The Essential Guide to Registering Your Kayak in Pennsylvania

If you are a fan of kayaking, canoeing, stand-up paddleboarding, rowboating, or sailing, Pennsylvania offers numerous waterways for you to explore. However, before you hit the water, it’s important to understand the registration process for unpowered boats. Registering your kayak is not only a legal requirement but also provides several benefits. In this guide, we will explain the steps involved in registering your kayak, along with the necessary documentation and alternative options available.

The Importance of Registering Your Kayak

Unpowered boats, such as kayaks, must be registered or display a launch permit to access Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission (PFBC) or Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) State Parks and State Forests. While launch permits are an option, registering your kayak offers several advantages.

  • Recognition Across States: Every state recognizes valid PA boat registrations, allowing you to enjoy kayaking in other states without any issues.

  • Registration Renewal Reminders: With boat registration, you will receive renewal reminders, ensuring that your kayak’s registration is always up to date.

  • Lost or Stolen Boat Recovery: In the unfortunate event that your kayak is lost or stolen, registration helps in the recovery process.

  • Improved Search Efficiency: The PFBC’s boat registration database contains essential information about the boat owners. This data can be instrumental in contacting owners and reducing unnecessary searches for unoccupied “loose” vessels.

  • Federal Funding: Valid boat registrations in Pennsylvania contribute to leveraging federal funding for boating programs. The number of state-registered boats influences the allocation of federal funds to support various boating initiatives.

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Registering and Titling Your Kayak

While registering your kayak is mandatory, titling is required under specific circumstances. Boats currently titled in Pennsylvania or titled in another state when Pennsylvania becomes the primary location of use must be titled and remain titled by all future owners.

To register your unpowered boat, follow these steps:

  1. Complete the Application for Pennsylvania Boat Registration and/or Boat Title form (REV-336).

    • In Section C, enter Code #4 for Engine Drive, Fuel Type, and Prop Type.

    • Leave Section D blank.

    • In Section H, Line 4, note that private party sales of used unpowered boats are exempt from sales tax, unless titled.

  2. Gather the required documentation.

    If your kayak has never been registered or titled in PA, acceptable proof of ownership includes:

    • Title or registration from another state.

    • Manufacturer’s Certificate of Origin (MCO).

    • Additionally, provide:

      • Bill of sale or invoice with names and addresses of the seller and purchaser, and the legal owner (if different from the seller).

      • The location, date of sale, description of the boat, and hull identification number (HIN) for boats built after 1972 or other serial number for boats built in 1972 or before.

      • Affidavit of Purchase/Ownership (PFBC-734) to support the claim of boat ownership.

      • If your kayak has a retail value of less than $2,000 and is registered voluntarily, you may substitute the original receipt from the dealer or other retailer for the MCO.

    If your kayak was previously registered and/or titled, acceptable proof of ownership includes:

    • If the boat was titled, a properly signed title is required.

    • If the boat was registered, provide one of the following:

      • Boat registration card, signed by the last registered owner.

      • Bill of sale, signed by the last registered owner (may be substituted for the seller’s information in Section F and the seller’s signature in Section J of the application).

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Please note that additional documentation may be required in certain circumstances. For more information, visit, contact a PFBC Region Office, visit an authorized issuing agent, or call 866-BoatReg (866-262-8734).

Recommended Registration Option

To ensure a smooth registration process, consider opting for a temporary registration. This option allows you to use your kayak immediately while the permanent registration is being processed. Here’s how it works:

  1. Take the completed application, required documentation, and payment to a Commission office or authorized issuing agent.
  2. You will be issued a 60-day temporary registration that grants you permission to use your kayak.
  3. The boat registration card and a set of validation decals will be mailed to you once the permanent registration is processed.

Alternatively, you can choose to mail your application to PFBC Headquarters. After processing, the Commission will send you the boat registration card and validation decals by mail. Please allow up to 60 days for processing. Remember, it is unlawful to use your kayak until you receive the permanent boat registration.

Certificates of title will be mailed to the primary lienholder, if applicable.

Purchase Launch Permits

In addition to boat registration, you have the option to obtain a launch permit for your unpowered boat. This permit allows you to access PFBC or DCNR State Park or State Forest access points without boat registration. Here’s what you need to know:

  • Instead of boat registration, you can display a launch permit on your kayak.
  • A one-year or two-year launch permit can be purchased.
  • Upon purchase, a 90-day temporary permit will be issued, allowing you to operate your kayak while waiting for the decals to arrive by mail.
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For a secure online renewal option, visit HuntFishPA. Alternatively, you can purchase launch permits in person from Commission offices or authorized issuing agents.

Kayaking in Pennsylvania is an incredible experience, and registering your kayak ensures you are complying with the necessary regulations. Take advantage of the benefits offered by boat registration or launch permits to fully enjoy your time on the water. Happy kayaking!

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