Permits for Companies/Outfitters Operating/Renting Non-Motorized Vessels in Tennessee

TWRA is now taking permit applications for paddle craft rental operations.   

A NMV permit is required for any entity (business, joint venture, individual, etc.) that leases or rents non-motorized vessels (NMV) for non-commercial use by the public on the waters of Tennessee.

The only exceptions are for a commercial NMV outfitter operating with a permit issued by the U.S. Forest Service on waters in and adjacent to the Cherokee National Forest, a commercial outfitter operating at a lake or pond wholly contained within the boundaries of any property owned or operated by the TN Department of Environment and Conservation Agency and any state governmental entity.

An operating permit is effective for one year from January 1 through December 31 of each year. All operating permit renewals shall be filed with the TWRA between October 1 and December 15 of the operating year.

Non-Motorized Vessel Outfitter (NMV) Permit Application Requirements

Each application shall include, among other information, the following information for each applicant.

  • The number of vessels owned by the commercial NMV outfitter that is available for lease or rent.
  • The waterways of the state on which the applicant intends to operate if known.
  • Any public access areas the applicant intends to utilize.
  • Estimated months of operations.
  • Tennessee Secretary of State control number, if applicable.
  • A copy of the applicant’s business license.
  • A copy of the applicant’s Department of Revenue Certificate of Registration.
  • Proof of liability insurance.
  • Designated representative for the applicant.

Operating permits may be transferred upon written notification to the TWRA of the date of transfer, the name of the new business owner, and the new designated representative. Transfer notifications must be submitted before the date of transfer.

NMV Outfitter Operating Requirements

In order for a commercial NMV outfitter to operate they must meet these criteria:

  • Possess a valid operating permit issued by the TWRA
  • Maintain the following records:
    • Number and type of NMV leased or rented each day
    • The public access and body of water utilized by an NMV each day, if known
    • Number of accidents and/or casualties involving the use of a commercial outfitter’s NVM
    • Number of water rescues each day involving a commercial NMV outfitter’s vessel
  • Outfitters shall not lease or rent to an individual less than 16 years of age unless the individual is accompanied by someone at least 18 years of age.

Paddlecraft Survey

Exciting news! The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency is embarking on a mission to learn more about our beautiful state's waterways and the paddlers who enjoy them. Our Fisheries Division, Wildlife and Forestry Division’s Human Dimensions Department, and the Boating and Law Enforcement Division have created a survey just for paddlers.  

Introducing the Paddlecraft User Survey – your chance to contribute to the preservation and enjoyment of Tennessee's rivers, streams, and reservoirs. Whether you're gearing up for an adventure, paddling along, or winding down after a day on the water, we want to hear from you!  What's the survey all about? It's simple! Our Survey Interview Form is designed to capture valuable insights from paddlers like yourself.

We'll be stationed at various access points across the state this summer, ready to chat with paddlers at every stage of their journey.  Your participation matters! By sharing your experiences, you're helping us understand the needs of both private and commercial paddlers. Plus, your input will shape the future of waterway management and conservation efforts in Tennessee. 

So keep an eye out for our friendly staff and volunteers equipped with the survey – they'll be easy to spot at a waterway near you.  Together, let's make waves and ensure that Tennessee's waters remain a vibrant and cherished resource for generations to come!