Frequently Asked Questions
Seals and Stickers
- If you already have a seal, you do not need an inspection. Tahoe Only stickers are not available for purchase at Fallen Leaf or Echo Lakes but can be purchased at an inspection station, or any launch facility on Lake Tahoe.
- If you would like to purchase a Tahoe In & Out annual pass, please visit one of the Roadside inspection stations.
- Lake Tahoe inspection stickers are regional and valid at Tahoe, Fallen Leaf, and Echo Lakes.
- Fallen Leaf, Echo or Tahoe inspection seals are accepted at Lake Tahoe for entrance.
- In order to prevent AIS species from Lake Tahoe from entering Fallen Leaf or Echo Lakes, you will need a Fallen Leaf or Echo inspection seal to visit those respective lakes. A decontamination is required to receive Fallen Leaf or Echo Lake seals. Visit an inspection station and let your inspector know which lake you are planning to visit.
- Paddlers should click here to learn about AIS and how to self-inspect your non-motorized boat and gear.
- Click here to learn more about invasive species within the Lake Tahoe Basin.
- An inspection seal secures your vessel to the trailer. A certified seal inspector at the launch ramp will remove the seal and install a new one once you have finished boating.
- If you launch somewhere else, you need to remove the seal and get inspected before launching in the Lake Tahoe region again.
Inspection and Decontamination Process
- All motorized vessels, including electric, require an inspection. New boats and engines are tested in water prior to leaving the factory and are still required to be inspected.
- Vessels with electric or air-cooled trolling motors are required to receive a free inspection, however there may be a fee if a decontamination is required.
- All non-motorized vessels are subject to inspection and/or decontamination. Trailered non-motorized vessels are required to be inspected. All inspections are provided free of charge for non-motorized vessels.
- If you own a simple vessel, like a canoe, kayak or paddleboard, please visit Tahoe Keepers to learn how to inspect and Clean, Drain, & Dry your vessel. If you would like an inspection, please visit any of our inspection locations, and we will provide one free of charge.
- An optional appointment system has been created for your convenience and to improve operational efficiency at inspection stations. When the appointment system is available, it is accessible on the Locations and Hours page.
- Appointments are an additional $15.
- Inspections will also be available on a first come first-served basis at all inspection locations.
- Inspection times vary depending on the type of watercraft you have and how prepared you arrive for your inspection. To help decrease the amount of time the inspection will take please make sure that you arrive at the inspection station completely Cleaned, Drained and Dry. View tips on how to prepare here.
- If you are planning to boat in Fallen Leaf or Echo Lakes, a decontamination is required before launching, regardless of the inspection results. Tahoe regional sticker and decontamination fees apply.
- Inspectors will ask you a few questions about your boat and launching history. Then they will physically look and feel for evidence of aquatic invasive species (AIS) inside and on your vessel. Once the inspection process is complete, the inspector may prescribe a decontamination, which includes flushing all affected areas with hot water to kill any potential AIS. Before you leave the inspection station you will receive an inspection sticker and an inspection seal.
- Inspectors are looking for any plant, animal (dead or alive), mud or water, that may pose a risk to Lake Tahoe and the surrounding waters.
- New Zealand mudsnails
- Hydrilla, water hyacinth and other highly invasive plants
- Zebra and quagga mussels
- Invasive mussels pose a threat to Lake Tahoe and are present in waterbodies in California and Nevada.
- For more information on aquatic invasive species visit westernais.org
- A decontamination is required if there are any signs of mud, plants, animals or water found on a vessel during the inspection process
- Decontamination is a process where affected systems on a vessel are flushed using only hot water to kill any possible invasive species. Decontaminations are available at our roadside inspection stations during the summer, and by appointment during the winter. Additional fees apply.
- Typical decontaminations last from 10-30 minutes but depend on the complexity of your vessel. Please bring any special flush adapters with you to ensure a speedy process.
- Come prepared! Make sure that your watercraft is Clean, Drained, and Dry. View tips on how to best prepare your watercraft here.
- Clean up any oil, dirt or debris inside bilges and storage compartments, and remove all items inside these compartments prior to arriving for your inspection.
- Drain water from your drive unit, sea strainers, bilge, ballast tanks, live wells and any storage compartments.
- Dry the entire vessel, including toys and gear for as long as you can in between launches.
- Make sure all systems are operational, including batteries, engine(s), pumps, etc. If you have any special adapters or a flush kit for your engine, please bring them with you to the inspection station.
- All ballast tanks will require decontamination (separate fee will apply). To expedite this process, drain your tanks and ensure the pumps are functioning properly. For vessels with ballasts, make sure to bring all ballast bags with you to the inspection station.
- All motorized and trailered non-motorized vessels must be inspected for aquatic invasive species by Tahoe Boat Inspections.
- The only seals accepted at Lake Tahoe are Tahoe, Fallen Leaf and Echo seals. The only seals accepted at Fallen Leaf and Echo Lakes are seals for those respective lakes.
