If you are planning to outfit your boat with a trolling motor, you may be wondering whether it counts as a motorized one. This article has the answers.
Owners of motorized boats are required to register them. But, does adding a trolling motor to a non-motorized boat make your boat motorized? Do you need to register such a boat?
A trolling motor counts as a motorized boat. So, if you add a trolling motor to a non-motorized boat like a canoe, kayak, or inflatable, then it will count as a motorized boat. And considering that your boat now counts as a motorized one, you will also need to register it.
In this guide, we seek to answer the question of whether adding a trolling motor counts as a motorized boat. We will also explore the rules and requirements regarding the registration of motorized and non-motorized boats across the country. So, if you have any questions regarding whether you need to register a boat with a trolling motor or not, this article will answer all of them.
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Do You Need to Register a Boat with a Trolling Motor?
Most states across the country require all owners of motorized boats to register them, regardless of the size of the motor or the size of the boat. But, it’s worth mentioning that boat registration laws and requirements slightly vary from one state to the other.
Also, there are a few states that exempt owners of motorized boats from registering them, if they normally operate their boats on non-federal waters or privately owned lakes.
So, if you own a motorized boat and you operate it on non-federal lakes or a privately owned lake, you may be exempted from registering it. Currently, there are only three states in the country, which offer this exemption. They include Georgia, Florida and Washington.
If you live in Washington state, you should check with your local authorities to determine whether the waters you are planning to use your boat on are considered non-federal or federal. In case you have some doubts, it’s highly advisable to simply register your boat to be on the right side of the law.
Furthermore, some states also offer exemptions for the registration of motorized boats like lifeboats, boats owned by the U.S Government, state, government or the U.S Coast Guard. Also, you may be exempted from registering your motorized boat if you are visiting from another country or state and you are staying for not more than 90 days.
If you live in Oklahoma or Hawaii, then you are exempted from registering your motorized boat, if you will be exclusively using it for racing purposes. As you can see, the registration requirements vary from one state to the other. But overall, the registration exemptions for a motorized boat are few, regardless of the state.
Does a Trolling Motor Count as a Motorized Boat?
Yes. If you have outfitted your boat with a trolling motor, then the authorities will consider it a motorized boat. Therefore, regardless of whether your boat is a canoe, a kayak or an inflatable, as long as it has a trolling motor, then it will count as a motorized boat. Hence, you need to register it. So, make sure you register your boat after purchasing it before you begin using a trolling motor. Failure to do this can lead to fines.
Do You Need to Register a Boat Without a Motor?
You don’t need to register a boat without a motor. However, some states may require you to register your sailboat, whether it’s outfitted with a motor or not. Also, some states may require boat owners to register a boat without a motor, if it surpasses a certain length. However, registration is not necessary for the majority of the states if your boat is not motorized.
Hence, if you own a kayak, rowboat, canoe, paddleboat or any other boat that doesn’t have a motor, then you won’t have to register it. However, some states like Colorado, Maine, Arkansas, Tennessee, Mississippi, Delaware, Alabama, and Kansas will require you to register your sailboat even if it’s non-motorized, regardless of its length.
At the same time, some states will only require you to register your non-motorized sailboat if it surpasses a certain length. Some of the states that fall under this category include:
- Louisiana – over 12 feet
- California – over 8 feet
- North Carolina – over 14 feet
- Oregon – above 12 feet
- Georgia – above 12 feet
- Missouri – over 12 feet
- New Jersey – over 12 feet
- Texas – over 14 feet
- Connecticut – over 19.5 feet
- New Hampshire – over 12 feet
Some states may also require you to register your non-motorized canoe, kayak, inflatable, or any other non-motorized boat if it exceeds a particular length. The states that have this requirement include:
- Minnesota – over 9 feet
- Florida – over 16 feet
- South Dakota – over 12 feet
- Iowa – 13 feet
But generally, registration is not required for non-motorized boats in the majority of the states. Hence, it’s probably nothing to worry about, unless you are purchasing a big-sized non-motorized boat or a sailboat.
Do You Need to Register a Kayak With a Trolling Motor?
Yes. If you own a kayak and you have provisioned it with a trolling motor, then you will need to register it, regardless of the state you live in, the size of the motor or the size of the kayak. But as earlier mentioned, some states may exempt you from having to register a kayak if it has a trolling motor, if you will be operating it on private lakes or non-federal waters. Also, if it doesn’t exceed a certain length, then you may not need to register it. At the end of the day, the rules vary from one state to the other.
Do You Need to Register an Inflatable With a Trolling Motor?
If you own an inflatable and you have equipped it with a trolling motor, you may be probably asking yourself whether you should register it or not. Well, considering that, a trolling motor counts as a motorized boat, then you will definitely need to register your tube or inflatable if it has a trolling motor. Provisioning an inflatable with a trolling motor automatically converts it from a non-motorized boat to a motorized one. And as earlier noted, most states require the registration of all motorized boats, regardless of the type or size.
Do You Need to Register a Canoe With a Trolling Motor?
Yes, you will need to register your canoe if you have enhanced its performance with a trolling motor. While a canoe without a motor doesn’t require registration in almost all the states, adding a trolling motor will make it motorized. And this means you will have to register it.
But, if you will be operating your canoe on private lakes, then you may not need to register it if you live in Georgia or Florida. And if you will be operating it on non-federal waters exclusively, then you may not need to register your canoe in Washington state, even if it has a trolling motor.
Are You Required to Register the Trolling Motor Itself?
No. As much as all states in the country require boat owners whose boats are equipped with trolling motors to register them, registering the trolling motor itself is not a requirement.
Generally, you are only required to register your outboard motor, if it has an output of more than 10 hp. But, considering that the output of trolling motors is well below 10 hp, then you don’t have to bother registering it. But, it’s always important to check in with your local authorities, in case you are not sure about registration requirements.
Do You Need to Register a Boat with an Electric Motor?
Similar to boats that have been outfitted with trolling motors, you also need to register your water vessel if it has an electric motor. Adding an electric motor to your boat converts it to a motorized boat. And considering that all motorized boats have to be registered, then this will also be the case with your boat if it’s fitted with an electric motor.
At the end of the day, there isn’t much difference if your boat is propelled by fossil fuels or by an electric motor. Both methods of propulsion deliver almost the same level of output, which is around 30 hp to 40 hp. So, as long as your boat has motorized propulsion, you will need to register it with the relevant registration bodies.
Wrapping It Up
As long as your boat has a trolling motor, then it will count as a motorized boat across all states. Hence, if you have an inflatable, canoe, kayak and you have added a trolling motor to it, it immediately becomes a motorized boat. And you will need to register it before you can start operating it. Otherwise, you run the risk of ending up with hefty fines.
About THE AUTHOR
I have a deep love of houseboating and the life-changing experiences houseboating has brought into my life. I’ve been going to Lake Powell on our family’s houseboat for over 30 years and have made many great memories, first as a child and now as a parent. My family has a passion for helping others have similar fun, safe experiences on their houseboat.Read More About Brian Samson