Do You Need a Boating License to Rent a Boat? All States Info

Posted Aug 26 2022 in Boating tips

Whether you need a boating license to rent a boat depends on the state and there are age restrictions. Check our full state guide for how old you need to be.

You might wonder do you need a boating license to rent a boat? This guide answers all the questions you might have about renting boats. We are here to shed some light on a few things you might not be familiar with. If you're renting a boat or signing up for a boat charter, you may have questions about what's required of you — as well as what's required of the captain or captain/crew. The following article gives an overview of boating regulations and will help explain what you need, how to get it, and some other details.

So, do you need a boating license to rent a boat?

Well, it depends on where you're renting the boat. This article will cover all of the states that require some sort of license or permit to use a boat rental service, as well as those that don't. In addition to this information, we'll also go over the age restrictions for renting boats in each state. Check out our table with all the states and their boating license requirements:

StateDo you need a license to rent a boat?
ALABAMANO
(There is no requirement for a boating license to rent a boat in Alabama)
ALASKANO
(There is no requirement for a boating license to rent a boat in Alaska)
ARIZONANO
(There is no requirement for a boating license to rent a boat in Arizona)
ARKANSASNO
(There is no requirement for a boating license to rent a boat in Arkansas)
CALIFORNIANO
(There is no requirement for a boating license to rent a boat in California)
COLORADONO
(There is no requirement for a boating license to rent a boat in Colorado)
CONNECTICUTNO
(There is no requirement for a boating license to rent a boat in Connecticut. For rentals longer than 14 days, a certificate is required)
DELAWARENO
(There is no requirement for a boating license to rent a boat in Delaware)
FLORIDANO
(There is no requirement for a boating license to rent a boat in Florida. People born after Jan 2, 1988, need a certificate to rent a boat in Florida)
GEORGIANO
(There is no requirement for a boating license to rent a boat in Georgia. Education course is required to rent a boat above 10hp)
HAWAIINO
(There is no requirement for a boating license to rent a boat in Hawaii)
IDAHONO
(There is no requirement for a boating license to rent a boat in Idaho)
ILLINOISNO
(There is no requirement for a boating license to rent a boat in Illinois)
INDIANANO
(There is no requirement for a boating license to rent a boat in Indiana)
IOWANO
(There is no requirement for a boating license to rent a boat in Iowa. However, a boating license is required and you should be at least 21)
KANSASNO
(There is no requirement for a boating license to rent a boat in Kansas. People born after Jan1, 1989 should complete an approved boating education course)
KENTUCKYNO
(There is no requirement for a boating license to rent a boat in Kentucky)
LOUISIANANO
(There is no requirement for a boating license to rent a boat in Lousiana)
MAINENO
(There is no requirement for a boating license to rent a boat in Maine)
MARYLANDNO
(There is no requirement for a boating license to rent a boat in Maryland. People born after Jul 1, 1972 need to complete a boating education course)
MASSACHUSETTSNO
(There is no requirement for a boating license to rent a boat in Massachusetts)
MICHIGANNO
(There is no requirement for a boating license to rent a boat in Michigan. However, only people aged 25 are older can rent a boat)
MINNESOTAN/A
MISSISSIPPINO
(There is no requirement for a boating license to rent a boat in Mississippi. People born after Jun 1, 1980 need to complete a boating education course)
MISSOURINO
(There is no requirement for a boating license to rent a boat in Lousiana)
MONTANANO
(There is no requirement for a boating license to rent a boat in Lousiana)
NEBRASKANO
(There is no requirement for a boating license to rent a boat in Nebraska. However, a boating education course is required to rent a boat for people born after Dec 31, 1985)
NEVADANO
(There is no requirement for a boating license to rent a boat in Nevada)
NEW HAMPSHIREN/A
NEW JERSEYN/A
NEW MEXICONO
(There is no requirement for a boating license to rent a boat in New Mexico)
NEW YORKNO
(There is no requirement for a boating license to rent a boat in New York if you are age is above 18. If your age is below 18, you need to complete an approved boating education course to rent a boat)
NORTH CAROLINABoat operators in North Carolina must have obtained their North Carolina Boater Education Certificate to rent a boat in the state for North Carolina.
NORTH DAKOTAN/A
OHIONO
(There is no requirement for a boating license to rent a boat in Ohio. However, a boating education course is required to rent a boat for people born after Jan2, 1982.)
OKLAHOMAN/A
OREGONNO
(There is no requirement for a boating license to rent a boat in Oregon. However, a boater education card is required for boat rentals in Oregon and needs to be carried onboard.
PENNSYLVANIAN/A
RHODE ISLANDN/A
SOUTH CAROLINANO
(There is no requirement for a boating license to rent a boat in South Carolina)
SOUTH DAKOTANO
(There is no requirement for a boating license to rent a boat in South Dakota)
TENNESSEEYES
(There is a requirement for a boating license to rent a boat in Tennesse. People born after Jan 1, 1989, are required to take a test to operate boats above 8.5 hp)
TEXASYES
(There is a requirement for a boating license to rent a boat in Texas for people born after Sep 1, 1993)
UTAHNO
(There is no requirement for a boating license to rent a boat in Utah)
VERMONTNO
(There is no requirement for a boating license to rent a boat in Vermont)
VIRGINIANO
(There is no requirement for a boating license to rent a boat in Virginia)
WASHINGTONNO
(There is no requirement for a boating license to rent a boat in Washington)
WEST VIRGINIANO
(There is no requirement for a boating license to rent a boat in West Virginia)
WISCONSINNO
(There is no requirement for a boating license to rent a boat in Wisconsin)
WYOMINGNO
(There is no requirement for a boating license to rent a boat in Wyoming)