- Winter operations officially begin October 1st and end April 30th. During this time, watercraft inspections are available at Cave Rock and Lake Forest boat ramps from 6am to 4pm daily, weather permitting. Inspections are only performed during daylight hours.
- Private marinas may also be open to launch sealed vessels during the winter. Please contact private facilities directly for hours of operation.
- Closures and/or delays may occur during winter due to weather. All closures and delays will be posted by 2:00 pm the day prior on Twitter and Facebook (@TahoeBoating) and on our website.
No documentation is needed for the inspection process. Please refer to state and local boating regulations and ordinances to learn which documents apply while boating on Lake Tahoe.
Fees and Inspection Station Locations
Yes, there is a fee for motorized watercraft inspections based on the length of the vessel. There is no fee for inspection of electric motors or non-motorized vessels, however there may be a fee if a decontamination is required. Click here for fees.
- Tahoe In & Outstickers are eligible for unlimited inspections during the calendar year.
- A Single Inspection Passis good for 1 inspection and valid for 7 consecutive days of sealing and unsealing at Tahoe launch facilities.
- Tahoe Only stickers are reserved for vessels with an intact Tahoe inspection seal.
- Additional decontamination fees may apply.
- Vessels with current Tahoe Only stickers who would like to boat elsewhere should do so. Upon return, you will need to visit one of the roadside inspection stations for an inspection. We will upgrade you to a Tahoe In & Out sticker for the difference in fees.
- Launch ramps are operated by a variety of private and public entities which set their own policies. Please contact those facilities for hours and pricing.
Regional & State Programs
Truckee Police websiteto learn more.
- Evinrude E-TEC
- Mercury Optimax
- Yamaha High Pressure Direct Injection (HPDI)
- Nissan and Tohatsu 2-stroke Low-pressure Direct Injection (TLDI)
If you are unsure about whether or not your engine is allowed on the Lakes of the Tahoe Region, please contact Steve Sweet, [email protected] 775-589-5250
Quagga and Zebra Mussels
- Zebra and quagga mussels are triangular freshwater bivalve mollusks with black, cream, or white bands that often look like stripes. Mussels reproduce by releasing up to a million microscopic larva called veligers and can go through this cycle several times a year. Once established in a waterbody, eradication is often difficult or impossible. Quagga and Zebra mussels are native to Ukraine and Russia but were first discovered in the Great Lakes in 1988. It is believed they arrived in the USA via ballast water discharge.
- For the most up-to-date listing of waterbodies containing mussels in the United States, click HERE.
- Quagga and zebra are filter feeders that consume large portions of the microscopic plants and animals that form the base of the food web. One adult mussel can filter up to 1 liter of water per day. With populations reaching around 55,000/square meter, mussels quickly consume a significant portion of the food, disrupting the ecological balance of entire bodies of water.
- In some cases, the mussels concentrate toxic algae from their pseudofeces, killing birds and deteriorating water quality. Quagga and Zebra mussels have few natural predators in North America allowing the population to explode quickly, and exasperating the problem.
- Quagga and zebra mussels can colonize on hulls and drive components of watercraft and other recreational equipment. If left unchecked, this can restrict cooling and damage boat motors. They also attach to submerged surfaces such as piers, pilings, and water intakes. This can impair structures and hamper the flow of water to municipal water supplies, agricultural irrigation, and power plants.
- S. Congressional researchers estimated that an infestation of zebra mussels in the Great Lakes area had an economic impact of more than $5 billion. Property values are also impacted, with some areas reporting a loss of 16%. The cost of preventing mussels with inspections is minimal by comparison.
- No, there are no invasive mussel species in Lake Tahoe.
- However, there are native freshwater mussels that live in the Upper Truckee and Truckee Rivers. Please help us protect this small population of native mussels and do not disturb, handle or remove them. For more information, please visit the USDA Forest Service Lake Tahoe Basin.
- Quagga and Zebra mussels primarily move from one place to another through human-related activities. They attach to hard surfaces and can survive out of water for up to 30 days in the appropriate conditions. The microscopic larvae also can be transported in bilges, ballast water, live wells or other equipment that holds waters. Authorities discovered Quagga Mussels living in the Colorado River at Lake Mead, Lake Mohave, and Lake Havasu in January 2007.
- It is likely they were originally brought to Lake Mead on the hull of a recreational boat from the eastern US. Since then, additional bodies of water have been infected in California as the veligers drifted downriver from Lake Mead.
- To date, there have not been any viable extirpations of zebra or quagga mussels from a water body in which they have established. Since Quagga and Zebra larvae (called veligers) are free drifting, preventing their spread downstream from known infestations may not be possible.
Laws & Regulations
If coming from outside of Nevada or California, boat transporters can call 844-311-4873 prior to hauling to have a destination state representative reach out to facilitate and expedite the watercraft inspection process anywhere in the Western U.S. More information is at <a href=”https://www.westernais.org/watercraft”>WesternAIS.org</a>.