Do Kayaks Need to be Registered ?

Do you have your driving license? Of course, it is an essential item for mobile gadgets like cars. Did you know the same applies to kayaks and other boat-like vessels?

Right now, only six states require paddlers to register their kayaks. These states are; Alaska, Minnesota, Iowa, Oklahoma, Illinois, and Ohio. In addition, Pennsylvania also has kayak registration rules for fishing and the department of boat commission.

What Does It Mean By Kayak Registration ?

Before you learn the specific kayaking rules in every state, here is what it means for kayak registration.

It means your kayak is allowed to run in public waters. You will be given a special number that must be displayed on your kayak, or else you will get a ticket.

Some states have tough rules that can lead to high penalties.

First of all, your kayak must have a decal number that is registered at the port. Moreover, you should display the decal number on the sides of your kayak.

Make sure you write the decal number in capital letters; each letter must be about 3 inches long. Furthermore, you must include some hyphens or spaces to separate numbers from letters.

Please note the color of the hull because it should contrast with the color of the letters and numbers. Remember, kayaks also have the ownership title, a legal document necessary for kayaking.

Kayak Registration Laws for Each State

Ohio kayak registration laws

The law states that you should register your kayak under the department of natural resources.

You must display the decal number on your kayak after paying the registration fees. It includes inflatable kayaks and other paddle boats. You can register your kayak even without a title.

However, there are some exceptions, like a person on vacation in Ohio is allowed to use an unregistered kayak from another state.

Even those participating in sporting events are allowed to use unregistered kayaks. They have this freedom for 60 days.

Sailboards, belly boats, and float tubes are exempted from these tough laws.

Iowa kayak registration laws

In Iowa also, you must register a kayak under the natural resource department. However, the kayak must be over 13 feet long in this case.

In addition, citizens of Iowa can kayak for 60 days with an unregistered kayak as long as they are not consecutive days. You should note that this rule only applies to kayaks less than 13 feet long.

All motorized kayaks and inflatable kayaks must be registered with the respective department. But inflatable kayaks 7 feet and below are exempted from the registration regulations.

The minimum kayaking age is 12 years and must have a boaters license. But those above 18 years can operate motorized vessels.

Minnesota kayak registration laws

All kayaks above 10 feet must be registered under the natural resource department. This includes all motorized vessels and non-motorized vessels.

Kayaks under 10 feet must have documentation from US Coast Guard.

Those visiting the state for less than 90 days are exempted from the registration rules.

Illinois kayak registration laws

Only motorized kayaks must be registered. All unpowered water vessels are free to roam public water without a decal number. However, the boater must have a boating license.

The registration is only valid for 3 years. Note the registration will expire on the 30th of September after three years.

Alaska kayak registration laws

In Alaska, kayaks are considered recreational vessels and are exempted from the kayak registration rules.

This includes all vessels with manual propulsion. Nevertheless, all motorized vessels must be registered and given a registration number.

Remember to place the registration certificate in the correct position along the hull.

Oklahoma kayak registration laws

Here also, all manually propelled vessels are exempted from the registration laws. But ensure you register your kayak when you attach a gas or electric-powered tail engine.

State water vessels can float in Oklahoma’s waters without registration for 90 days. On the other hand, you must have a paddling permit for your kayak.

Necessary Documents to Register Your Kayak

Every state has its requirements, but below are some general documents you must present to the department of natural resources.

  • Hull identification number
  • Evidence of the type of propulsion for your vessel
  • Certificate of origin and the bill of sale
  • Evidence of the length of the kayak
  • Model of the kayak

The Kayak Registration Process

Step 1. Gather all of the necessary documents mentioned above and visit the natural resource department. Present the documents to the registration officer, and you will be given an application form.

Step 2. Fill out the application form with the correct details. Always ask where you do not understand on the application form.

Step 3. Provide evidence that you own the kayak—for example, the title certificate, bill of sale, and the original statement from the manufacturer.

Step 4. Finally, pay the registration fee and wait about two weeks to receive the registration card. You will be contacted to pick it up in person or it can be mailed to you. However, you will have a temporary card once you pay the registration fee.

Agency Responsible for Boat Registration by State

Each state has a specified agency that is responsible for kayak and boat registration. Below is some information on the major states.

Alaska: The US Coast Guard

California: The Department of Motor Vehicles

Arizona: The Department of Fish and Wildlife

Colorado: The Division of Parks and Recreation

Delaware: The Department of Natural Resources

Florida: The Department of Motor Vehicles

Illinois: The Department of Natural Resources

Iowa: The Department of Natural Resources

Massachusetts: The Department of Fisheries and Wildlife

Minnesota: The Department of Natural Resources

Oklahoma: The Motor Vehicle Department and the Oklahoma Tax Commission

Pennsylvania: Fish and Boat Commission

Ohio: The Department of Natural Resources

Washington: The State Department of Licensing


What is the average kayak registration fee ?

On average, registering a kayak will cost you $30 to $300. However, each state has different rates. Some factors determine the registration fee—for example, the method of propulsion and the size of your kayak.

How long will it take to get your registration certificate ?

It will take 2 to 3 weeks to receive the registration card. The respective department will mail the certificate, but in the meantime, you will use the temporary certificate.

After how long will the registration certificate expire ?

In this case, also it depends on the state rules. Most states give 3 years for the certificate to expire. However, some states do not have the expiry date, and the card is for the lifetime of the kayak.

How to transfer the ownership of a kayak ?

The new owner of the kayak has 30 days to use the kayak without the transfer certificate. But the previous owner has to notify the local authorities of the new owner and apply for a transfer certificate.

What are the things to remember when kayaking ?

The basic fact about kayaking is to learn how to do it. Find an expert to teach you the basics and technical parts of kayaking. Secondly, remember that kayaking is dangerous, and you should never kayak alone. Try to understand the possible risks involved in kayaking. In summary, here is what to do.

–       Never kayak alone

–       Learn how to kayak before practicing it

–       Choose the appropriate kayak

–       Equip yourself with rescue techniques

–       Always put on the reflector and life jacket

Wrapping up

We recommend you read the kayaking laws in your state. This would help you understand more about what is needed to register the kayak. You can register your kayak in a few states while others don’t have kayak laws, especially those with deserts. Display the kayak license at the appropriate and correct position; you will never get a ticket while kayaking.

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