Do I need a boat license to drive a boat?

Yes, most states require a boat license to drive a boat. The boating license is called a boating education course or boating safety course, and it’s usually administered through an accredited school or local government with requirements for age and experience level that must be met.

Do you need a license to drive a pontoon boat?

No, you don’t need a license to drive a pontoon boat. However, if you're having trouble steering or docking your pontoon boat, you may want to consider taking a driver’s license. Also, if you plan to drive in Florida—or any other state where it's required—then it's best to get licensed.

What do you need to rent a boat?

When you're ready to rent a boat, it's important to know what you're looking for. That way, you can make sure your next boating experience is everything you want it to be. There are several requirements to rent a boat you should consider.

  • Captain - If you are not able to operate the boat, you will need one
  • Meet the Age requirements - minimum age of 18 or in some cases 21+
  • Boating experience or operator license - depending on the state
  • Get familiar with the boat rental rules on the water
  • A suitable rental company for your rental boat
  • A fishing boat if you intend to go fishing (and a fishing license)
  • Water sports equipment (Jet skis, kayak, water skiing, etc.)
  • Safety measures (life jackets)

What do you need to rent a boat in Florida?

If you consider visiting Florida, it makes sense to consider spending some time of your vacation on a party boat or a boat rental. After all, no one can dispute the reputation of Florida as one of the best places for beach hopping, picturesque beach alleys, and amazing national parks. And even if you don’t own a personal watercraft, Florida offers multiple boat rentals for the adventurous ones. However, you should follow some renting a boat in Florida requirements:

  • The boat noise is governed by local ordinance and the sound level cant’ exceed 90dBA at 50 feet
  • Skiing while intoxicated is strongly prohibited as well as riding too close to people or vessels or other objects.
  • Out-of-state boating education certificates are accepted in Florida
  • The state requires boat operators of personal watercraft to be at least 14 years of age in order to operate a PWC vessels
  • A U.S. Coast Guard-approved PFD is required when operating a PWC
  • Boat operators must instruct renters on their responsibilities and ethics regarding their behavior on the water. They must avoid the careless and dangerous operation of the water vessels.
  • Skiing between 30 minutes past sunset and 30 minutes before sunrise is prohibited.

Explore Boat Rentals in Florida

What do you need to rent a boat in California?

Renting a boat in California is a great way to spend a day on the water. There are many different types of boats available for rent, including fishing boats and sailboats, as well as jet skis and other water toys. If you want to rent a boat in California, you'll need to be at least 18 years old and have a California boater card and credit card ready, according to California law.

