Where to get a PA Kayak Launch Permit?

Living in Pennsylvania means exploring the beautiful lakes of the state and going on fun fishing and boating ventures! This is especially exciting for fishermen and outdoor sportsmen who love spending their time on the waters and going on adventurous fishing journeys, and if it is Pennsylvania in consideration, then who would not love a ride on its alluring waters?

The owners of kayaks and Inflatable boats, and canoes are lucky to enjoy this beautiful gift by nature, but is it that simple? Not really. In order to launch your kayak and boat into the water, you require permission from the state you are fishing in. Every state has a set of rules and regulations that you have to abide by while you are at it, so does Pennsylvania.

So what is a PA kayak launch permit, and where can you get one? What is the procedure, and are you even eligible for one? I am here to provide you with the answers!

What is a PA Kayak Launch Permit?

Let’s first discuss what exactly is a PA Kayak Launch Permit and who issues it to people.

Every state has a regulatory body for different departments, be it forests, lakes, or housing. Pennsylvania also has one for its lakes and other water bodies that take care of the preservation of natural resources as well as keep a check on its functioning and activities. It is known as the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission, abbreviated as PFBC.

If you are in Pennsylvania and wish to launch your boats and kayaks into the state’s water, then you ought to have a special document, or you may say, a ticket that gives you the liberty of fishing and boating in the area. This piece of document is called the Launch Permit for boats and kayaks.

PFBC is responsible for the preservation and care of lakes and forests in the state of Pennsylvania and does not allow any recreational activity on the premises without the above-mentioned Launch Permit. Now you need to determine the two most important things before getting the permit; is your kayak motorized or not, and is the area that you will be boating in, falls under the premises of PFBC or not.

If you own a non-motorized kayak, you need to get a Launch Permit for launching it into the state’s governed waters. For motorized accessories and boats, you need to get the vessel registered since the permit would not be sufficient to launch those in the waters.

The basic difference between the two is that when you register your kayak, your information gets stored in the PFBC’s database, so if you ever happen to lose your boat, it will be easy for the state to help you look for it.

In the case of only the launch permit (for non-motorized boats), since the state would not have all the information, the chances of receiving help would be low.

Moreover, owners of registered boats also receive a reminder email from the Commission to renew their registrations every two years.

How to get a PA Kayak Launch Permit? A Step-by-Step Guide!

Here is a step-by-step guide as to how to get a kayak launch permit in Pennsylvania.

Register Your Kayak

The first step is to register your boat, powered or un-powered. This registration’s validity is for 2 years, so you have to renew it after every 2 years. For non-motorized kayaks, you can launch them in the lakes and rivers as long as you have the boat’s registration or Pennsylvania States Park mooring permit. For these, having a PFBC launch permit is not necessary. After registering a non-motorized boat, you cannot add motors or powered appliances to it since it is now classified as an un-powered boat.

For motorized boats and kayaks, registering yourself in PFBC is mandatory. Some of the information that you need to keep with you when requesting a launch permit includes; full name, residential address, complete birth date, driver’s license, and related information, social security number, passport details (for foreign citizens), and customer number that you receive on purchasing a hunting or fishing license.

Other details like manufacturer and manufacturing date of the boat and hull identification number may be required too. It is better to keep all this information with you when you go for the permit.

Keep reading to find out where to register your boat since I have mentioned the online and offline platforms for it down below!

Application Forms

The next step is to fill out the application forms that you can easily get online or offline. PFBC’s website is one good example to get it online if you do not feel like visiting its headquarters. Other possible options include PFBC’s law enforcement offices or county treasurer’s offices.

Once you receive the application form, fill it out carefully and mention everything they require you to.

Registration Fee

Once you fill out and submit the application, you are required to pay the respective fee for your boat. The details for the payment are listed below in this article; continue reading to find out.

Certificate of Boat Registration

When you receive your registration card, you are supposed to display it on your boat. Along with the certificate, you will also get 2 validation decals.

 This step is important since displaying the label is one of the most crucial rules of launching your kayak in the Penn state waters.

