Pram License

Jim Ficklin

Genuine Montana Fossil
I hope they never follow me while I'm rowing stillwater, 'cuz I can't row a straight line to save my soul and that's while I'm stone-cold sober, lol. It would be even worse if I were in a float tube . . . gotta be a "going backwards" deficiency.


Indi "Ira" Jones
Let me know how it goes. I just picked up a 2.3hp motor for my pram, that'll be used mostly in the sound, and it looks like I'll have to go through the same process. I paid cash for it five years ago so there's zero title, bill of sale, sales receipt, etc to present to anyone at the DOL so the process should be interesting.
What kind of motor is it? I've looked into picking one up for my Spring Creek.


Active Member
Honda short shaft. $949.00 delivered via boats. Won't be able to test it out for a few days but it was just about the smallest lightest gas engine that I could find, and Honda quality is tough to beat.


Piscatorial predilection
Exempt: Vessels less than 16ft with 10hp motor or less used on NON-federal waters. Freestone put the link up, scroll down you'll see it. I have a 12ft aluminum boat with a 9.9hp motor unless I use it on in Federally managed waters it is exempt. I get it registered anyway.

Wonder if you can get a D.W.I. wile rowing?
Yes, you certainly can. (It's a B[oating]UI instead of a D[riving}UI.) There are some differences. Namely, it doesn't have an impact on your driving (no license suspension, ignition lock, etc.), but the fines and penalties are still severe and it is still a misdemeanor. The person operating the craft must be under the limit. And while passengers are allowed to have open container, I'm not sure where it stands for the craft operator. My understanding is that Oregon doesn't allow open container for operator. This includes rafting down rivers, BTW.


Active Member
This is the line to pay attention to. You don't need a license even with a motor.

Exempt if:
  • Vessels less than 16 feet long with a motor of 10 horsepower or less, if used on non-federal waters only.


Not to be confused with freestoneangler
This is the line to pay attention to. You don't need a license even with a motor.

Exempt if:
  • Vessels less than 16 feet long with a motor of 10 horsepower or less, if used on non-federal waters only.
True, but he said he may want to check crabs and crabs live in Federal waters.

To summarize:

1. No motor, no license, no matter what size, no matter what water

2. No license if using only in non-Federal waters (aka freshwater ponds, small lakes and small rivers) and are less than 16 feet long with a motor of 10 horsepower or less.

3. License all motorized boats if using in Federal water (aka salt water and other big bodies of freshwater - Lake Wash., Columbia River, etc).

See this list for what is Federal and non-Federal:


Active Member
In my case I have an 8' fiberglass pram that I bought from a private seller in an all-cash deal several years ago. The boat was unlicensed/un-registered, and had no title associated with it - since that'd make about as much sense as getting a title for a wheelbarrow.

Anyhow - the way I read the regulations, I have to get the boat registered if I want to use the motor in the Puget Sound, which I do. I took a look at the "Vessel Title Application Form" ( and my best guess was that I could just leave spaces that I can't complete (because the information required doesn't exist) blank, identify myself as the first legal owner, and call it good.

It's hard for me to get away from work during working hours to visit a licensing office in person, and I couldn't get anyone at the local licensing office to pick up the phone, so I called the customer service line at the WADOL and spoke to a very pleasant fellow who seemed as confused as I was. He agreed that I needed to register the boat if I was going to use it with a motor in the Puget Sound, but when I asked how I could go about doing so in the absence of a registration/title/etc the conversation became less helpful as he kept looping back to the fact that I'd need the bill of sale, use or excise tax receipts (I forget which it was), etc.

I replied that I'd be happy to provide those documents if they existed, but since I picked up the boat from a skinny-chain-smoking guy in an all cash deal transacted in a vacant lot, the said documents wouldn't be forthcoming and I'd need to figure out another way to get the boat registered. We did a couple more laps around this same loop before I thanked the gentleman for his time and concluded our conversation.

I just finished sending an e-mail outlining my dilemma to the DOL e-mail helpline, and will report back once they chime in, but if anyone has successfully negotiated this process before and can let me know how they managed to get their pram/rowboat/dinghy registered without having any of the documentation that the state seems to need, let me know. If it's as easy as taking the "Vessel Title Application Form" to the licensing office, that'd be great, but my previous experience with the DOL makes that seem unlikely and I'd like to avoid making several trips if I can.
I'm from Michigan and just registered my pontoon today! Same BS! They were hung up on similar stuff, no serial number, no title, no certificate of origin etc... I finally told the lady the only reason this needs to be registered is because of the electric motor and that's why the other stuff doesn't exist! Didn't help! Three clerks and another on the phone and I finally got the registration. The clerks were just trying to do their job and one understood better than the others that lower end watercraft doesn't fit all the rules... finally made it fit... as broke as my state is I would have thought they would just take the money and run ! In the past now so I can relax!


Active Member
Just in case anyone else finds themselves in a similar dilemma - here's what I learned after a navigating a byzantine labrinyth of nonsensical rules constructed to form a the procedural equivalent of a mobius strip that you'll never escape from if you rigidly adhere to the rules as they are written.

"You'll need the bill of sale and the registration...."
"Neither of those documents exist. This is a 3rd or fourth hand, 15 year old, unpowered, 8 foot long fiberglass pram that was only used in non-Federal waters, that I bought in a cash sale from a private party several years ago."
"Yea - if you bring in the bill of sale..."

All I can think is that the folks I was speaking with were using variable intonation or something to communicate what they couldn't actually come right out and say, which is that you basically just have to forge a bill of sale and bring in that, along with a pencil-etching of the hull-identification number and you'll have enough documents for them to feed into the bureaucratic machinery to insure that it spits out your stickers and registration. After three years of uncontested registration, you can apply for a full title, if you actually want one for whatever reason.

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