Oklahoma Kayaking Laws (Rules and Regulations)


Oklahoma Kayaking Laws - rules and Regulations

Oklahoma kayak laws are set and governed by the Oklahoma Department of Public Safety and the Oklahoma Tax Commission. Oklahoma law enforcement are responsible for enforcing those kayaking rules and regulations.

Oklahoma is a great state for outdoor boating recreation, with over 200 lakes that permit public access and over one million surface acres of waterways that offer opportunities for boaters to paddle, swim, and fish on. 

Here’s a summary of what you need to know about Oklahoma 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.

Oklahoma Kayak Laws Summary

  • Oklahoma Kayaking Laws – Oklahoma law considers kayaks and canoes moved only by paddles or oars to be non-motorized vessels.
  • Oklahoma Kayak Registration – Non-motorized kayaks and canoes are exempt from registration.
  • Motorized Kayak Registration – All motorized watercraft in excess of 10 hp must be registered annually with the Oklahoma Tax Commission. All boats, with a few exceptions, should be registered and titled annually. 
  • Kayak Operator Licensing in Oklahoma – “Every vessel operator must carry either their original boating safety education certification card as proof they have completed the required course or photo identification as proof they are exempt from the education requirement,” according to the Oklahoma Department of Public Safety.
  • Motorized Kayaking Age – Anyone under the age of 12 is not permitted to operated a boat with more than 10 hp.
  • Kayaking BUI Law – In Oklahoma, a person is operating a vessel illegally when their blood alcohol content is .08% or above. However, state law does not include non-motorized canoes or kayaks in the definition of vessel and legality of drinking on these types of boats is much vaguer. Additional laws may apply if the waterway is on state park property.  
  • Kayaking Life Jacket Law – All vessels must be equipped with a USCG-approved PFD for each person on board. Any persons 12 years of age or younger must be wearing their PFD if the boat is less than 26 feet in length. (see below for kayak and canoe specifics)
  • Kayak Lights Law – Power driven boats less than 65.6 feet in length must have red and green sidelights, as well as either an all-around white light or both a masthead and stern light. 
  • Kayaking Sounding Devices – Vessels less than 26 feet in length, including PWCs, should have a whistle or horn on board. Vessels greater than 26 feet should carry either a whistle or horn, as well as a bell.
  • Kayaking VDS Law – On federally controlled waters, all vessels are required to carry U.S. Coast Guard-approved night VDS devices. All vessels, regardless of length or type, should carry night signals when operating between sunset and sunrise.  

That only summarizes Oklahoma 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 Oklahoma. 

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Oklahoma Kayak Registration 

Non-Motorized

Do you have to register a kayak in Oklahoma? No. “Effective July 1, 2013, canoes and paddleboats, as defined below, are no longer subject to titling and/or registration in Oklahoma.” – Oklahoma Tax CommissionOpens in a new tab.. The commission defines canoes and paddleboats as such:

Canoes are defined as “light narrow boat with both ends sharp and which is propelled by paddling and includes similar craft such as kayaks.”

Paddleboats are defined as “a boat less than eight feet in length designed to be propelled solely by human power through a belt, chain or gears.”

Motorized

Do you have to register a kayak with a trolling motor in Oklahoma? Yes. Any motorized vessel in excess of 10 hp, including vessels with electric trolling motors, must be registered annually.

Titling

Oklahoma Vessel Titling: “Application for a title and registration of an outboard motor is made separately from the boat and also must be made within 30 days of the purchase or transfer. Titling and registering a boat and its outboard motor requires completion of two application forms – one for the boat and one for the motor.”

This statement is from the Handbook of Oklahoma Boating Laws and ResponsibilitiesOpens in a new tab.. Titling is mandatory for vessels over 10 hp. Non-motorized crafts such as canoes and kayaks are exempt. 

Registration Resources

To obtain registration and title applications, a person can visit the Oklahoma Tax Commission in Oklahoma City, or visit one of the 300 statewide motor license agent offices. Other options include calling (405) 521-3221 or visiting the webpage www.oktax.state.ok.usOpens in a new tab..

Registration numbers and validation decals must be displayed on both sides of the bow as high above the water line as possible. 

Related Article: Paddle Board Registration

Oklahoma Kayaking Operator Education Laws

Non-Motorized

Do you need a license to kayak in Oklahoma? You do not need a license to operate a non-motorized kayak or canoe in Oklahoma. Kayaks and canoes with no attached motor do not require operator licensing or education.

