District of Columbia Regulatory Guide

District of Columbia has established regulations governing vessel operation, including those for leased boats. These rules encompass a range of aspects related to vessel use, such as equipment necessities, safety protocols, and operator licensing criteria. This page guides you through the essential steps to ensure your boat rental business adheres to District of Columbia's regulatory framework. Additionally, we highlight other important considerations to keep in mind for smooth and compliant operations.

Boxes you need to tick

These are requirements as defined by law:

License Requirement

Renters born on or after 1990 must have a license.

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Age Requirement

Renters must be minimum 18 years old

No person under eighteen (18) years of age shall operate or navigate any vessel sixteen feet (16 ft.) or more in length of any kind in District of Columbia waters, unless the person has successfully completed a boating safety course approved by the Harbor Master, or unless the person under eighteen (18) years of age is under the supervision of a person who has reached eighteen (18) years of age and who has successfully completed a boating safety course.

Rental Agreement

Rental Agreement must be in the possession of the operator on board the vessel

A copy of the lease or rental agreement for a vessel that is leased, rented, or chartered under must be in the possession of the operator on board the vessel.

The copy of the lease or rental agreement for a vessel that is leased, rented, or chartered shall contain at least the identification number and the period of time for which the vessel is rented, leased, or chartered.

Keep in mind when renting out boats


Livery Definition
Boat Registration
Safety Equipment

Not required

List of Passengers

The information provided is intended to be general and informative, and should not be interpreted as regulatory, legal, or insurance advice. It does not constitute professional advice from a licensed insurance agent and does not establish an attorney-client or insurer-insured relationship. This information should not replace the counsel of a qualified legal, regulatory, or insurance professional. Always consult with a qualified professional for legal, regulatory, or insurance advice pertaining to your specific circumstances.

Boat Rental Accident Reporting

In Washington DC, under Article 29 § 14 of the Police Regulations, vessel operators involved in accidents are required to assist affected persons, exchange information, and submit separate reports to the Metropolitan Police Department's Harbor Patrol Unit.

The operator (or the owner if the operator is incapable or unavailable) of a vessel shall file a written accident or casualty report when, as a result of an incident that involves the vessel or its equipment, one of the following occurs:

(a)  A person dies;

(b)  A person is injured and requires medical treatment beyond first aid;

(c)  Damage to the vessel and other property totals more than two hundred dollars

($200), or there is a complete loss of a vessel; or

(d) A person disappears from the vessel under circumstances that indicate death or injury.

The reporting timeframe varies: immediate in cases of death or serious injury, and within 10 days for other incidents.

Report Accident

Federal Regulation

The United States Coast Guard (USCG) regularly provides updates on recentchanges in regulation and have overviews of specific requirements for boatrental companies

Buoy is your one-stop shop for compliance & insurance

Buoy provides boat rental companies with peace of mind while saving time and money. When using Buoy’s insurance solution, we will help you get fully compliant free of charge.

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