launch use permit VS. boat registration

I live in Pennsylvania and am looking at purchasing a kayak. I will mostly plan on kayaking at State Parks (Lake Nockamixon would be my home base.)

According to PA Fish & Boating Commission it looks like I have two options that will allow me to launch in said State Parks/Commission launch areas. Either I get the PFBC Launch Permit (one year $10 or two years $18, December to December) or I can register my boat (two years $26 March to March).

My question really is: What are the pros and cons of each? Is one better than the other?

for a kayak, here are the pros and cons

Launch permit pros

smaller than registration letters

less expensive

Launch permit cons

Does not count in other states that have reciprocity with PA registered boats

If you’re not planning to travel to other states that require registration, all you need is the launch permit

Have fun!

Depends where the stickers go
The boat registrations require that sticker goes on the boat = more than one boat gets expensive.

Launch permits in my state mean stickers go on vehicle windshield–good if you have multiple boats. Can get expensive if you have many vehicles, but most households would only get them for one or two vehicles. In addition, this way you could launch a rooftop and a trailer full of boats and it’d still cost only one permit.

I have to say that the windshield stickers can take up lots of space. I have permits for Colorado State Parks and for one municipal reservoir on my windshield. They amount to 3 stickers (not 2) because the latter requires a boat-use sticker as well as general visitor pass. In addition, I have a 4th sticker just to get into ONE of the state parks.

Would be nice if they made the stickers smaller.

in PA the stickers go on the boat

– Last Updated: Jul-30-10 1:24 PM EST –

You've got to buy a sticker for each boat.

Or, what I do is tape the sticker on the side and then put it on whatever of my boats I want to. It's not consistent with the law, but I rarely (if ever) paddle where stickers are required (PA Fish Commission boat launches or State Parks) so I don't worry much about it.

launch permit vs. reg

– Last Updated: Jul-30-10 1:36 PM EST –

I think the registration is nice because like a vehicle registration, the renewal app is mailed to you before it expires. If you bought the boat new, paid sales tax and have the receipt, it's easy to register once and renew every two years.

I don't believe the unsightly 3" reg number is required on non-motorized craft in PA. I've never used them, nor do most paddlers in my area (a few do), and I've never been questioned - the 3" square sticker has satisfied even the nasty conservation officer at M---- State Park so it must be OK.

I have registrations on boats I bought new and state park launch permits on my second-hand boats. EDIT: I have either a reg or permit for each boat I own, but I carry the launch sticker in a ziplock map case for my rare skincoat 25yr old Curtis. I refused to deface that hull with any sticker.

Fish & Boat Commission offers a launch permit also and I think all three are reciprocal at launches operated by any of the authorities within PA.

Do most states have reciprocity with PA registration?

And I thought kayaks didn’t need the lettering/numbering, just the registration sticker. Or did you mean something different by lettering for the registration?

I didn’t know that, thanks

I wonder if that was added/changed in the past 5 years or so.

Good to know you don’t need the lettering on kayaks. But I don’t see non-powered canoes specifically mentioned at the link.

I believe it says somewhere else on the site that canoes still require the lettering. Maybe because of the height out of water? IDK…

Cheaper is better
I was just at Nockamixon on Wednesday and bought a 7-day launch permit - it’s a hang-tag like a lift ticket. It took about 5 minutes to get at the park office. I would say just get the 2-year launch permit and you’re all set. You’re lucky to have that park as your home base, it’s really nice, and I only managed to paddle about a third of it.

correct, I just learned something

– Last Updated: Jul-30-10 2:29 PM EST –

According to the link, canoes are required to display the numbers and the "validation decal". Kayaks, just the decal.

Well, that is ridiculous. One of my canoes is shorter than my kayak, none are machine powered. I'll continue to register, but will not display the numbers.

Price is same
Launch permit is the same price as registering your boat as a non powered craft. You pay for two years if you register. You have to renew every year if you launch permit. I like the reciprocity feature of registering plus they have your HIN if your boat gets stolen or lost.

It’s too bad they don’t ask for paddler
registration, similar to a hunting or fishing license. They don’t require fishermen to choose between licensed access to particular waters versus registration of each fishing rod and reel.

