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Washington law requires the following with respect to PFDs.

  • All vessels (including non-motorized watercraft) must carry at least one USCG–approved wearable Type I, II, or III PFD for each person on board. Non-motorized watercraft include vessels such as canoes, inflatable rafts, kayaks, and sailboats.
  • In addition to the above requirement, vessels 16 feet in length or longer must have one USCG–approved throwable Type IV device on board and immediately accessible. Canoes and kayaks are exempt from this requirement.
  • All PFDs must be in good and serviceable condition and readily accessible. The wearable PFDs must be of the proper size for the intended wearer. Sizing for PFDs is based on body weight and chest size.
  • Children 12 years old and younger must wear a USCG–approved wearable PFD at all times when underway in a vessel less than 19 feet in length, unless in a fully enclosed area.
  • Each person on board a PWC must wear a USCG–approved wearable Type I, II, or III PFD.
  • Each person being towed behind a vessel must wear a USCG–approved wearable Type I, II, or III PFD.
  • A wearable Type V PFD may be substituted for other required PFDs if the wearable Type V PFD is approved for the activity for which the PFD is being used and is being worn.
  • Some local governments have additional requirements for wearing PFDs. Before you go boating, be sure to check for local regulations at
Person fitting a PFD on a child
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