Mississippi kayak laws are set and governed by the Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks and Mississippi law enforcement enforces those kayaking rules and regulations.
In addition to the mighty Mississippi River, Mississippi has thousands of miles of river tributaries and dozens of lakes and reservoirs to paddle. This makes Mississippi a popular kayaking, canoeing and boating destination.
Here’s a summary of what you need to know about Mississippi kayak laws.
Not a Lawyer Disclaimer: I am not an attorney. More importantly, I am not your attorney. This article is not legal advice. If you desire legal advice, consult a competent, licensed attorney in your area.
Mississippi Kayak Laws Summary
- Mississippi Kayaking Laws – Mississippi law considers kayaks and canoes to be non-motorized vessels.
- Mississippi Kayak Registration – Kayaks and canoes without propulsion machinery, such as an engine, are exempt from registration.
- Motorized Kayak Registration – All vessels equipped with propulsion machinery must be registered and numbered for identification. This includes a trolling motor on a canoe or kayak.
- Kayak Operator Licensing in Mississippi – All persons born after June 30, 1980 must have passed a boating education course approved by the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks to legally operate a vessel.
- Motorized Kayaking Age – Any person under 12 years of age must also be accompanied by someone who is at least 21 years of age to operate a vessel, including a kayak.
- Kayaking BUI Law – Mississippi has a Boating Under the Influence (BUI) law that applies to motorized vessels. In Mississippi, a BUI charge is generally a misdemeanor offense. A person is operating illegally when their blood alcohol content is .08% or above, or they are under the influence of drugs or intoxicating substances. (see below for further details)
- Kayaking Life Jacket Law – All vessels must be equipped with a Type I, II, or III PFD for each person on board. (see below for kayak and canoe specifics)
- Kayak Lights Law – All vessels must have a 360 degree white light between sunset and sunrise.
- Kayaking Sounding Devices – Any vessel less than 39.4 feet in length is required to make an efficient sound signal to signal your position in periods of reduced visibility. (see below for further regulations)
- Kayaking VDS Law – All boats less than 16 feet in length operating between sunset and sunrise must be equipped with visual distress signals such as flares.
That only summarizes Mississippi boating laws applied to kayaking and canoeing. The details are more in-depth and specific. Read on to find out how to paddle legally in Mississippi.
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Mississippi Kayak Registration
Do you have to register a kayak in Mississippi? No. Only sailboats and vessels with propulsion machinery must be registered. – Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks
Do you have to register a kayak with a trolling motor in Mississippi? Yes. All watercraft, unless specifically exempted, must be registered with the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks and numbered for identification. Registrations are good for three years from the last day of the month it was originally registered.
Mississippi Vessel Titling: Vessel and motor titling is not mandatory in Mississippi, but you may choose to title your vessel.
Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks Boating Registration page – Titling and registration links
Related Article: Paddle Board Registration
Mississippi Kayaking Operator Education Laws
Do you need a license to kayak in Mississippi? You must have a Boater’s Safety Education Card to legally kayak in Mississippi, unless you were born before June 30, 1980.
Do you need a license to operate a motorized kayak in Mississippi? Operating a motorboat or personal watercraft requires passing an approved boating education course for anyone born after June 30, 1980.
Any person under 12 years of age must also be accompanied by someone who is at least 21 years of age to operate a vessel.
Mississippi Kayaking OUI Laws
Can you get a DUI on a kayak in Mississippi? Yes, you can get a DUI on a kayak in Mississippi if it has an engine. In Mississippi, it’s against the law to operate a watercraft with a motor of 25 horsepower or greater while under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or other intoxicating substances. You can get the equivalent of a DUI, a BUI (Boating Under the Influence) in Mississippi with a Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) of 0.08%. You can also be charged if there is “impaired thought and action and loss of normal control of a person’s faculties to such an extent as to endanger any person”.
Related Article: Can You Get a DUI on a Kayak?
Mississippi Kayak Life Jacket Laws
Do you need a life jacket to kayak in Mississippi? Yes. All vessels must have one Coast Guard approved personal flotation device of Type I, II or III for each person on board. The PFDs must be readily accessible, and all persons under 12 years of age, when in the open portion of a vessel, must wear a Type I, II, or III PFD.
Mississippi PFD Details:
- All vessels must be equipped with a Type I, II, or III PFD for each person on board or being towed.
- All vessels have at least one Type I, II, or III PFD that is USCG–approved, wearable, and of the proper size for each person on board.
PFD Age Laws
What age do you have to wear a life jacket in Mississippi? Life jackets must be worn by all youth 12 and under when they are in an open portion of a vessel.
Type IV Throwable PFD
Do I need a Type IV “throwable” on my kayak in Mississippi? Yes, if the kayak or canoe is 16 feet in length or longer, it must have a USCG-approved Type IV onboard.
Related Article: Kayak Life Jacket Laws by State (50 State List)
Mississippi Kayaking Lights Laws
What lights do I need on my kayak at night? All vessels, including canoes and kayaks, must have a 360 degree white light between sunset and sunrise.
Mississippi Kayaking Sounding Devices Laws
Do I need a whistle on a kayak in Mississippi? Any vessel less than 39.4 feet in length is required to make an efficient sound signal to signal your position in periods of reduced visibility.
The sounding device must be capable of producing a four-second blast audible for at least one-half mile.
The best “sounding” device for kayakers and canoeists is a whistle attached to your PFD in a place that’s quick and easy to deploy.
Here’s what we consider to be the best whistle for kayaking.
VDS – Visual Distress Signaling Devices
All boats less than 16 feet in length operating between sunset and sunrise must be equipped with visual distress signals such as flares. All boats longer than 16 feet in length must always be equipped with visual distress signaling devices.
Between sunset and sunrise all vessels have to have night VSD on board.
Vessels longer than 16 feet must carry VSD signalling devices.
Mississippi Kayaking Fire Extinguisher Laws
Do I need a fire extinguisher on my motorized kayak in Mississippi? No. Even if you have a trolling motor on your kayak, if the fuel tank isn’t permanently installed or in an enclosure, you aren’t required to have a fire extinguisher.
Regardless of the law, we recommend carrying a small class B-I fire extinguisher if you have a trolling motor on your kayak or canoe. The worst thing in the world is a fire on a boat with no way to put it out, especially if you’re far from the shore.
Additional Mississippi Kayaking Laws Resources
Boating Law Enforcement
Mississippi law enforcement officers and sheriffs enforce Mississippi’s boat and water safety laws.
As always, USCG officers enforce federally controlled waters throughout Mississippi.