I have to register my boat

Turns out in Ohio, where I live, registration is required for all watercraft, even kayaks. But I'm not sure how to proceed since with a kit boat (mine is a Wood Duck 12) there is no way to show proof of ownership, unless the original receipt for the kit counts.

 Anybody out there from Ohio or another state with similar requirements that can tell me the procedure?

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RE: I have to register my boat

You will need the kit and materials receipts as proof of ownership. You may also have to prove that you paid the Ohio State sales tax before being issued tags. Most, not all states are only worried about collecting the state sales tax. In Ohio I believe you only need registration for kayaks which are considered unpowered vessels not a title or HIN.



RE: I have to register my boat

I too live in Ohio and will be doing the same thing next month.  I called the Div of Watercraft and they said for a home-built craft, I need to have the boat inspected by a watercraft officer and they will issue a registration.


>>>>Owners of homemade boats, boats without a HIN, or boats lacking a 12-character HIN, must contact a Watercraft office. An appointment with a Watercraft Officer may be necessary to inspect the boat and assign a HIN.<<<<< 


Perhaps more important, when you register your boat, pay the extra fee for the registration that allows you to forgo the 4" high external numbers on your hull. >>>

Alternative Registration Option for Hand-powered Vessels 
(ORC 1547.54)

An owner of a handpowered canoe, rowboat or inflatable watercraft may choose to do either of the following:

  1. Have it numbered, pay a lesser registration fee, and obtain square tags; OR
  2. Not have it numbered, pay a higher registration fee, and obtain a rectangular tag.

The owner of a hand-powered canoe, rowboat (including racing shells and rowing sculls) or inflatable watercraft that is exempted from numbering shall securely affix the assigned rectangular tag to the vessel in one of the following manners:

  • in the upper right corner of the transom;
  • on a deck on the rear half of the vessel;
  • on the outside below the port side gunnel; or
  • on the inside of the vessel on the upper portion of the starboard side gunnel so that it is visible from the port side of the vessel.

NOTE: Do not use this alternate registration method if there is a possibility of ever using a motor or sail with this vessel. This registration is issued and renewed through any Division of Watercraft office. (NOTE: Duplicates are only issued through the headquarters in Columbus.)   <<<<

RE: I have to register my boat

I've registered a number of homemade kayaks at the Div. of Watercraft here in Cleveland.  It's a pain to take off work to do it, but the process has always gone smoothly.   You need to schedule a time where an officer will be available to inspect your craft.  They're going to look for a HIN to make sure it's not stolen.  Tell them its a handmade kayak and that you'd like a HIN assigned.  Sometimes I've never had to show any proof that I built it, but I bring plans, book, etc. in case I need "proof".  Usually, a little show-n-tell is all that's required, and the officer is often interested in hearing about it since it's not the usual type of craft that they see.  While I'm filling out paperwork, they've always called down to Columbus to get the HIN number assigned right away.  With the HIN, they can now register the kayak and they'll give you a temporary registration until your stickers are mailed to you (I use the alternate registration for the small sticker).  They'll also mail you a couple aluminum HIN tags that are supposed to be affixed to the kayak.  I've never done this - I've been printing the HIN on tissue paper, and then applying it with epoxy at the stern and in one hidden place inside the cockpit, and then a layer of glass over them for protection.  You're supposed to take the boat back to the ODNR to have them confirm that you actually affixed the tags, but I've never done that.

 Hope that helps,


RE: I have to register my boat


I had to register my rowboat in Wash DC.  It is not a canoe, nor a kayak, so it had to get registered despite being human powered.

Per the registrar's advice over the phone, I prepared a sheet of paper with an explanation of where the boat came from and some printed photos from my build to show that I really did put it together.  Then I took the printout to a notary who notarized it.  

All they wanted was some evidence of where the boat came from.  Then they can make a title for the boat, and then register it.  My official title from the "Government of the District of Columbia" says

  Make of Boat: HOMEBUILT

  Year Built: 2009


 ... yessssssssss.


RE: I have to register my boat

Wait. What? You have to register a Kayak?

What's next, surfboard registration?

No offence to you, your fine country or the awesome Buckeye State, but that's bull****. A few sticks of glued-wood and the guvmint wants a bite?

Maybe it's one of those 'swings-and-roundabouts' things. I'spose y'all can buy a Howitzer at a K-mart but, here in Australia, even air-soft guns are illegal... 

And I want a kayak with a Howitzwer mounted on it, dammit! ;)



RE: I have to register my boat

Kayak-mounted howitzer = quiet respectful jetskiers?

Just a joke, don't everyone get excited.

Be interesting to see if it would do an automatic eskimo roll when fired sideways. Personally, for stability reasons I prefer torpedoes. I build mine from plans using luaun since they're disposable anyway.

Back to the real world - if Ohio paddlers were to form a lobby, maybe the state legislature could be persuaded to exempt homebuilt muscle-powered boats of a certain size from the registration requirements. In the current anti-tax climate, along with the strong build-it-yourself tradition that Ohio residents have, you may actually find enough public sympathy to get your exemption. It's an election year, strike while the iron is hot. At least write to your representatives.



RE: I have to register my boat

Yo Laszlo, The kayak mounted howitzer got me ALL excited, now I can take the piano wire I've got stretched across the bay out back down. Back to the real world-- Please stop talking about kayak registration before those fools up in  Tallahassee hear you. SEEYA Jack

RE: I have to register my boat

I don't mind having to register my rowing craft and canoes in Ohio.  I use a DNR boat ramp every day to launch my rowboat at the lake.  Somebody has to pay for it.  At least we don't have to title hand-powered boats, so there's no sales tax when you buy them.

RE: I have to register my boat

Do you have an HIN? 

 On my kits CLC did not send an HIN with the kit as OH is one few states to require.

Call CLC and have them email you an HIN.


RE: I have to register my boat

Colorado does not require that type of garbage yet...if its a way to make a buck it will come. Our requirment is name and address somewere on the boat. Most handbuilds here have them in the inside of the hull so as not to clutter up the clean look. The big deal here is the battle with the Zebra Mussels--prevention being the best way to stop their spred. Wyoming has posted a new fee to cover this and I believe Colorado will not be to far behind. The yaks and canoes have been exempted from the fee on that one....more money for the 50 cal. mounted on the front..........CZ

RE: I have to register my boat

Good point, Pete. I'm not suggesting not paying for resources that we use (I pay for my ramp use with direct fees or state and local taxes), just that it's done in such a way that doesn't deface the boats.



RE: I have to register my boat

As an upstanding citizen in CT, I found that in some of the states we paddle in, those laws hold true as well. For a home built wooden boat, do you all really think its necessary to, like Laszlo said, deface the boat? What happens if you don't follow that rule? 


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