Missouri Kayak Laws (Rules and Regulations)


Missouri Kayak Laws - Rules and Regulations

Missouri kayak laws are set and governed by the Missouri Department Of Conservation and the Missouri State Water Patrol Division enforces those kayaking rules and regulations.

Missouri has over 400 spots and waterways where kayaking and canoeing can take place. With such a wide array of available options, it’s not surprising that Missouri is popular for boating, kayaking, and other water vessel activities.

Here’s a summary of what you need to know about Missouri kayak laws.

Legal Disclaimer: This article was written for informational purposes only. I am not an attorney and am not giving legal advice. If you have specific questions about your state’s laws, you should consult a local attorney.

Missouri Kayak Laws Summary

  • Missouri Kayaking Laws – Missouri law considers kayaks and canoes to be non-mechanically propelled vessels.
  • Missouri Kayak Registration – Non-motorized vessels are exempt from registration in Missouri.
  • Motorized Kayak Registration – All mechanically propelled vessels must be titled and registered with the Missouri Department of Revenue. This includes a trolling motor on a canoe or kayak.
  • Kayak Operator Licensing in Missouri – Operators must have a Missouri driver’s license or boating safety identification card.
  • Motorized Kayaking Age – Operators of a motorboat or personal watercraft (PWC) must be at least 14 years of age or under direct supervision of another person 16 years of age or older.
  • Kayaking BUI Law – Missouri has a Boating While Intoxicated (BWI) law. In Missouri, a BUI charge is a class B misdemeanor offense with the ability to become up to a class B felony. A person is operating illegally when they operate a vessel while in an intoxicated condition. (see below for further details)
  • Kayaking Life Jacket Law – All vessels must be equipped with a wearable for each person on board. (see below for kayak and canoe specifics)
  • Kayak Lights Law – Nonmotorized vessels must at least carry a white lantern or flashlight that can be visible from all directions.
  • Kayaking Sounding Devices – Vessels more than 16 feet long are required to carry on board a whistle or horn to make an efficient sound signaling position. (see below for additional regulations)
  • Kayaking VDS Law – All federal waterways in Missouri require USCG approved Visual Distress Signals (VDS).

That only summarizes Missouri 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 Missouri.

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Missouri Kayak Registration

Non-Motorized

Do you have to register a kayak in Missouri? No. Non-motorized vessels are exempt from registration and titling requirements in Missouri.The Handbook of Missouri Boating Laws and ResponsibilitiesOpens in a new tab.

Motorized

Do you have to register a kayak with a trolling motor in Missouri? Yes. All non-motorized vessels, unless specifically exempted, must be registered with the Missouri Department of Revenue and display a decal and license number. Registrations expire on June 30th of the third year after acquisition.

Titling

Missouri Vessel Titling: “All motorized vessels and all sailboats over 12 feet in length must be titled.” Canoes and Kayaks do not have to be titled unless a trolling motor will be attached to them. 

Registration Resources

Missouri Department of Revenue Titling and Registration page – Titling and registration linksOpens in a new tab.

Related Article: Paddle Board Registration

Missouri Kayaking Operator Education Laws

Non-Motorized

Do you need a license to kayak in Missouri? Yes. “All persons who operate any vessel on the lakes of the State of Missouri must have on board: 

  • A boating safety identification card issued by the Missouri State Highway Patrol and a photo I.D. or
  • A Missouri Driver’s License or non-driver’s license with a boating safety endorsement.” – Missouri Boater Education LawOpens in a new tab.

Motorized

Do you need a license to operate a motorized kayak in Missouri? Yes. Operation of any vessel in Missouri requires a license or boating safety identification card.

Youth

All persons must be at least 14 years of age to operate a motorboat or personal watercraft unless under direct, on-board supervision by a parent, guardian, or someone 16 years of age or older.

Missouri Kayaking BWI Laws

Can you get a DUI on a kayak in Missouri? Yes, you can get a DUI on a kayak in Missouri. In Missouri, it’s against the law to operate a vessel while in an intoxicated condition. You can get the equivalent of a DUI, a BWI (Boating While Intoxicated) in Missouri with a Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) of 0.08%. – Missouri Boating While Intoxicated StatuteOpens in a new tab.

Related Article: Can You Get a DUI on a Kayak?

Missouri Kayak Life Jacket Laws

Do you need a life jacket to kayak in Missouri? Yes. All vessels must have one wearable PFD for each person on board. Children under the age of 7 must wear a USCG-approved PFD at all times unless in a totally enclosed area.

Missouri PFD Details:

  • All vessels must be equipped with a wearable PFD for each person on board or being towed.
  • All vessels have at least one Type I, II, III, or V PFD that is wearable, in good and serviceable condition, and of the proper size for each person on board.

PFD Age Laws

What age do you have to wear a life jacket in Missouri? Children under 7 years of age are required to wear a life jacket at all times when aboard a vessel unless they are confined to an entirely enclosed area such as a cabin. 

Type IV Throwable PFD

Do I need a Type IV “throwable” on my kayak in Missouri? Possibly. All vessels 16 feet in length or longer  must be equipped with a readily accessible USCG-approved Type IV throwable device.

Related Article: Kayak Life Jacket Laws by State (50 State List)

Missouri Kayaking Lights Laws

What lights do I need on my kayak at night? Powered Vessels (kayaks and/or canoes with a trolling motor) require red and green sidelights visible from at least one mile away, as well as an all-round white light visible from at least two miles away.

While anchored or moored, only the all-round white light is necessary.

Unpowered vessels must carry a white lantern or flashlight that can be displayed when necessary. If practical, they should also display red and green sidelights and a sternlight.

Missouri Kayaking Sounding Devices Laws

Do I need a whistle on a kayak in Missouri? All vessels between 16 and 40 feet in length must carry a whistle or horn on board to signal position when necessary.

The sounding device should be capable of producing a continuous sound for two seconds that is 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.

VDS – Visual Distress Signaling Devices

Any federally owned body of water in Missouri requires Visual Distress Signaling Devices.

Night Signals

On federal waters, between sunset and sunrise all vessels have to have night VSD on board. Kayaks and canoes must carry electric distress lights or 3 pyrotechnic devices.

Day Signals

On federal waters, motorized vessels, such as a kayak or canoe with a trolling motor, that are over 16 feet must carry three daytime VSD signalling devices.

Missouri Kayaking Fire Extinguisher Laws

Do I need a fire extinguisher on my motorized kayak in Missouri? No. Even if you have a trolling motor on your kayak, if the fuel tank isn’t permanently installed or in an enclosure and you do not have flammable fluids on board, 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 Missouri Kayaking Laws Resources

Boating Law Enforcement

Missouri State Water Patrol Division officers and sheriffs enforce Missouri’s boat and water safety laws.

As always, USCG officers enforce federally controlled waters.

Steve W

I'm Steve, the research and technology workhorse behind Paddle Camp. I do tons of research on all our family's paddling gear before I buy or recommend anything. I grew up canoeing with my dad and brother. A few years ago I bought paddle boards for my daughters, myself, and my wife. Ever since then, we plan most of our vacations around kayaking, canoeing, or paddle boarding.

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