Exemption from Displaying Registration Numbers

PFBC exempts certain categories of boats, including inflatables, kayaks, sailboats, etc., from displaying registration numbers but requires some powered boats to do so. So it is better to confirm the orders for your boat before you leave with the certificate.

Where to get the kayak launch permit in Pennsylvania?

There are many places, both online and offline, for you to get your PA kayak launch permit from. While physical means were quite popular in the past, online application procedures have pretty much taken over the former because of the convenience and fast delivery.

Some of the places that I suggest are listed as follows:

Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission (PFBC)

It is a very easy process to obtain your launch permit from PFBC. You just have to mention your County, get the location and list of local agents, and your permit will be issued in no time!

Washington County Launch Permits

You can ask for a launch permit online or offline, both from Washington County. The prices differ for natives and non-natives.

The Outdoor Shop

Another one of the online platforms is the outdoor shop, where you just fill out a simple form and submit your application for the launching permit. Payment can also be made online via this platform.

Hunt Fish PA

Hunt Fish PA is another great online option for you to get your launch permit. It is user-friendly, to the point, and currently used by many boating and fishing enthusiasts.

How much does a PA kayak Launch Permit cost?

There are two different kinds of applications that you can submit for a launch permit. One is valid for a year, and the other is valid for two years. The details are as follows.

The 1-year launch permit costs almost $12, whereas the 2-year launch permit is $22.

For boats that are less than 16ft, it costs $26. For the ones that are somewhere between 16 and 20ft, it will cost you $39. Lastly, for boats longer than 20ft, you will get a launch permit for $52.

Where do you have to place the Launch Permit?

PFBC has certain regulations for the placement of launch permits as well! For all the non-motorized boats, you are supposed to place the label sticker on the exterior surface of the front side of the boat, whereas, for all the kayaks and other motorized boats, you can place the label on either side of the boat.


Make sure that the sticker adheres properly to the boat. If not, you may use an adhesive material but be careful since a harsh one might damage your boat!

Things you should know about Boating in Pennsylvania

First and foremost is the display of the label. As mentioned earlier, it is mandatory for you to display the permit label on your boat. Towards the front side in case of a non-motorized boat and on either side of it in case of a kayak.

Keep a whistle with you at all times! You can get one that is high pitched and clear so that you can avoid accidents like collisions with other boats when you are on the waters. This is crucial, especially at night when the vision is compromised. A handheld light can also be used for this purpose.

You should have a Personal Floating Device (PFD) with you. Not keeping one is not allowed, especially with a child under 12 years of age.

This one is quite obvious; you should not drink or go for alcohol overdose when you are planning to go on the waters since it is very dangerous and also a serious offense. If an officer suspects that you have been drinking, he has all the right to do a quick alcohol check and deem you suitable or unsuitable for boating or paddling.

You should also have flares and orange signal flags with you.

The launch permit does not give you the right to carry out other activities like camping, fires, digging, cutting plants or trees, and others that can potentially harm the environment. Swimming is also not allowed.

Launch Permits do not enable you to moor on the waters overnight; however, if you have the current registration, you can.

Inflatables shorter than 7ft or the ones that are damaged and of poor quality are not authorized to be on the waters at all costs. Your must-have boat features like buoyancy chambers too!

Sleeping in your boat overnight is not permitted. Having a launch permit does not allow you that!

Wrap Up

Obtaining a launch permit for kayaking in PA is mandatory. You can not slide your boat onto the waters until and unless you have one.

The cost of getting the permit is also not much, making it quite easy for kayak owners to obtain one. The process is further made easy for people by making the application forms available online. So, get g0ing and enjoy PA’s irresistible beauty just by filling out a simple form from the comfort of your home!.

Last but not least, the beauty of nature in Pennsylvania is undeniably impressive, so in order to preserve that, all of us need to observe the state’s rules and regulations.

I hope the article answers all your queries and concerns regarding the issuance of the PA Kayak Launch Permit.

PS: Don’t forget to take your PFD with you.

Happy Kayak-ing!


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