How To Register A Kayak In Ohio

All water vessels in the state of Ohio need to be registered by law, and that includes kayaks. However, there are a few exceptions…. but we’ll get to that.

So how exactly do you register your kayak in Ohio and what do you need to do it? To give you some advice and hopefully to ease your concerns, we’ve put together this helpful guide.

How To Register A Kayak In Ohio? - Pinterest Image

I Need To Register? Why?

Ohio law requires that all water-going vessels are registered with the state’s Department of Natural Resources. All kayaks, including inflatables fall into this category. So before you head out on the water in your kayak, it must be registered and you must display the registration decal on your vessel.


There are a couple of exceptions that may mean that registration is not required for your kayak. If you are in the state for a vacation and you bring your vessel into Ohio from another state or country, then you do not need to register your kayak.

Similarly, if you are participating in a kayaking competition in Ohio and you are ordinarily resident in another state, you will not need to register your kayak. As long as you and your kayak are not in Ohio for longer than 60 days.

It might be worth noting that paddle boards are also exempt from the registration laws.

How To Register A Kayak Or Small Boat In Ohio

If you have a kayak, canoe or any other paddle/hand powered boat then you can register it with an Alternative Registration. This will give you registration for 3 years.

However, if you plan to attach any type of motor, or even a sail to your craft you will need to register it as a Traditional Registration, as your Alternative Registration will be invalid if you attach a motor or sail (even if it’s temporary).

The decal you receive must be attached to your vessel (shameless plug: how to place decals on your kayak) so that it can be seen, either at the bow or stern. One recommended place to display it on your kayak is at the stern, just behind the cockpit.

Keep in mind that you will also be required to carry the registration paperwork with you while you’re out on the water.

Where To Register

There are many locations all across Ohio where you can register your kayak in person. This can sometimes mean it’s quicker for you to get out on the water, as you can receive your registration decal right away and then head out paddling.

If you have previously registered your boat and you need to renew your registration, you can do that online.

What You Need

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    Completed registration application form (which can be downloaded)
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    Payment of fees
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    Proof of ownership (such as a receipt)
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    Driver’s license or other official photo ID
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    Hull Identification Number

What Else Is Required?

Personal Flotation Devices (PFDs) are required for every person on the kayak, whether they’re paddling or not. Children under 10 years old are required to wear a PFD at all times while on the water.

For paddling between sunset and sunrise, you are also required to have a white light or lantern so your kayak is visible to other water users in the dark. And during these hours, if you’re paddling on Lake Eerie you are also required to carry a visual distress signal.

You may also require additional safety equipment, particularly if your boat is motorized.

Ohio Required Boating Safety Equipment

Finishing Up

Registering your kayak in Ohio can be pretty easy once you know how and where to do it. You can then explore the many lakes and waterways that Ohio has to offer. Just make sure you know the type of craft you’re registering, so you can ensure you are applying for the correct registration.

Let us know how you get on and don’t forget to share this information with your fellow kayakers to make sure everyone’s following the rules. And remember to stay safe on the water. 

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Click Here to Leave a Comment Below 13 comments
Deb Loede - June 5, 2019

How much does it cost to register a kayak in Ohio

    Scott - June 9, 2020

    $20 – see link

KT - June 16, 2019

The Alternative Registration costs $17 plus a $3 writing fee plus a $5 waterway conservation fee, for a total of $25 for three years.

(You need a traditional registration if you are going to add a sail or motor though. Those cost only $20)

    Ashley McMahan - May 19, 2020

    Where do you get them registered?

      tiphanie - May 24, 2020

      Exactly, I mean the entire article is about how and where to register your kayak and it never tells you where, I am completely baffled by this…

nicole - July 10, 2019

i wanted to buy a kayak off of a guy but he dont have papers is there any way to tell if its reported stolen ?

Anonymous - May 18, 2020

where can I buy kayacks licences in ohio near 44413

Anonymous - May 24, 2020

Do you realize that under the heading Where to Register, this article never, in any section, says where to register your kayak in Ohio? ????

Tara - June 6, 2020

I just registered my kayak the other day at my local BMV. You can only use cash they don’t accept any other form to register. It was a pretty easy process. I bought the alternative registration because I didn’t want to have to buy the stickers myself.

Samantha Lancaster - June 7, 2020

Does anyone know what I do if I’ve lost my registration card? Not the stickers, he actual registration? Im trying to renew but i dont have the boat number, apparently it’s on the renewal notice but ive lost that too.

    Anonymous - June 10, 2020

    The boat I.D. number is on your boat.

Anonymous - July 9, 2020

What if I don’t have proof of purchase on a Kayak when getting it registered?


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