Questions about Tax on Kayaks & Canoes

Apparently the Maine legislature is considering a $10.00 registration fee for kayaks and canoes. See As an avid paddler, kayak shop owner, and member of the Maine Association of Sea Kayak Guides and Instructors (MASKGI), I have a few questions. Very little detail about what is being proposed is available. I’d appreciate if folks from other states that already have this kind of tax could enlighten me on the following:

  1. Does a kayak need to be registered if it only sits in my yard? (I assume not. Please tell me if I’m wrong.)

    If the registration is paid therefore not on the item but on its “use”, that seems to open up a slew of questions:
  2. Does a kayak need to be registered if I use it only on a pond or lake that has no public access?
  3. Does a kayak need to be registered if it is used only in the ocean? (IF&W has no jurisdiction there, I assume).
  4. If the answer to #3 is no, then what about the grey areas? Estuaries? Salt water bays? How far up a river may I paddle before I am in violation if I do not register my kayak?
  5. What about the St. John River (shared border with Canada? Lake Umbagog? Shared border with New Hampshire? If my paddle trip originates in New Hampshire, do I need a Maine registration to paddle across into Maine?
  6. Do these regulations refer only to bodies of water in their liquid form? Can I drag my kayak across a frozen lake in the wintertime without registration? Or do I need registration for that too?
  7. And how do we define kayaks and canoes anyway? If I keep a sail rig aboard my kayak (I do own one) can I claim its a sailboat and be exempt? Or perhaps I could keep a pair of oars aboard and claim it’s a rowboat and therefore be exempt? Simon River Sports makes a product that converts a windsurfboard to a “kayak.” Does this “unit” now need to be registered as well?
  8. How will this be enforced?
  9. Will owners of classy homemade woodstrip kayaks be required to put an ugly sticker across their bows?
  10. Speaking of ugly stickers, have they come up with and adhesive that will adhere to plastic over the course of Maine summer, enduring salt water, sun, rocks, you name it?

    Sorry for the rant (sort of). But this just seems like one more intrusion into the sport we love? To make it worse, apparently the legislature also wants to tax “hikers” as well. (Maybe if I’m mountain biking or pogo-sticking or riding a unicyle, I won’t be taxed.)

Lets see my wife and paddle in ME,CT, MA, RI, NY, NH, and VT. Now if all those states do it that will cost me $140 for us both to paddle.

Render unto Ceasar and all that.

– Last Updated: Mar-22-05 9:37 PM EST –

You know who runs the lower aspects of this world. The man downstairs.

I paid $5 to launch off the west promenade in portland but the shower afterwards was nice.

Maine is having a hard time these days, I wish I knew the answer,

If you find out about non-residents please let me know.

Yep I hear that and
all those stickers will weigh my bow down.

If taxed for every boat I use, I would
pay about $120 a year. If I had to endure licensing, I would prefer to be licensed as a USER, just as a hunter or fisherperson is licensed. Just imagine the howls if Maine could charge $10 a gun, or $10 a rod.

My advice is to fight it. A quick negative response by the paddling community may kill it off.

what next?
Go to and search on ‘kayak’ to bring up the section of the bill in question. Here is the text from the bill:

Sec. III-40. 12 MRSA §13056-A is enacted to read:

§13056-A. Nonmotorized watercraft conservation sticker

1. Sticker required; fees. Except motorboats subject to section 13056 or as otherwise provided in this section, a person may not place or operate a sailboat, rowboat, canoe or kayak on the inland waters or territorial waters of the State, unless a conservation sticker issued under this section is affixed to the watercraft. This section does not apply to watercraft used primarily in commercial operations that require licensure under Part 9 or to a rowboat used on marine waters for purposes of travel between a moored vessel and the shore. The conservation sticker is nontransferable and the fee is $10, $1 of which is retained by the issuing agent.

2. Exception. A person who holds a valid Maine fishing license or combination license issued by the department may receive one conservation sticker without a fee that must be affixed to that person’s sailboat, rowboat, canoe or kayak.

3. Revenues. All fees collected by the commissioner from the sale of the conservation sticker must be distributed in accordance with section 10206, subsection 3.

4. Penalties. The following penalties apply to violations of this section.

A. A person who violates subsection 1 commits a civil violation for which a fine of not less than $100 nor more than $500 may be adjudged.

B. A person who violates subsection 1 after having been adjudicated as having committed 3 or more civil violations under this Part within the previous 5-year period commits a Class E crime.

Sounds like out of state has to buy
a sticker. Including within paddling distance of the shore on the ocea, which is within Maine’s territorial waters. Clip from the text below… note there is no exclusion for someone who will be using the place for less than 30 days or whatever like in PA.

"…Except motorboats subject to section 13056 or as otherwise provided in this section, a person may not place or operate a sailboat, rowboat, canoe or kayak on the inland waters or territorial waters of the State, unless a conservation sticker issued under this section is affixed to the watercraft. "

Anyone live up there who knows how they plan to enforce this? If it goes thru I’d much rather buy a $10 sticker than be hit with a $100 per boat fine. That’d ruin an otherwise nice day. We do get looked over at least once eash summer by the Coast Guard or whoever, though it appears to be a check for basic safety etc gear because we’ve never been actually stopped.


Therw will be people at lots of the
popular launch sites.

Civil disobedience
If you’re a non-resident, how are they going to enforce the stricker requirement? If they issue you a ticket, how are they going to collect it? There is no reciprocity between states for these types of fines, so unless you’re a Maine resident, they have no way of making you pay it.

Another option is to not paddle in Maine and write a letter to the Governor explaining why they’ll no longer be getting any tolls, sales tax, rooms & meals tax, gas taxes and so on from you. All it will take is a tiny drop in tourism for this to be a net loser in tax related income from tourists.