Do Kayaks Need To Be Registered in Ohio ?

If we operate a motor vehicle without a current license or registration, what happens is we could possibly get a ticket. The same laws apply to motorized boats used on public or federal open waters and waterways. The registration requirements can vary by state, and today, we’re looking at Ohio.


You must register your kayak in Ohio to lawfully navigate one of Ohio’s 60,000 public lakes or one of its beautiful 3,000 named rivers or streams. When registering your kayak in Ohio, you must show proof of ownership and pay the $25 fee. Then, your registration is valid for three years.


Registering your kayak in Ohio is a relatively simple task, but there are a few exceptions about which all kayak owners should be aware. I’ll cover the registration process and the exceptions so you can be fully prepared while kayaking in Ohio. Read on to find out more!

Registering a Kayak in Ohio

We all know that we need to get our vehicles registered at the Bureau of Motor Vehicles in Ohio or your state’s equivalent. Just as the BMV is for cars and trucks, boats have specific places where they are registered.


Depending on how large a recreational area you are visiting, sometimes they will have boater registration offices on site. You may also visit a Boat Registration Agent, which you can often find around many bodies of water and waterways. You often see them in Ohio at National Parks that have large lakes on the property.

Required Information and Cost of Registering a Kayak in Ohio

If it is your first time registering your kayak, you must do it in person at a Boat Registration Agent or a Watercraft Office. Your registration is then put on file with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, or the ODNR.


Unlike motorized boats, you do not need to possess a title for your kayak. You must, however, show proof of ownership by presenting a document on the list below:


  • Manufacturer’s statement of origin. This is a document included when you purchase your kayak. It will be blank when you receive it.
  • A bill of sale. This is essentially a receipt containing proof that the previous owner has transferred ownership to you. It should include the price paid and the date. There are free downloadable forms online that are available for use. You’ll also be asked for a registration that has been signed over to you from the previous owner
  • A Notarized affidavit of ownership. This form can be accessed and downloaded from the ODNR website.


In addition to proof of ownership, you will need to provide your driver’s license or state ID to prove who you are when registering your kayak in Ohio. You will also need to pay the applicable fees, which are $25. The cost is the same for all kayaks, no matter the length. Finally, you’ll need to fill out a registration form.

How Long Is Your Kayak’s Registration Good for in Ohio?

The registration for your kayak in Ohio is valid for three years; however, boat registrations always expire on March 1st. You will receive one decal that you will need to place on your kayak.


It will not include Ohio numbers that motorized watercraft have as your kayak will be considered an alternative registration.


Once you have completed the initial in-person registration of your kayak, you may renew the registration online. Keep in mind, though, all of your information must be current to use the online portal. Online registration in Ohio is only available between January 1st and October 31st.

Where To Place the Registration Decal on a Kayak in Ohio

You must have your decals displayed and visible on your kayak. The type of registration stickers you see on motorized boats in Ohio include an OH decal as well as a set of numbers. Kayaks don’t require the Ohio numbers that motorized watercraft need to have displayed. When registering your kayak, you will only be provided with one sticker to place on the kayak.


Your decal will consist of one sticker that states that you have an Ohio watercraft registered in Ohio. A good option for placement is on the stern of the kayak or the side. Your decal should have no problem remaining visible in one of these locations.

Exceptions to Registration Laws for Kayaks in Ohio

There are exceptions for certain circumstances concerning registration when using a kayak in Ohio. These exceptions can be helpful in educating you on when you do and do not need to have your kayak registered in Ohio. One of these exceptions could apply to you in which case, you won’t have to go through the trouble of registering your kayak.


If you happen to be vacationing in Ohio and you brought your kayak with you, registration is not required to use it. Similarly, if you brought your kayak from another country, you also don’t need to complete registration.


If you happen to be kayaking in a competition in Ohio, but you live primarily in another state, registration is not required. These are generally exceptions unless you are planning on being in Ohio for more than 60 days.


These exceptions are good to note because most states don’t require registration at all for kayaks. Only a handful of states require non-motorized watercraft to be registered, so it is beneficial to know these exceptions if you plan to come from another state.


It’s a whole lot of fun to go out on a river with a few friends and a few kayaks, along with a well-stocked cooler, for the day. Ohio has plenty of places where this can be a great time.


There aren’t many things that are bigger day-ruiners than being asked about your registration by a game warden. It’s best to go out with your registration taken care of in advance to avoid any tickets and fines that would be associated with being stopped by someone while not having your kayak correctly registered.

Scroll to Top