Florida Boating Laws and Regulations

Age and Operator Restrictions

  • No one under the age of 14 years may operate a personal watercraft (PWC) on Florida waters at any time, even if such person possesses a Florida Boating Safety Education I.D. Card.
  • No one under the age of 18 years may rent/lease a PWC.
  • It is also illegal for the owner of a PWC to knowingly allow a person under 14 years of age to operate a PWC.

Additional Information

The law requires that persons affected by this legislation have in their possession a Florida Boating Safety Education I.D. Card issued by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and photographic ID while operating a vessel.

Exemptions

Operators are exempt from needing to get the license if they are:

  • Licensed by the U.S. Coast Guard as a master of a vessel
  • Operating on a private lake or pond
  • Accompanied on board by a person who is exempt from the education requirement or by a person who is at least 18 years old, possesses the required identification cards, and is attendant to the operation of the vessel and responsible for any violation that occurs
  • Operating a vessel within 90 days after purchase and have a bill of sale on board and available for inspection

Enforcement

Florida law enforcement officers patrol the waterways to make your boating experience safe and pleasant. Cooperate with them by following the laws and guidelines.

Carry the Card: Vessel operators who are required to have a Boater Education Card must carry the card on board the vessel and have it available for inspection by an enforcement officer.

Penalty: Not carrying your Boater Education Card when one is required can result in a fine.

Reciprocity

For visiting boaters, all states, territories, and provinces will recognize boating education cards that meet NASBLA requirements and Canadian Pleasure Craft Operator Cards that meet Transport Canada’s requirements. (This is known as “reciprocity.”)

Need help? Here are the answers to the questions Florida Boating students most frequently ask.

Frequently Asked Questions