Boating Laws
Boating Law and Boaters Education 

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Boat Laws  - The Boating Laws and Safety Guides



California Boating Laws are administered by the California Department of Boating and Waterways.

Basic California Boating Laws

 - People 16 years or older may legally operate a boat by themselves. 
 - Children 12 to 15 years old may operate a boat of less than 15 horsepower or a sailboat of less than 30 feet by themselves. 
 - Children 12 to 15 years old may operate a boat of more than 15 horsepower or sailboats over 30 feet in length if they are supervised on board by an adult.

Boating License Requirements

In California , you do not need a license to operate a boat . Some states do require boaters to be licensed or to have taken a boating safety course, so always check with the boating law administrator's office in the state you plan to boat in

California law requires current registration of most vessels, including moored vessels, whether or not they are used. All vessels must be registered except:

  • Boats propelled manually.

  • Sailboats eight feet or less in length.

  • Ships lifeboats used solely for lifesaving.

  • Boats from out of state, registered in that state.

  • Sailboards.

It is illegal for the owner or person in control of a motorboat to allow someone who does not meet the age or boating education requirements to operate the vessel. Boaters Education and Boat Safety