Playing it safe is one approach, but I just cannot see the point in paying the state more than necessary. Knowing the law and being lawful are more important in my mind that playing it safe. Just my opinion.
With that said, the statute for registration requirements in your state should be easily accessible on the web. Read it carefully, as it can be deceiving initially. For instance below is the Florida regulation. Paragraph 2 sub (d) in the second half clearly states that I do not have to register because it is a non-motor powered kayak (regardless of length).
The 2012 Florida Statutes
VESSELS: TITLE CERTIFICATES; LIENS; REGISTRATION
View Entire Chapter
328.48 Vessel registration, application, certificate, number, decal, duplicate certificate.—
(1)(a) The owner of each vessel required by this law to pay a registration fee and secure an identification number shall file an application with the county tax collector. The application shall provide the owner’s name and address; residency status; personal or business identification, which may include, but need not be limited to, a driver’s license number, Florida identification card number, or federal employer identification number; and a complete description of the vessel, and shall be accompanied by payment of the applicable fee required in s. 328.72. Registration is not required for any vessel that is not used on the waters of this state.
(b) For purposes of registration, the owner may establish proof of ownership of the vessel by submitting with his or her application an executed bill of sale, a builder’s contract, a manufacturer’s statement of origin, a federal marine document, or any other document acceptable to the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles and presented at the time of registration to the agency issuing the registration certificate.
(2) Each vessel operated, used, or stored on the waters of this state must be registered as a commercial vessel or recreational vessel as defined in s. 327.02, unless it is:
(a) A vessel operated, used, and stored exclusively on private lakes and ponds;
(b) A vessel owned by the United States Government;
(c) A vessel used exclusively as a ship’s lifeboat; or
(d) A non-motor-powered vessel less than 16 feet in length or a non-motor-powered canoe, kayak, racing shell, or rowing scull, regardless of length.
(3) The Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles shall issue certificates of registration and numbers for city, county, and state-owned vessels, charging only the service fees required in s. 328.72(7) and (8), provided the vessels are used for purposes other than recreation.
(4) Each certificate of registration issued shall state among other items the numbers awarded to the vessel, the hull identification number, the name and address of the owner, and a description of the vessel, except that certificates of registration for vessels constructed or assembled by the owner registered for the first time shall state all the foregoing information except the hull identification number. The numbers shall be placed on each side of the forward half of the vessel in such position as to provide clear legibility for identification, except, if the vessel is an airboat, the numbers may be placed on each side of the rudder. The numbers awarded to the vessel shall read from left to right and shall be in block characters of good proportion not less than 3 inches in height. The numbers shall be of a solid color which will contrast with the color of the background and shall be so maintained as to be clearly visible and legible; i.e., dark numbers on a light background or light numbers on a dark background. The certificate of registration shall be pocket-sized and shall be available for inspection on the vessel for which issued whenever such vessel is in operation.
(5) A decal signifying the year or years during which the certificate is valid shall be furnished by the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles with each registration certificate issued. The decal issued to an undocumented vessel shall be displayed by affixing it to the port (left) side of the vessel within 6 inches before or after the registration number. The decal issued to a documented vessel shall be placed on the port (left) side of the vessel and may be affixed to a window or the windshield on the port (left) side of the vessel in lieu of being placed on the hull. A decal issued to a dealer shall be affixed, with the registration number, to a removable sign pursuant to s. 328.52(2). Any decal for a previous year shall be removed from a vessel operating on the waters of the state.
(6) When a vessel decal has been stolen, the owner of the vessel for which the decal was issued shall make application to the department for a replacement. The application shall contain the decal number being replaced and a statement that the item was stolen. If the application includes a copy of the police report prepared in response to a report of a stolen decal, such decal shall be replaced at no charge.
(7) Any decal lost in the mail may be replaced at no charge. The service charge shall not be applied to this replacement; however, the application for a replacement shall contain a statement of such fact, the decal number, and the date issued.
(8) Anyone guilty of falsely certifying any facts relating to application, certificate, transfer, number, decal, duplicate, or replacement certificates or any information required under this section shall be punished as provided under this chapter.
History.—s. 1, ch. 59-399; s. 1, ch. 61-511; s. 3, ch. 63-103; s. 1, ch. 65-361; ss. 25, 35, ch. 69-106; ss. 4, 15, ch. 74-327; s. 1, ch. 80-266; s. 50, ch. 80-274; s. 4, ch. 81-100; s. 1, ch. 82-181; s. 2, ch. 83-102; s. 5, ch. 84-184; s. 2, ch. 85-287; s. 5, ch. 85-324; s. 2, ch. 88-336; s. 450, ch. 95-148; s. 50, ch. 95-333; s. 55, ch. 96-413; s. 53, ch. 99-248; s. 11, ch. 99-289; s. 49, ch. 2000-152; s. 41, ch. 2000-313; s. 26, ch. 2000-362; s. 2, ch. 2008-106; s. 23, ch. 2009-86.
Note.—Former s. 371.051; s. 327.11.
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