Motorized

Do you need a license to operate a motorized kayak in Oklahoma? All vessel operators should carry either an original Boater Safety Education certificate or a photo identification that proves the operator is 16 years of age or older. 

Youth

Anyone 12 -15 years of age may operate a motorized PWC of 10 hp or greater if the vessel is properly registered and the person has successfully completed a Boating Safety Education Course. The Boater Education Card must be carried on the person at all times during use of the vessel. 

Persons under the age of 12 are not legally permitted to operate a motorized PWC or other vessels. 

Oklahoma Kayaking OUI Laws 

Can you get a DUI on a kayak in Oklahoma?  You can get the equivalent of a DUI, a BUI (Boating Under the Influence) in Oklahoma when operating a vessel with a Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) of 0.08%. 

State law does not consider non-motorized canoes or kayaks as vessels under BUI law. Additionally, waterways on state park property prohibit beverages containing more than 3.2 percent alcohol by weight. Hard liquor also is prohibited.

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

Oklahoma Kayak Life Jacket Laws

Do you need a life jacket to kayak in Oklahoma? Yes. All vessels must have one Coast Guard approved personal flotation device for each person on board. All persons 12 years of age or younger must be wearing their PFD on vessels under 26 feet in length.

Oklahoma PFD Details:

  • All life jackets must be United States Coast Guard (USCG) approved.
  • All life jackets must me be in good and serviceable condition.
  • All life jackets must be of suitable size for the intended person, and approved for the activity.

PFD Age Laws

What age do you have to wear a life jacket in Oklahoma? Life jackets must be worn by all youth 12 years or younger when they are on a vessel less than 26 feet in length, unless they are in an enclosed area under the deck or in a cabin.

Type IV Throwable PFD

Do I need a Type IV “throwable” on my kayak in North Carolina? Vessels 26 feet and longer must have a USCG–approved Type IV throwable flotation device onboard. 

Related ArticleKayak Life Jacket Laws by State (50 State List)

Oklahoma Kayaking Lights Laws 

What lights do I need on my kayak at night? Power-driven boats less than 65.6 feet in length must have red and green sidelights, as well as either an all-around white light or both a masthead and stern light. Unpowered boats are required to have the red and green sidelights as well. 

For boats that are unpowered and less than 23 feet in length, the red and green sidelights should be used as well only if practical. If not practical, there should be at least one lantern or flashlight onboard.

All boats should have a white light shining between sunset and sunrise in sufficient time to avoid collision. 

Oklahoma Kayaking Sounding Devices Laws 

Do I need a whistle on a kayak in Oklahoma? Vessels less than 26 feet in length, including PWCs, should have a whistle or horn on board. Vessels greater than 26 feet should carry either a whistle or horn, as well as a bell.

VDS – Visual Distress Signaling Devices

On federally controlled waters, all vessels are required to carry U.S. Coast Guard-approved night VDS devices. 

Night Signals

All vessels, regardless of length or type, should carry night signals when operating between sunset and sunrise.  

Day Signals

Most vessels are required to carry day signals as well. Exemptions to this rule are recreational vessels less than 16 feet in length, non-motorized open sailboats less than 26 feet in length, and manually propelled vessels.

Oklahoma Kayaking Fire Extinguisher Laws

Do I need a fire extinguisher on my motorized kayak in Oklahoma? All vessels using flammable liquid as fuel are required to have the proper type, size, and number of fire extinguishers on board.

The following chart details the requirements per vessel length, as provided by the Oklahoma Department of Public SafetyOpens in a new tab.:

Length of VesselWithout Fixed SystemWith Fixed System
Less than 26 ft.One B-INone
26 ft. to less than 40 ft.Two B-I or One B-IIOne B-I
40 ft. to less than 65 ft.One B-I and One B-IITwo B-I or One B-II

We recommend carrying a small class B-I fire extinguisher if you have a trolling motor on your kayak or canoe

Additional Oklahoma Kayaking Laws Resources 

The Handbook of Oklahoma Boating Laws and ResponsibilitiesOpens in a new tab. is a great (and free) online resource that details the majority of boating laws and requirements in the state.

Boating Law Enforcement

Oklahoma’s Highway Patrol officers are the main law enforcement responsible for marine law enforcement. On state park property or USCG controlled water, the related officers may be in charge of enforcement rather than highway patrol.

Boating Education Resources

FREE Paddle Sports Safety CourseOpens in a new tab. from Boaterexam.com

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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