Do You Have To Register A Kayak In Michigan? Know All The Details

Fact Checked By James A Rockey | Post Updated On: November 23, 2022
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If you have been paddling your craft and you wish to install a trolling motor, then you must register. And yes, you have to register your Kayak in Michigan, by the law of the Michigan Department of State. The registration is valid for 3 years and expires on March 31 in the third year of issuance. The requirements and process of registration vary from one state to the other, though.

Key Takeaways

  • In the USA, non-motorized kayaks do not require registration but motorized types do require registration
  • If your boat is 16 feet or shorter, using an oar or paddle, and not used for commercial or rental purposes then you don’t have to register it
  • If your boat is registered in another state and you will temporarily use it in Michigan then you don’t have to register your boat again
  • You can register your boat via mail where you can mail the registration and payment to the enclosed address. at: 7063 Crowner Drive, Lansing, MI 48918

What Are The Type Of Watercraft Are Exempt From Registration In Michigan?

1. Any boat 16 feet or shorter, using an oar or paddle, and not used for commercial or rental purposes;

2. Boats, rafts, surfboards, and sailboards, regardless of length, are not motorized and are not used for rental or commercial purposes.

3. Watercraft registered in another state that is only temporarily used in Michigan.

Do You Have To Register a Kayak in Michigan?

Kayak Registration Process In Michigan

1. Online Process

1. ExpressSOS can be used to renew your watercraft registration online.

2. When renewing your license, you can also submit a change of address form online. 

3(Changes to the owner’s name or information about the watercraft must be made at a Secretary of State office.) 

4. Pay using a Discover, Visa, MasterCard, or eCheck debit or credit card. 

5. It’s possible that you’ll be charged a processing fee. 

6. You can print your new registration at the end of the transaction if you renew while signing in to your account. 

7.Within 14 business days, you should get your watercraft decal and an additional copy of your registration in the mail. 

8.You will not be able to print your new registration if you choose the quick renewal option; instead, you will receive it via email.

2. Registration Via Mail

Mail your renewal notice and payment to the enclosed address. at: 7063 Crowner Drive, Lansing, MI 48918 on your check or money order.

Your address can be changed on your renewal notice, but you will need to visit a Secretary of State Office to change your name or watercraft information. You will receive the new registration and decal within 14 business days.

3. Registration By In Person:

Bring your watercraft registration or the MC number when renewing at a Secretary of State office. Be sure to pay by cash, check, money order, or with a Discover, MasterCard, or Visa debit, or credit card. For every purchase made with a credit card, a processing fee will be charged – so choose your payment method wisely. The new registration and decal will be given to you at the counter.

Michigan Kayak Registration Fees

Vehicle Registration Late Fee: If you renew after the expiration date, an extra $10 fee will be charged, regardless of which month it comes in-

1. Boat License transfer fee: $10 and a $5 stand alone transaction fee.

2. Vehicle Title Fees. $15

3. Original fee for non-motorized sailboats is $9 and there’s a 3-year renewal fee of $9.

4. Canoes and kayaks used commercially are more expensive than those for personal use, with an original fee of $5 and a three-year renewal.

5. Motorboats, less than 12 feet: $14

6. The original fee for Motorboats is 12 feet or more but less than 16 feet is $17. There is also a 3-year renewal fee of $17 if you choose to renew. The list goes on.

7. Motorboats 16 Feet or More but Less Than 21 Feet will be eligible for renewal of a three-year license for $42.

8. Motorboats 21 Feet or More but Less Than 28 Feet cost $115

9. Motorboats 28 Feet or More but Less Than 35 Feet. . . $168

10. Commercial fishing vessel license – $15 (*original fee and 3-year renewal fees*)

Motorized Kayak & Canoe Registration Law In Michigan

1. Michigan Department of State registration decals are required for all watercraft, unless exempt.

2. Having been assigned a registration number, the number is not transferrable.

3. In the third year following the date of issue, all registrations are due to expire on March 31.

4. In addition to those 16 feet long or shorter, propelled by oars or paddles, and used for personal use only, other watercraft are exempt from registration. Michigan does not allow nonmotorized canoes and kayaks. Any raft, surfboard, sailboard, and swim float, regardless of length; and. An out-of-state watercraft that is temporarily used in Michigan.

5. Registrants pay according to their length.

Michigan Watercraft Registration Form

Michigan has a variety of lakes and rivers that are perfect for watercraft registration. They also have a well-developed watercraft registration form process that is simple to navigate and complete.

If you’re looking for a way to register your boat, all you need is the information on the form below.

Download Now (And print it to submit to the Michigan Department of State)

Michigan Watercraft Registration Lookup System

Michigan does not have a watercraft registration lookup system yet because it is not the law of the land yet. While there is no law that prevents them from doing so, state officials are still trying to find the best method for this database, which would be an ongoing process for years since they would need to find a way to keep up with all the new watercraft models that are coming along.

Still, you can send them an email and have your registration details looked up. Just click this link and contact them.

With more than 1.5 million registered boats in Michigan, the lack of a database like this will lead to a loss of revenue and potential fines and violations for those who do not register their boats within 30 days after purchase.

