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Nonmotorized Boating and Paddling

Effective January 1, 2020, Waterway Access Permits are required for boats 10 feet and longer (formerly the Aquatic Invasive Species Permit). 

Permits can be purchased through ODFW's eLicensing system and one and two-year permits through the Marine Board's Boat Oregon Store

Purchasing options are: 

  • One week (valid for 7-consecutive days of your choice) for $7 available only through ODFW
  • One calendar year for $17 (expires on December 31 of the year purchased) and;
  • Two calendar years for $30 (expires on December 31 of the year after purchase). 

Tyvek tags are no longer sold.

Failure to show the permit is a Class D violation with a $115 fine.

Boat measurement is based on the maximum length of the boat when measured along its longest axis.

For basic legal requirements for kayaks, stand up paddleboards, rafts, and other nonmotorized boats, visit our required equipment page. 

Free Online Paddling Course 

The Oregon State Marine Board offers a great introduction to the waterways with a free online paddling course that's approved by the state and recognized by the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA). 
The Paddle Sports Safety Course, offered through, covers state boating laws, rules of the road, how to read the waterway, what to do in case of an emergency, and other tips to enhance boater’s knowledge base and operating skills.
We’re so fortunate to have great public access to rivers, lakes, bays, and the Pacific ocean to play in! Learning how to paddle is a great way to get your feet wet in recreational boating, starting off with basic boating knowledge will make your experience more enjoyable and safer.

Trip Planning and Preparation

Prepare for your paddling adventure by doing the following:
  1. Always wear a properly fitting life jacket and know how to swim in a river current. 
  2. Carry a sound-producing device, like a whistle.
  3. Print a Float Plan to leave with family or friends, so they know when you'll return and call for help if you don't return when expected.
  4. Never boat under the influence of alcohol, drugs, marijuana, or inhalants.
  5. Never paddle on an outgoing tide. 
  6. Never paddle alone.  Bring along at least one other boater.  When paddling, two boats with two operators each, are recommended.  Three boats with two paddlers each are even better.  If unfamiliar with the waterway, paddle with someone knowledgeable. Stay in groups and don't spread out. Think of rivers like a highway, and the main channel is where motorboats are confined to operate. 
  7. Never overload the boat.  Tie-down the gear and distribute weight evenly.  
  8. Never overestimate your skill with the conditions. If you're new to paddling, start out on calm, flat water with minimal wind. Learn self-rescue and reboarding skills, and continually practice.  
  9. Maintain a low center of gravity and three points of contact.  Keep your weight balanced over the center of the boat.
    • Standing up or moving around in a small boat can cause it to capsize –a leading cause of fatalities among paddlers.
    • Leaning a shoulder over the edge of the boat can also destabilize it enough to capsize.
  10. Stay alert at all times and be aware of your surroundings, including nearby powerboats.  Be prepared to react when dangerous situations arise. 
  11. Dress properly for the water temperature, not the air temperature and the type of boating. Remember, you're on the water, so expect to get wet and dress for immersion. 
  12. Check your boat for leaks. 
  13. Map a general route and timetable when embarking on a long trip.  Arrange for your vehicles to be shuttled to the takeout. 
  14. Know the weather conditions before you head out.  While paddling, watch the weather and stay close to shore.  Head for shore if the waves or wind increase.

See and Be Seen

 Wear bright, noticeable clothing.
  • Use reflective tape on your paddle blades.
  • Keep your whistle handy.
  • Any boat less than 20 meters should not impede the passage of a larger ship, whether under power or not.
  • Monitor channels 13 & 16 on your VHF radio.
  • At night and during restricted visibility, a white light must be shown toward on-coming traffic.
Learn more from the videos below about essential gear and boat ramp etiquette, so you can have a safe and enjoyable experience.



Sharing the Waterways

Waterways have "lanes of travel" similar to a highway system.  Know the area you plan to paddle.  If you are near commercial waterways, the navigation charts change often. NOAA has digital charts available as a handy resource.
The depth of the channel may limit deep-draft vessels.  You, however, are mobile and agile. Make use of your ability to move out of the way.  If you are not crossing the channel, stay close to shore.  Large stationary objects offer a margin of protection. 
At night, a white light must be shown toward oncoming traffic.  Bright colors not only help keep track of fellow paddlers but make you far easier to see if separated from your boat. 
If motorized boats are nearby, you are far less likely to capsize if you turn your bow into the wave and don't take the wake broadside.
Watch this video for more tips about navigation rules of the road and paddling on multi-use waterways.

Nonmotorized Waterway Access Permits

Online Store to Purchase Waterway Access Permit

ODFW License Agents List

Oregon Water Trails
Prepare, Care and Connect!

Common ramp signage for paddlers on equipment requirements   *The Waterway Access Permit now replaces the AIS permit

Rules of the Road for Paddlers

Cross at 90 degree angles only when it's safe to do so. Motorized boats and larger vessels need deeper water to operate safey. Don't impede traffic flow and stay together in groups.  

Learn the Art of Boat Launching at mixed-use boating facilities

Leave No Trace and...

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