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Oregon Kayak Laws And Regulations

Mark Armstrong
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Oregon can be an ideal place for kayaking and boating, with lakes, rivers and a scenic coastline. But what about the Oregon kayak laws that you need to know about?

We have put together this quick guide to help you follow the regulations and, most importantly, stay safe while you’re out on Oregon’s waters.

If you want to read our Oregon kayaking destination guide, read this: https://kayakguru.com/kayaking-oregon/

Oregon Kayak & Boat Registration Laws

Without A Motor

Boats without a motor do not need to be registered in Oregon. However, this does not apply to sailboats that are 12 feet or longer, as these vessels will need to be registered. You do not need to register a kayak or canoe unless it has a motor.


All motorized vessels need to be titled and registered in Oregon in order to be used on Oregon waters. This applies to all motorized boats regardless of the size or type of motor.

Cost Of Registration

The cost of registering your boat depends on its length. The cost increases by $5.95 for every additional foot in length. To register a boat up to 5 foot the cost is $34.75. Up to 6 foot it’s $40.70, for example. A 13 foot sailing vessel is $82.35.

There is also a title fee of $75.

How To Register

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First, you need to fill out an Application for Boat Title and/or Registration and submit it along with the Manufacturer’s Statement of Origin to the Oregon State Marine Board.

After you’ve submitted the documents and paid the relevant fees, you will receive your Certificate of Number, title and validation decals. The numbers need to be attached to your boat so that they are clearly visible above the water line on both sides of your bow. Your validation decal should also be displayed next to your number on both sides.

You should carry your Certificate of Number on your boat at all times and have it ready for inspection when necessary.

Oregon PFD Boating Regulations (Life Jackets/Vests)

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Oregon law states that there must be a wearable US Coast Guard approved life jacket on board for each person on the craft. The PFD (Personal Flotation Device) must be in a serviceable condition and be an appropriate size for the wearer.

If you’re heading into Class III whitewater or higher, it is the law that every person on the boat must wear a correctly fitting and secure PFD.

Vessels greater than 16 feet are required to also have a throwable Type IV PFD, but this does not apply to kayaks or canoes.


Children aged 12 and under must wear a US Coast Guard approved life jacket at all times while on a vessel that is underway. This applies when the child is on an open-deck vessel or cockpit but not in an enclosed cabin.

What About Alcohol Laws (BUI – Boating Under The Influence)?

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It is illegal to boat while under the influence of alcohol or drugs in Oregon. The blood alcohol limit is 0.08% which can result in a BUI conviction. In Oregon a BUI can affect your driving privileges and a combination of DUIs (Driving Under the Influence) and BUIs is a felony on the fourth offense.

If you are found to be boating under the influence you could face a fine of up to $6250 and up to a year in prison. If convicted you will also have to pass a safe boating class. You will also not be allowed to operate a boat for one year and your boat registrations will be suspended for three years.

Other Kayak & Boating Laws in Oregon

Minimum Age To Kayak/Boat

There is no minimum age to operate a kayak or canoe in Oregon. For motorized boats, the minimum age is 12. However, children aged 12 to 15 need to have passed an approved boating safety course and carry their Boater Education Card with them when operating a vessel.

Children aged 12 to 15 can operate a vessel with a 10 hp motor or less without adult supervision. For boats with motors greater than 10 hp direct adult supervision is required and the supervising adult needs to also have a Boater Education Card.

All adults who operate a motorized vessel with a motor greater than 10 hp are required to have a Boater Education Card.

Waterway Access Permits

Before you head out on Oregon’s waters you will need a Waterway Access Permit. This can be obtained through the Boat Oregon Store online. These permits are required for all boats 10 feet or longer and are a replacement for the Aquatic Invasive Species Permit.

The cost of a one week permit is $7 or you can buy a one year permit for $17 or a two year permit for $30. There is a $115 fine if you don’t have one.

Do I Need Lights On My Kayak?

Yes, if you are operating a kayak during the hours between sunset and sunrise you will need to display a white light on your vessel. This also applies if your boat is anchored during these nighttime hours. The light can be a handheld flashlight or lantern that can be displayed in enough time to prevent a collision.

Video: What Is Legally Required To Paddle a Kayak, Canoe, Or SUP In Oregon

What About Maritime Distress Signals?

Visual Distress Signals (VDS) are required when boating or kayaking on federally controlled waters in Oregon. This includes coastal waters and the mouth of the Columbia River.

If you’re in a kayak or other non-motorized vessel less than 26 feet long then you are only required to carry night signals on board. Other vessels are required to have both day and night signals on board in order to meet federal requirements.

You will need to have three Visual Distress Signals with you on board if you operate between sunset and sunrise. These can include handheld flares or an electric distress light.

You are also required to have a whistle or other sound producing device on board on all Oregon state waters.

Wrapping Up

If your boat has any kind of motor, including a trolling motor, remember you’ll need to register it before you use it on any of Oregon’s waters.

If you’re heading out onto Oregon’s Pacific coastline you will need to make sure you have sufficient visual distress signals and a whistle in case you don’t make it back to shore before dark.

Feel free to share this if you think others might find it useful. We’d love to hear your thoughts so leave us a comment.

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