Of course, this doesn’t mean that people have been out cruising on Lake Michigan without registering their boats. But because it’s such a hassle and time-consuming process- even if you know the law -it’s not how most people are going to get around while enjoying the natural beauty of our great state.

It was necessary for the state to develop this due to an increase in requests for boat registrations and a lack of human resources.


In Michigan, Do You Need To Register A Boat With A Trolling Motor?

Michigan boat registration law states that you have to register your boat with a trolling motor. These laws were put in place to make sure that boats are not rented out without the owner knowing about it.

You don’t need to register your boat if it doesn’t have a trolling motor, but you should still take some time to learn the rules in case you get caught.

Some people believe that these laws are too strict and do not allow for an exception. But it is important to note that these laws are created for safety purposes and not just there to catch people who don’t follow them.

Do You Need To Register A Boat With A Trolling Motor In Michigan?

Yes. If your boat doesn’t have a trolling motor attached, it must be registered before it is operated on water. Michigan boaters are required to register their boats with the state before the boat is operated on Michigan waters. The state of Michigan uses this registration process to identify boats that may be used for fishing and recreational purposes.

An argument in favor of registration is that it ensures the boat owner is held accountable for safety and pollution. A benefit of registration is that it can ensure insurance coverage as well as validate the vessel’s value.

Do You Need A License For A Kayak In Michigan?

In order to legally use a kayak on the water, you have to be a licensed boater in Michigan.

The law requires that a person get a license to operate any kind of boat with an engine in the state of Michigan. The exception is for those who are specifically authorized by law to do so without having to get licensure. According to the US Coast Guard, you must be 16 years or older and hold a valid driver’s license for the operation of any motorized boat over 12 horsepower (HP), unless otherwise authorized by law.

What Do You Need To Kayak In Michigan?

With over 5,000 miles of coastline, Michigan is a boater’s paradise. But if you are new to the sport or just want to do some sailing on the lake, you’re going to need some equipment.

You can find everything you need at one of the many outdoor stores in the area. Here are some items to get you started:

1) A kayak paddle (or two)

2) A boat anchor and mooring line and rode

3) A life preserver

Can You Kayak Anywhere In Michigan?

The answer is yes.

Michigan has thousands of miles of rivers, lakes, and streams. Many of them are perfect for kayaking.

In Michigan, there is a large amount of inland water. From lakes and bays to rivers and marshes, there are plenty of places to kayak.

Can You Get A DUI On A Kayak In Michigan?

The short answer is no. The long answer is that Michigan has laws of its own, which have nothing to do with the specific laws enforced by the federal government. Even if a kayak was being operated on land, it would still be classified as a boat and not be subject to state law.

Can You Get A DUI On A Kayak In Michigan?

A kayak can be considered a vessel that is propelled by paddling. This is what the law says about boats and it includes kayaks.

This question comes up because there might be confusion about whether a kayak can be considered a non-motorized vehicle. The answer, according to the law, is yes.

Can You Kayak Anywhere In Michigan?

Yes, kayaking in Michigan is possible. The water temperature ranges from 8 degrees Celsius to 14 degrees Celsius. You can paddle on lakes, rivers, and even creeks and streams.

Michigan has the largest inland waterway system in the world. It has about 7,000 miles of freshwater waterways and it is the second-longest river system in North America after the Mississippi River.

Yes! Kayaking is possible in Michigan as long as you know what lake or stream you want to visit beforehand!

Can you kayak somewhere in Michigan?

Do You Have To Have A Whistle On A Kayak?

It is not necessary to have a whistle on a kayak, but it is a safety precaution that kayakers should take. You can instead use bells or other types of alarms. Whistles are also helpful for people who are not able to hear the sound of the water against their paddle blades.

Although whistles are not necessary, it is highly advised to have one on your kayak in order to be safe when paddling in different waters and especially when traveling in remote areas.

Do I Need Lights On My Kayak At Night?

Kayakers should always carry a light on their kayak at night. While it may seem like a small detail, this can make a huge difference in your safety.

If there is no moon out, or you are trying to spot any other vessels, you might want to carry a light on your kayak. You can also use them to ensure that you are visible from the shore or from another boat or vessel nearby.

You should also decide if you want to carry a paddle light for illumination if you are paddling at night. The paddle light is mostly used when in the tall marsh and is also helpful for long-distance paddling when there is no moon out.

Registration Of A Motorized Kayak In Michigan

In Michigan, motorized kayaks should be titled and registered for you to be allowed to operate legally on public waters. The proof of ownership should be presented during the registration process. You are then issued with a three-year transferrable registration that expires on March 31st.  The fee varies depending on the length of your kayak. Upon issuance of the registration number, you cannot use it on another kayak.

You will also be given a validation decal that should be displayed beside the registration number. Upon expiry, you can renew the registration through mail, online, or in person. Transfer of ownership can also be done using a titled document or using the registration certificate.


All the states mentioned here require you to register a motorized kayak within 30 days of purchase. Failure to do there penalties and interest that will be imposed that vary from one state to another. You will then be required to abide by all laws governing the use of watercraft on public waters. The registration process is straightforward, and you should do it on time to avoid getting into trouble with the laws.



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