Florida Boating Rules & Regulations

Florida Boating Rules & Regulations
Florida provides boaters plenty of access to scenic waterways. The state also regulates use of water-going vessels and enforces regulations to improve boater awareness, minimize accidents and help make the state's waterways safe and fun for everyone. Always check with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission for the most current and complete boating rules and registration requirements.


The state requires that all water-going vessels must be registered at the owner's local tax collector's office. Exempt from this are nonmotorized vessels that are less than 16 feet in length, nonmotorized kayaks and canoes. Boaters must affix the certificate of registration onboard, and it must be available for inspection whenever the boat is operated.

Speed Restrictions

Some waterways in the state have speed restrictions. Any boat operating in a speed zone posted as "Idle Speed---No Wake" must proceed at the minimum posted speed. Another speed zone limit is posted as "Slow Down---Minimum Wake;" boaters must operate completely settled in the water and fully off plane in these zones.

Personal Flotation Devices

Florida requires each person operating and riding in a watercraft to wear an Coast Guard-approved, noninflatable Type I, II, III or V personal flotation device (PFD). Inflatable PFDs are not allowed for personal watercraft use. If you are the boat's operator, you must attach the engine cutoff switch lanyard to your body, clothing or PFD.

Age Restrictions

Florida law states that boaters must be at least 14 years of age to operate a boat in the state's waters. You must be at least 18 years of age to rent a personal watercraft in the state.

Time Limits

Water-going vessels may not be operated from half an hour after sunset to half an hour before sunrise, even when navigation lights are used. The law requires the use of navigation lights from sunset to sunrise.

Article Written By Rona Aquino

Rona Aquino began writing professionally in 2008. As an avid marathon runner and outdoor enthusiast, she writes on topics of running, fitness and outdoor recreation for various publications. Aquino holds a Bachelor of Arts in communications and English from the University of Maryland College Park.

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