  • An adult is required to be on board and supervise when a 12-15-year-old minor is operating a motor-powered vessel other than PWC
  • A boat operator licensing is not required in the state of California in order to rent a boat
  • Waterskiing is allowed between sunrise and sunset unless regulated by local ordinance
  • Recreational boaters should be aware of the use of Alchohol while operating a boat, it should be 0.08 BAC for them, for Minors under 21 years old 0.01 and 0.04 BAC for the commercial operators
  • Local Law Enforcement agencies enforce regulations on commercial vessels on motorized vessels carrying passengers for hire

What do you need to rent a boat in Texas?

The great thing about renting a boat in Texas is that you don't have to worry about finding the right boat for your needs. There are so many options available to you that there's bound to be something that's just right for whatever type of excursion you have planned. However, you need to follow some of the rules below in order to rent a boat in Texas:

  • The minimum age for the education requirements needed for certification is 12 years old
  • The state issues wallet size certificates that are valid for one year which can be used for boat rentals
  • There is a $25-$500 fine for passengers younger than 13 years of age that are violating PFD regulations in the state
  • A boater education card is required for all boat rental operators in Texas. There is an option for a 15-day boater education deferral
  • You Need A License To Rent A Boat In Texas – operators who are renting a boat in Texas are required to obtain a Boater Education Card. A 15-day boater education document is required for you to rent a boat. A lack of knowledge often leads to boating accidents so get certified and stay safe on the water.

What do you need to rent a boat in Chicago?

You've been to Chicago, and you've seen the skyline. You've gone to the museums, you've walked through Lincoln Park and Grant Park, and you've eaten at all the great restaurants. But what if you want to see something different?

Renting a boat in Chicago is one of the best ways to experience Lake Michigan from a different perspective. Whether for an afternoon picnic or a day-long adventure, renting a boat in Chicago is one of the most fun things you can do while visiting this great city.

There are some requirements for rent a boat in Chicago:

  • There is an annual license for boat operators for carrying passengers for rent which is $50 for each boat
  • A license is required from the Department in order to engage in the business of operating a boat or boat fleet carrying passengers for rent. The license needs to be renewed each year on March 1st.
  • People younger than 18 years old are required to complete a boating education course in order to operate a motorboat by themselves.
  • Water skiers must have a lifejacket in order to meet the safety requirements
  • PWC operation is prohibited from sunset to sunshine

What do you need to rent a boat in NC?

When you're in North Carolina, it's easy to forget that there's a whole state out there, with plenty of water to explore. Luckily, boat rentals make getting out on the water easy. But before you go out on your own boat rental in North Carolina, there are a few things you need to know.

  • Young operators of Motor boats between the age of 10 and 18 that want to operate a mechanically propelled boat should complete a boating education course
  • Persons 14 years old up to 16 years of age may operate if they are accompanied by an adult 18 or older or have a certificate of competency from a NASBLA-approved boating education course and some form of ID.
  • An observer is required to be present when pulling a skier
  • Prices for a boat rental in North Carolina start from $1200 for a day rental

What do you need to rent a boat in Missouri?

If you're planning to rent a boat in Missouri, you'll need to make sure that you meet all of the requirements for renting one. Here's what you'll need:

  • To rent a boat in Missouri, you’ll need to be at least 21 years old
  • Life Jackets/Personal Flotation Devices. All vessels should possess an approved life jacket for each person on board. ...
  • Fire Extinguishers. Fire extinguishers should be on board each vessel
  • Bells/Whistles
  • Navigational Lights
  • Identification

How old to rent a boat in specific states

You have to be between 18 and 25 years old to rent a boat in the majority of the United States. A boating license is required for younger boaters aged 12-18. Always make sure to require information regarding individual rules of each location that you rent from.

How old to rent a boat in Florida

You have to be at least 14 years old to operate a boat in Florida without adult supervision. You can operate a boat with an adult age 18 or older on board as long as you are within 100 yards of them and they're in view of you at all times.

How old to rent a boat in California

You have to be 16 years old to rent a boat in California. Younger ones between 12-15 years must be accompanied by an adult aged 18 or older on board as long as they are within 100 yards.

How old do you have to be to rent a boat in Tennessee?

