Do You Need To Register A Kayak With A Trolling Motor?

Fact Checked By James A Rockey | Post Updated On: November 23, 2022
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Yes, any mechanically powered vessel used for transport and recreation, including a kayak, should be registered with the state’s department in charge of boat registration in their state of principal use. These vessels should also display the registration numbers appropriately using a color that contrasts the color of the hull.

Key Takeaways

  • Different states have different rules and regulations regarding watercraft registration, therefore you should check the law of your state while buying a kayak
  • While registering your kayak, you have to submit some information like your kayak’s model and specifications, length, type of kayak, hull identification number, etc.
  • The manufacturer’s certificate of origin and bill of sale is also required when registering the kayak
  • In Washington DC, the boating laws require all vessels to be registered and titled regardless of whether they are motorized or not

Boat Registration Rules

If you intend to get your kayak out to the public waters, you must adhere to boat registration rules to avoid problems with authorities. Always ensure that your motorized kayak is numbered as required. Below are some numbering rules you need to adhere to:

1. Have decal numbers on the starboard and port side of the kayak

2. Ensure the numbers are written in capital letters and are at least three inches in height

3. Separate numbers and letters by the use of hyphens and spaces

4. Use numbers whose color contrasts that of the kayak’s hull

Different states have different rules and regulations regarding watercraft registration, and it is advisable to check with your local authorities and ensure you are on the safe side.

How To Register A Kayak: Everything You Need To Know About Kayak Registration

Before you start paddling in your state, ensure your kayak is registered according to your state’s requirements. This section takes you through everything you need to know about registering your kayak. Let’s hop right in!

1. Before everything else, you need to check on your state’s website for the boat registration requirements since they vary by state. However, there is some general information you need to gather before you start the application process.  Gathering the necessary information and documents takes up most of your energy and time so ensure you do it in advance. They include:

a. Your kayak’s model and specifications

b. The length of the kayak 

c. The type of propulsion on the vessel (whether motorized or manual)

d. The hull identification number

e. The manufacturer’s certificate of origin and bill of sale.

2. After gathering all the necessary information, it is time to complete an application form. You can get this form from the department in charge of vessel registration in your state. The forms are available both online and in their offices. Go for the option that’s most convenient for you.

3. When applying, provide proof of ownership, including bill of sale, manufacturer’s statement of origin, and certification of title

4. Pay the registration fee to complete the application and wait for your registration to be issued.

After you’ve completed your application, it will take about two weeks to be processed, and you will receive the registration card. The time it takes varies by state, but it won’t take more than two weeks in most states. You can get a temporary registration issued as you await the card.

How Much Does Kayak Registration Cost?

Kayak registration fees vary from state to state, depending on the type of vessel and its specifications. The prices range between $20 to $200. Check on your state’s website for the specific registration fees that apply to your kayak. These fees are necessary because they keep the waterways safe and help to conserve and maintain them.

Kayak Registration Requirements By State

As we’ve already seen above, different states have different regulations and requirements regarding kayak registration. Let’s look at some common boating laws in other states; if you don’t find your state on this list, check their website for details.

1. Ohio kayak registration requirements

In Ohio, boat registration is under the division of parks and watercraft. They require all recreational boats, including kayaks, canoes, inflatable boats, personal watercraft, and pedal-powered boats, to be registered. The only exceptions are vessels registered in another state navigating Ohio waters for less than 60 days and those documented with the US coast guard.

2. Washington DC kayak registration requirements

In Washington DC, the boating laws require all vessels to be registered and titled regardless of whether they are motorized or not. Watercrafts of all lengths, including canoes and kayaks, must be registered, including US coast guard documented boats. The only exemption I if your vessel has a valid registration in a different state and will be navigating Washington DC waters for less than 50 consecutive days.

3. Pennsylvania Kayak Registration Requirements

All watercrafts sailing in Pennsylvanian state forests or parks need to be registered regardless of whether they are motorized or not.  All canoes, kayaks, and small boats need to have a registration card before being allowed on the water. For non-motorized vessels, you can get a launching permit from state park offices or the Pennsylvania fish and boat commission. 

4. Minnesota Kayak Registration Requirements

In Minnesota, all non-motorized boats over 10 feet long and motorized watercraft need to be registered by the department of natural resources. This includes SUPs, kayaks, and inflatable boats. The only exception is vessels registered in other states sailing on Minnesota waters for less than 90 consecutive days and non-motorized boats under 10 feet. 

5. Illinois Kayak Registration Requirements

Vessels that are powered, including kayaks with trolling motors, need to be registered and titled. You can do this at the Illinois department of natural resources. In this state, non-powered vessels don’t need to be registered.

As you can see, registration requirements are different for each state, and it is wise to consult with your local authorities to be sure of what is required of you before getting into the water.

Frequently Asked Questions On Kayak Registration

Q. Am I Required To Register My Kayak If I Travel To A State The Requires Kayak Registration?

In most states, the registration laws apply to the residents only, and visitors are exempted from registering their vessels if they navigate for less than 90 or 60 days. Paddlers are required to register their boat in the state of principal use; that is, the state where it will be used most. If you exceed the number of days given to out-of-state paddlers, you will be required to register your kayak in that state.

Q. Can I Transfer Ownership Of My Kayak After It’s Registered

Yes, you can. If you happen to sell your kayak when the registration is still valid, the new owner can use it for up to 30 days without transferring ownership. However, you will be responsible for notifying the department about the sale.

Final Thoughts

 Registering your kayak with a trolling motor is a requirement in most states. Sometimes it is not mandatory, and you need to check with your local authorities for the rules and regulations in your specific condition. Being knowledgeable about the laws in your state will help you evade unnecessary fines and tickets. We hope that this article has helped you answer any questions you might have had and enlightened you on some important considerations when applying for boat registration.


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