Do I need a license to rent and operate a boat in Florida?
The short answer is no; the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, which regulates boating, does not require a “boating license”. However, it does require that you be familiar with boating safety, which can be demonstrated in different ways.
Florida boating regulations
Navigating Florida boating regulations can be confusing, especially with some recent changes to the law. But in reality, the laws aren’t as confusing as they may appear on first glance.
If you intend to rent a boat in Florida and were born on or after Jan. 1, 1988, you will have to complete an approved boating safety course (easily found online), which will provide you with a Boating Safety Education Identification Card. Once you get this course certificate and card, it’s valid for life and does not require renewal. You must carry the card and photo identification with you while operating the vessel. Of course, there are many people who are exempt from this requirement:
What exemptions are there from this law?
-Any boater born before Jan. 1, 1988 is exempt from this law. Having someone on board your vessel who meets this requirement also exempts you, provided that this person is willing to oversee and take responsibility for the safety of the boat.
-Having another boater on board your vessel who has their Boating Safety Education Identification Card, who is also willing to oversee and take responsibility for the safety of the boat. This means that if you have a certified captain on the boat with you, you’re also free to take the wheel.
-Nonresident boaters who have completed a NASBLA- approved boating safety course or exam in another state. You must carry proof of this and a photo ID with you while operating the vessel.
How can I rent a boat if I don’t meet any of the exemptions above and don’t wish to get a Boating Safety Education Identification Card?
You can get a temporary certificate online which will allow you to rent and operate a boat in Florida from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission at the link below. It remains valid for 90 days.
Are there any other Florida boating laws I should know about?
Yes, a few!
-Children under the age of 6 must wear a USCG-approved Type I, II or III personal flotation device any time the boat is unsecured or moving.
-You must also carry a USCG-approved life jacket for each person on board a recreational vessel, but except for children under 6, they are not required to be worn continuously.
-The DUI rules for boating are similar to those for drivers on the roads; that is, you can be pulled over on the water and breathalyzed to ensure that you’re not intoxicated while operating a vessel. While alcohol is certainly allowed on boats in Florida, consider choosing a designated driver or hiring a captain if you plan to consume it yourself.
-A person under the age of 14 cannot operate a boat in Florida.
Still confused by all these certificate and license regulations?
Please give us a call if you have any questions regarding these laws and requirements. We’re happy to help you navigate them and figure out what’s right for your individual situation.
Want to sidestep all these complications?
Consider hiring someone to navigate your vessel for you. At 321 Boat Rentals, we can connect you with an experienced and certified boat captain who will ensure that you have a great time. This will prevent you from having to worry about safety regulations and boater certificates altogether and allow you to focus on enjoying your day on the water.