You have to be at least 16 years old to rent a boat in Tennessee. People, younger than 12 years old must have a supervisor on the boat, who is at least 18 years old, and be able to take control of the motor boat.

How old do you have to be to rent a boat: all US states

Going out on the water should be done in a responsible and safe way. Each US state has its own laws and regulations dedicated to boating safety. Whenever you are renting a boat or other watercraft, you need to make sure you are following the state’s laws. Even though states don’t require recreational boat operators to be licensed, it’s a common practice a boating safety course certificate to be required.

That’s why we’ve prepared a list of all US states’ age requirements:

StateWhat is the minimum age required
ALABAMA12 years old
ALASKANo age requirements
ARIZONA12 years old for boats above 8hp
ARKANSAS14 years old for boats above 10hp
CALIFORNIA16 years old for boats above 15 hp
COLORADO14 years old and a boating safety course
CONNECTICUT16 years old
DELAWARE14 years old and a boating safety course should be completed
FLORIDA14 years old
GEORGIA12 years old
HAWAII15 years old
IDAHONo age requirements
ILLINOISNo age requirements
INDIANA15 years old and a boating safety course should be completed
IOWA12 years old for boats above 10hp
KANSAS12 years old
KENTUCKY12 years
LOUISIANA16 years old and a boating safety course should be completed
MAINE12 years old
MARYLAND12 years old
MASSACHUSETTSNo age requirements
MICHIGAN14 years old
MINNESOTA12 years old
MISSISSIPPI12 years old and a boating safety course should be completed
MISSOURI21 years old
MONTANAN/A
NEBRASKA14 years old
NEVADA14 years old
NEW HAMPSHIRE16 years old
NEW JERSEY12 years old for boats longer than 12 feet and more than 10hp
NEW MEXICO13 years old
NEW YORK10 years old and a boating safety course should be completed
NORTH CAROLINA14 years old
NORTH DAKOTA12 years old
OHIO12 years old
OKLAHOMA12 years old
OREGON16 years old
PENNSYLVANIA12 years old for boats above 25hp
RHODE ISLANDNo age requirements
SOUTH CAROLINANo age requirements
SOUTH DAKOTA12 years old for boats above 6hp
TENNESSEE12 years old for boats above 8.5hp
TEXAS16 years old for boats above 15hp
UTAH16 years old
VERMONT12 years old for boats above 6hp
VIRGINIA14 years old and a boating safety course should be completed
WASHINGTON12 years old for boats above 15hp
WEST VIRGINIA12 years old for boats above 10hp
WISCONSIN12 years old
WYOMING16 years old

What do you need to drive a boat?

man and woman sunbathing on a boat

In order to drive a boat, you may need a driver's license, boater education card, or boating certificate depending on in which state you are located at. Make sure to check up the local boating laws and requirements before you jump on your boating next journey! 

Well, it depends on what kind of boat you're driving. If your boat is less than 16 feet long, then all you need is a boating safety certification card (BSC). If your boat is longer than 16 feet, then you'll need to get a full boating license.

So how do you get a BSC? To apply for one, you'll need to pass an exam on boating laws and regulations. You can also take an approved course from an approved provider.

Once you've done that, your next step is getting out there!

Can anyone drive a boat?

people on a boat having fun

Sure, almost anyone can drive a boat in the United States. In fact, it's pretty easy to get your boating license and get out on the water. Most states require that you take on a boating course before you can get your license.

Once you've completed the course, it's time to apply for your license! Every state has its own process for applying for a boating license—you'll have to go through an application process, take a test, and submit proof that you completed your safety course. Some states also require that you pass an eye exam and give them proof from your physician that there are no medical reasons why you shouldn't drive a boat.

Once all that's done, congratulations—you're ready to hit the water! But before you do… make sure to check out our rules and regulations page for information about how long it takes for licenses to be issued by different states and what happens if they expire; plus tips on how to renew them if needed.

Rent a boat in Miami

Do you need a boat license to rent a boat: Our conclusion

So, the short answer is no. You do not need to have a boating license in order to drive any kind of boat—even if it’s only going to be for personal use. However, some states do require you to have passed an approved boating safety course when driving any kind of vehicle on their waters. Always check with your local DMV before heading out onto open water just in case!

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