Ohio Kayak Registration – A Comprehensive Guide

Are you fond of kayaking? Do you own a kayak but you think that you’re unsure about its registration process? Have this question ‘What is the process of kayak registration in Ohio’ popped up in your mind? Well, worry no more because we are here to answer all your queries. 

Every state in the US has different laws for kayak registration. If you’re from Ohio, you’re in luck. This guide is going to sum up the registration process of kayaks to make sure that you don’t violate any Ohio kayaking laws.


Everything You Need to Know about Kayak Registration in Ohio

Certainly, for a beginner, this step of boat registration in Ohio can be confusing. It can flood your mind with a lot of thoughts and questions.  How to register a kayak in Ohio without a title? If I don’t register it, would there be a fine for unregistered kayak in Ohio? Can I register my kayak online in Ohio?  Well, keep scrolling because we are going to provide you with some comprehensive information to make this step easier for you.  


Do You Have To Register a Kayak in Ohio?

If you are using any watercraft (sailboat, inflatable boat, canoe, kayak, pedal boat, etc.) across Ohio waters, then you need to register it 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.
  • Not being a citizen of Ohio and being only here to take part in a kayaking competition.
  • Temporarily visiting the United States for vacation purposes or otherwise.

(Note: Even though paddleboards are classified as watercrafts, however, you don’t have to register them for use in the United States.)


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?


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.

Where to Register Kayak in Ohio?

You can register your kayak through a boat registration agent located at different locations all across Ohio. Firstly, visit a boat registration agent in person if this is the first time you are registering your kayak. On the other hand, if your kayak was already registered, it only requires registration renewal, which can be done online from home. (A list of boat registration agents in Ohio is available here.

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! 


*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 you need to renew it. Watercraft registrations expire on March 1.

How Do I Renew My Kayak Registration?

 You can do it online using a secure web browser by clicking here.  

At the time of booking, you will get Ohio boat registrations which would include a PIN code for your watercraft. You will need your ‘OH’ boat number and PIN code to renew your kayak registration online. 

Where Do I Put My Registration Number On My Kayak?



Once you register your kayak with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources by a water boat registration agent, receive a registration decal. The decal is a paper tag that is a proof of registration. A registration number will be assigned to your kayak, 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, place the number and decal on either side of the kayak where it is easily visible. Two decals will be provided to you, one for the port side of your kayak, and the other for the starboard side.  Position the registration number 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!


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

Once you’ve bought a kayak, you have to make sure that you’re not breaking any Ohio kayaking laws. Getting an Ohio Kayak license by the process of registration would make sure that you steer clear of any legal trouble. We tried to answer all possible questions about Ohio boat registration. If you have more questions, let us know in the comments. Have fun kayaking!

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: