Ohio Kayak Registration – A Guide

Are you fond of kayaking? Do you want to learn how to kayak but you’re not sure what the procedure is? Every state in the US has different laws for kayak registration. If you’re from Ohio, you’re in luck. This guide sums up the entire registration process of kayaks in the state of Ohio.

Do you need to register a kayak?

Any watercraft (sailboat, inflatable boat, canoe, kayak, pedal boat, etc.) that is to be used across Ohio waters needs to be registered with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources. It is illegal to operate a Kayak in Ohio waters without a valid registration. However, there are certain conditions under which you are not required by the law to register your kayak. 

These exceptions are as follows:

  • If your kayak is already registered in another state and you are visiting Ohio for 60 days or less.
  • If you are not a citizen of Ohio and are only here to take part in a kayaking competition.
  • If you are only temporarily visiting the United States for vacation purposes or otherwise.

(Note: Despite being classified as a watercraft, paddleboards do not need to be registered for use in the United States.)

Which registration do I need to get for my kayak?

Depending on whether your kayak is hand-powered or motor-propelled, you will need either an Alternative Registration or a Traditional Registration.

  • Alternative Registration: Non-motorized Kayaks are eligible for Alternative Registration. This registration includes a base cost, a writing fee, and a waterway conservation fee that will last you three years.
  • Traditional Registration: An Alternative Registration is invalid if your kayak has sails/motors attached to it. If you plan to attach motors/sails to your kayak anytime in the future, even if it is for a short period, you need the Traditional Registration for your kayak.

 How to Register a Kayak in Ohio?

ohio kayak registration plate


Follow the guidelines below to acquaint yourself with the entire process of getting your kayak registered under Ohio law.

Where to Register Kayak in Ohio?

A kayak is registered through a boat registration agent located at different locations all across Ohio. You will have to visit a boat registration agent in person if this is the first time you are getting your kayak registered. A kayak that has already been registered in the past only requires registration renewal, which can be done online from home. (A list of boat registration agents in Ohio is available here: http://watercraft.ohiodnr.gov/registrationagents.)

What do I need to register my kayak?

You will need to have the following items on you and other requirements met to register your kayak:

  • A filled-out application from the official Ohio watercraft registration website. (You can find this here: http://watercraft.ohiodnr.gov/registration.)
  • Hull identification number.
  • The payment for your kayak registration.
  • Evidence that the kayak belongs to you (proof of ownership). This evidence could be in the form of a receipt, written bill, or any other official document.
  • Acceptable ID – this could be your driver’s license or any other form of photo ID.
  • Personal Floatation Devices (PFDs) for every individual on the kayak – it does not matter if they are paddling the vessel or not.
  • A light source such as a lantern on your kayak for travel takes place between sunset and sunrise (night time). Your light source needs to be strong enough to illuminate your kayak for others to see clearly in the dark.
  • A visual distress signal if you are paddling your kayak on Lake Eerie.

How much does it cost to register my kayak in Ohio?

The boat registration fee in Ohio depends on the type of the boat, its size, and whether you are getting the Alternative Registration or the Traditional Registration. Typically, an Alternative Registration will cost you $25, whereas a Traditional Registration is only $20. The length of your boat dictates how much fee you pay for your boat, for example, boats that are less than 16’ long cost $33. Meanwhile, boats that are 65’ long or more cost $98. Recreational kayaks are less than 12 feet long, whereas touring or sea kayaks can be anywhere from 16 to 23 feet long! However, the most common length for a kayak is 10 feet.

Check out https://greatlakesboatworks.com/odnr-registrations to find out how much your kayak registration will cost you! 

ohio kayak registration fee

*Boat registration fees from https://greatlakesboatworks.com/odnr-registrations

For how long is my kayak registration valid?

Your Ohio Kayak registration certificate/decal is valid for three years, after which it needs to be renewed. Watercraft registrations expire on March 1.

How do I renew my kayak registration?

You do not need to visit a boat registration agent to renew your kayak. You can do it online using a secure web browser at: https://apps.ohiodnr.gov/watercraft/erenewal/default.aspx

Ohio boat registrations include a PIN code that is issued to your watercraft at the time of booking. You will need your ‘OH’ boat number and PIN code to renew your kayak registration online. Don’t forget to have your online payment means (VISA or MasterCard) on you to pay for your registration!

Where do I put my registration number on my kayak?

ohio kayak registration template


Once your kayak has been registered with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources by a water boat registration agent, you will be given a registration decal. The decal is a specially designed square paper tag that can be stuck to your kayak, as proof of registration. Your kayak will also be assigned a registration number, once it has been registered. This registration number begins with ‘OH’ followed by four numbers and two letters. Both, the registration number and decal visually reflect that your kayak is licensed for use across Ohio waters under state law.

You will want to make sure that the registration number and decal are visible on your kayak.

(An example of an Ohio registration number.)

To showcase your proof of registration, you need to place the number and decal on either side of the kayak where it can be seen easily (preferably at the stern, behind the cockpit where it is closer to the forward half of the kayak). You will be given two decals, one for the port side of your kayak, and the other for the starboard side. The registration number should be positioned such that it reads from left to right, with a minimum height of 3 inches. Make sure that the characters for the registration number are in block format, spaced out using a hyphen after the ‘OH’ and the four digits, with a background color that contrasts sharply with the body color of the kayak. Finally, try to make sure that there is no other form of writing around the area where you have attached your decal and registration number details – this can be an additional source of confusion that is easily avoidable!

Don’t also forget to carry your registration certificate on board!

Safety Equipment for kayaking in Ohio

Life Jackets

The state while only requires personal flotation devices (PFDs) for children under the age of 10, should still carry these around since they save lives. You need type 1,2,3 or, 5 PFDs to meet the requirement.

Distress Signals

For doing some late-night kayaking on Lake Erie the Ohio DNR requires that you have an electric signaling light on your kayak. Be it as simple as a torch

Navigation Lights

When kayaking at night, Ohio DNR requires you to carry navigation lights to avoid collisions with other vessels. A waterproof lantern should do the job.

Sound Device

When kayaking on Lake Eerie, the Muskigim river, or the Ohio River, you need to have a sound device on board. A lifeguard whistle qualifies as a sound device, and that won’t be a problem to carry, would it?

What if I am a new owner of a used kayak?

If you are a new owner of a used kayak, then the original owner needs to transfer the watercraft registration under your name before you can begin using it. For the transfer to take place, simply request the original owner to fill in the ‘transfer section’ on the application form, which can be submitted to a boat registration agent along with the registration certificate. Until the title is transferred to the new owner of the kayak, it may still be operated for under 45 days. It is possible to do so as long as you have either of the following:

  • Temporary watercraft registration from a boat registration agent
  • Receipt (proof of payment) from kayak dealer who sold it to you

Read More…

Here at XGearHub, we have great content for your adventuring needs. Explore now!

Walmart Fishing License Guide

Florida Kayaking Laws

Michael Holding

Michael is an outdoor adventurer and a kayaking enthusiast who loves to share his experiences with others. He is the Chief Editor at XgearHub.

Click Here to Leave a Comment Below 0 comments

Leave a Reply: