating on Lake Whatcom or Lake Samish. This new requirement includes non-motorized, hand-carried watercraft such as canoes and kayaks. Permits will not be required for surfboards, paddle boards, and kite boards; float tubes and water sport toys; or inflatables that are 10 feet or less in length.
Failure to comply with these requirements can result in penalties of up to $1,000. 
In 2013, watercraft 16 feet or longer and/or operated by a motor with 10 horsepower or more were required to be inspected for aquatic invasive species and to display a valid aquatic invasive species permit sticker prior to launching or operating on Lake Whatcom or Lake Samish (BMC 12.12.280 and WCC 2.27A). 
Aquatic invasive species can easily be spread to new waters by watercraft that are being transported from one waterbody to another. Once invasive species become established they can result in significant impacts and management costs. By inspecting boats before they launch we can prevent the introduction of new invasive species to Lake Whatcom and Lake Samish. Please do your part to protect Whatcom County waters and plan ahead for mandatory boat inspections. 
Motorized or Registered Watercraft
Annual Permit ($50) includes unlimited inspections (valid through Dec. 31)
3-Day Pass ($20) includes unlimited inspections (valid for 3 consecutive days)
Non-Motorized Watercraft (that do not require registration)*
Annual Permit ($10) includes unlimited inspections (valid through Dec. 31)

Inspection Locations
  • Pre-Season Inspections: at the City of Bellingham's Natural Resources Office located at 2200 Nevada Street, Bellingham, WA 98229. Call (360) 778-7975 to make an appointment.
  • Bloedel Donovan: 2214 Electric Ave, Bellingham, WA 98229, 5 a.m. - 9 p.m., or dawn to dusk, 7 days a week (Starting April 26, 2014)
  • Lake Samish WDFW Boat Launch: East Lake Samish Drive, Bellingham, WA 98229
  • Lake Whatcom South Bay WDFW Boat Launch: South Bay Drive, Sedro-Woolley, WA 98284
  • On-site Inspections: by request for boats kept on either lake that can't be trailered. Call (360) 778-7975 to make an appointment.
Payment Options
  • Natural Resources Office: Pre-season inspections only. City of Bellingham Natural Resources Office, 2200 Nevada Street, Bellingham, WA 98229, by appointment. Checks or credit/debit cards.
  • Inspection Locations: Credit/debit cards only
  • Online: Bring your printed receipt with you to your inspection as proof of payment. Credit/debit cards only.
  • City Hall: City of Bellingham Finance Department, 210 Lottie Street, Bellingham, WA 98225, 8 a.m. - 5.p.m. Mon - Fri. Cash, checks, or credit/debit cards.
What to Expect at the Inspection

Inspectors are on the lookout for any animal or plant material on the watercraft that may pose a risk to Whatcom County waters. The inspector will ask you several questions about your boat and launching history and will then visually and physically inspect your boat for any evidence of aquatic invasive species. The hull, trailer, and interior compartments of your boat will be inspected. Inspectors will be ensuring that your boat has been cleaned, drained, and dried because some aquatic invasive species larvae can be transported on damp gear or in standing water.
Preparing Your Boat
You can make the inspection a quick and simple process by making sure your boat is clean, drained, and dry before arriving at the inspection, and removing any gear or equipment from internal compartments ahead of time. 
If you cannot trailer your boat to Bloedel Donovan, you can call the boat inspection hotline at 778-7975 to schedule an appointment and receive information on how to purchase your permit.
Launching at Lake Whatcom or Lake Samish Multiple Times
Boats launching at a location with an Aquatic Invasive Species Check Station are required to be inspected every time they launch unless they have been tethered using a Lake Whatcom Management Program wire seal. If you plan on returning to the same location, ask an inspector about our wire seal program to speed up your next launch. 

Frequently Asked Questions
Get on the water faster by remembering to clean, drain, and dry your boat before you come down to the boat launch. 
  • Remove ALL aquatic plants, animals, and mud
  • Thoroughly wash everything


  • Drain water from your boat, trailer, tackle and gear before leaving the area, including wells, bilge, and engine cooling water


  • Allow sufficient time for your boat to dry before launching into other waters
  • If you cannot perform these steps, have your boat professionally cleaned with high-pressure hot water (more than 140°F) before launching into other waters

Do NOT release pets, bait, aquatic plants, or aquarium water into the wild.

Subpages (1): Comments & Feedback