Note: This information is accurate as of January 2024 and is subject to change in May of each year. Please call the FWC’s Boating Safety Section at 850-488-5600 for annual updates to this information or questions regarding boating safety course requirements.
There is no minimum age to operate a boat. However the personal watercraft regulations and boating safety requirements below are age specific and would apply.
All motorized vessels and non-motorized vessels over 16 feet in length must be registered, except for non-motor-powered canoes, kayaks, racing shells, or rowing sculls. Registration numbers should be on both sides at the bow, in block letters at least 3 inches high, and in a contrasting color. The Certificate of Registration must be onboard for inspection. The registration decal must be displayed near the registration number on the port side and renewed annually. Vessels must be registered within 30 days of purchase.
In case of an accident causing injury, death, disappearance, or damage over $2,000, the operator must report immediately to the FWC, county sheriff, or municipal police chief. Leaving the scene without aiding and reporting is illegal.
Reckless or careless operation of vessels is prohibited. Violating federal navigation rules is also a violation of state law.
Those with 2 non-criminal infractions within 12 months, or involved in a serious accident or convicted of a boating offense, must complete an approved boating safety course.
Airboats must use adequate muffling devices and display a flag at least 10 feet high for visibility.
Follow posted speed zone regulations. Idle speed means minimal movement; slow down means fully off-plane but not causing excessive wake.
Operating a vessel while impaired by substances is illegal. BAC levels of .08 or higher for adults, and .02 for those under 21, indicate impairment.
A lookout or rear-view mirror is required, and operations are prohibited from sunset to sunrise. Wearing a USCG-approved PFD is mandatory.
PFDs are required for all occupants. Engine cutoff switches must be used. Operating hours are from sunrise to sunset. Minimum age to operate is 14; to rent is 18. Education requirements for those born on or after January 1, 1988.
Mooring to navigation or regulatory markers is generally prohibited.
Those born on or after January 1, 1988, must have a boating safety ID card and photo ID when operating a powerboat of 10 HP or more.
Divers or vessels must display a divers-down flag or buoy when divers are in the water.
Unreasonable interference with navigation by anchoring or operating a vessel is illegal.
Mandatory carriage of USCG-approved PFDs, fire extinguishers, sound-producing devices, and visual distress signals as per vessel size and operation hours. Navigation lights are required from sunset to sunrise.
Adherence to the manufacturer's capacity plate for monohull boats under 20 feet is required.
Compliance with USCG sanitation requirements and effective muffling devices is mandatory.
Various law enforcement officers have authority over boating laws and can conduct inspections.
Protection measures for manatees and seagrasses are enforced, including speed zone compliance and avoidance of seagrass beds.