They do offer a 2-year launch permit
But I think you are correct - having the HIN on file with the boat registration is a good idea.

motorers beware
Just an FYI: If you put any kind of motor (electric trolling or otherwise) on a canoe or kayak, the state of PA considers it a motor boat. So the launch permit or non-powered registration will not fly in this case. Gotta get the Manufacturers Statement of Origin paperwork notarized and the whole deal, it can get messy.

I got hassled at Promise Land State Park
Even though I had a registered boat with a current sticker and all the numbers in the right places, they still wanted a seperate permit to use EACH of the lakes at Promise Land.

I can see a couple reasons …
… that registering a canoe might be useful .

One is if boardering states (or any state for that matter) , would acknowledge the registration as a pass to use that state’s (or those states’) waters without further special permit fees (should that state have such permit fees like PA) . Same as any other registration such as a power boat or auto allows it to be used in any other state without further adoo .

I would still expect at times to pay site use fees (for things such entrance/access , launch and/or parking) should that be the policy of the individual site/place .

The other is if the paddler may wish to hold out the option of using a motor on occassion without any further adoo .

To my belief , all states require a powered craft (canoe, kayak, other) to be a registered vessel when operated on any public waters in the state .

Up on the Yough reservour at camp (MD. side) , there was a question once about one of our canoes not having either a registration or permit . The Yough for those who are not familiar is a MD. and PA. shared reservour (MD. requires no such permit) . The reservour is feed from the MD. side , a small portion of the reservour (compared to total size) is on the MD. end , with the larger portion on the PA. side . From camp you could leave the cove , turn right (N) and cross into PA. in very short time (it’s like a mile or so) . I think the question was more one of “what if we land and re-launch on the PA. side after originally making launch in MD.” The camp resident host couple wasn’t sure what the outcome might be . We said we knew we didn’t need a permit to launch in MD. and we all just dropped it there .

This made me think about running rivers that route through various states . On the Potomac for example , I can launch at Paw Paw (WV) , keep going and stop on a VA. shore for a break , exit at a MD. site . I have no clue if WV. or VA. would require me to have any special permit to land/launch from their lands , MD. doesn’t and so that’s the rule I follow on such a journey .

I know many rivers cross state lines , three that I’ve been on end up in MD. (well technically the Shenandoah doesn’t end in MD. , but as soon as you reach it’s end into the Potomac , cross over and land , your on MD. shores . I know some other reservours I been on have a state line across them as well .

they wanted … you got hasseled ??
… what was the outcome since you had a registered craft ??

I don’t have any knowledge of “Promise Lands” .

Was this more of site/access fee ??

Delwarare River
That’s similar to the Delaware River on the PA/NJ border. But I believe they accept appropriate launch permits/registration from either state regardless of which side of the river you’re on.

Registration-proof of purchase
Around 6 years ago when we went to register our canoes, we were told if we could not show a bill proving we paid the sales tax (proof of original new purchase) we would need to not only pay the fee but also a sales tax on each boat.

We didnt keep the bills from years ago. Paid taxes unhappily.

Then i found out no bill needed for launch permits and some kayaks were purchased new, others used. so we just paddle locally right now so we get launch Permits.

I am not sure if this is still the practice from Harrisburg or not though.

as a PA resident…
with a human powered boat you need nothing to use it in the water.

If you plan to use a boat ramp/launch that was paid for my the fish and boat commission (which is about 95% of the public launches) then you need either the simple sticker or a registration and with the reg you need to put those 3" tall numbers down both sides of your bow.

For state parks either of those will work or I believe you can get a state park permit, at least in some states.

The registration bit is overkill IMO for a paddled craft unless you plan to put a motor on it.

The simple sticker can be bought on-line (few if any boat dealers carry the stickers) and it will show up at your house in about a week.

if you want to register your boat

permit is the last item on the page. you get to print out a temp one and can go boating right away, legally.

the dcnr (parks) boating prices are here The sticker is the same price as the F&B one but the rules say there’s only one sticker and it goes aft on the starboard side (F&B is two stickers that go amid-ships, one per side)